This summer, following several long and torturous years of eating nothing but rumor, excitement, red herring, conjecture, and hype sandwiches, the long wait for millions upon rabid millions of hungry fans around the globe will finally be over when the third and final installment in a beloved series finally hit the streets to wrap up the myriad of intriguing loose ends and unanswered philosophical questions. The product is ready; the marketing machine is on standby; and the entire media is practically slobbering with juicy rhetoric-saliva. There will be billboards. Searchlights. Helicopters. But… hey wait a second. What does all this have to do with anti-folk stalwart Billy Bragg and those robust, trendy, contemporary, cogent, gutsy, compelling, youthful, chic, dynamic, vital, modern, commanding, vigorous, fresh, keen, virile, energetic, vibrant, burgeoning young up-starts in Wilco? Oh, fuck, I don’t know. I was talking about the new Batman movie that’s coming out.
But actually, by a complete coincidence, Beats Per Minute has it that Nonesuch will be rolling out a new four-disc edition of his and Wilco’s late 90s Mermaid Avenue project (in which they set new music to a bunch of newly recovered Woody Guthrie lyrics) to commemorate Guthrie’s 100th birthday on July 14, the third disc of which will comprise the previously-unreleased Mermaid Avenue Volume III, which contains 17 new tracks from the same original sessions! How’s that for some spooky symmetry, huh? The whole box is titled Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions, and discs one and two will offer up the first two volumes of the series, while disc four is a short documentary about the Mermaid Avenue recoding sessions (titled Man in the Sand).
There’s no release date set in stone yet, nor has it been indicated whether Volume III will receive its own a-la-carte release at any point. But Nonesuch seems to just love pressing stuff to CDs still, so the odds on that are probably decent. Bragg has also indicated that he’ll play some shows to support the release. As to whether or not it’ll rival the popularity of the new Batman movie at the box office this summer, you know, probably not.