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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Jan. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rough Trade Records
  • ASIN: B0009MWAPW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,052 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Concerning the UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois
2. The Black Hawk War, or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience But You're Going To Have To Leave Now, or, "I have fought the Big Knives and will continue to fight them till they are off our lands!"
3. Come On! Feel the Illinoise! / Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition / Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream
4. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
5. Jacksonville
6. A short reprise for Mary Todd, who went insane, but for very good reasons
7. Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Step-Mother!
8. One last "Whoo-hoo!" for the Pullman
9. Chicago
10. Casimir Pulaski Day
11. To The Workers of The Rock River Valley Region, I have an idea concerning your predicament, and it involves an inner tube, bath mats, and 21 able-bodied men
12. The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
13. Prairie Fire That Wanders About
14. A conjunction of drones simulating the way in which Sufjan Stevens has an existential crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze
15. The Predatory Wasp of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us
16. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh!
17. Let's hear that string part again, because I don’t think they heard it all the way out in Bushnell
18. In This Temple As in The Hearts of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth
19. The Seer's Tower
20. The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders / Part I: The Great Frontier / Part II: Come to Me Only With Playthings Now
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

Like the self-proclaimed "Spiderman" who climbed Chicago’s Sears Tower with no harness, Sufjan Stevens scales dusty prairies, steel factories, and two hundred years of history to produce his newest album Illinois on Rough Trade. Invoking the muse of poet Carl Sandburg (and the musical flourishes of Rodgers and Hammerstein), Illinois ushers in trumpets on parade, string quartets, female choruses and ambient piano scales arranged around Stevens’ emerging falsetto. Whereas 2003’s Michigan (the inaugural album of "The 50 States" project) was rooted in memory, and 2004’s Seven Swans was rooted in the spirit, Illinois is rooted in "the world, in society, invention, civilization, in disease, in death, in education, in business," says Stevens. And unlike Seven Swans, Stevens surmounted the heights of Illinois solo, employing guest musicians but recording, engineering, and producing the album entirely on his own (mostly at the Buddy Project in Queens, New York).

You certainly can’t fault the man’s ambition. (Come On Feel the) Illinoise is Sufjan Stevens’ second offering in his attempt to record an album for all 50 American states (the first was Greetings from Michigan). And rather than make life any easier for himself, Illinoise is itself a 20-track concept album, tackling a range of relevant topics from serial killers ("John Wayne Gacy, Jr.") to poets ("Come On Feel the Illinoise, Part II: Cars Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream") to Superman ("The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts").

Taken as a whole, the album sounds like a stage musical history of Illinois, sung with enthusiasm, and full of flourish and energy and a cast of characters that include the Blackhawk tribe, Abraham Lincoln, Al Capone, steelworkers and small-town heroes. Perhaps most surprisingly, considering its depths of knowledge and research, most of the album was recorded by Stevens in Queens, New York. But to its credit, Illinoise is always accessible, and never academic--if he can tackle such diverse topics within the course of just one album, then Stevens is just the musician to attempt the remaining 48 states. --Robert Burrow

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Eclectic / clueless VINE VOICE on 7 July 2006
Format: Audio CD
Not many albums show the influence of Steve Reich, Love, The Beatles and Paul Simon. Even fewer have, in addition, crazily self-mocking album titles and a comic-book cover. Add to that mix the rehabilitation of the banjo, and you're down to one album. This is a melodic, joyous and eclectic piece of work. Verges on whimsy in a faintly Belle-and-Sebastien way at times, but doesn't quite fall over the edge into syrup. Even chord sequences and fingerpicking patterns you've heard 101 times before (Casimir Pulaski Day) are lifted by real emotion and heart-on-sleeve lyrics ; this one sounds hearfelt and oddly moving, recapturing childhood innocence in a way which could so easily go into pure mush. Risky, but wonderful.

One previous review which baffled me was the one which said there was a shortage of melodies... another, more positive one says it's 'worth the effort'. No effort required ; it's packed with melodies, and they hit the spot from the very first play. Another review quite rightly mentions the rhythmic drive and inventiveness of some tracks ; try 'The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders' for a punchy rhythm which avoids rockist clichés. There's an engaging amateur-hour feel to some of the vocals and backing vocals, which is not to say they're out of tune, just that they sound and feel like real human voices, not massively treated and studio-enhanced ones.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Meek on 12 Sept. 2005
Format: Audio CD
there is so much that can be said about sufjan's latest cd, come on feel the illinoise, but i'll cut to the chase - it is absolutely stunning. for anyone who likes any of his music this cd is a must. it follows the same strain as michigan, not seven swans(or a sun came for that matter), and is in my opinion his best work to date. every song has a vast variety of unorthadox instruments in a way that every song gains from every one of them. like michigan, each song has a long witty name, sometimes to the ridiculus stage. there are 22 tracks, a few of which are fillers (clapping, some string sections etc) but the actual songs are utterly amazing.
there are more than 90% stand out tracks (in my opinion anyway) but my personal favourites are *Come On! Feel The Illinoise!: Parts I & II ( this sounds very much like someting on michigan, but even better!), Jackson, Chicago, Casimir Pulaski Day (my personal favourite off this album), The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts (heavy electric start - gloriusly soft ballad), The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us, The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders. There are several more but they have such long winded names.
This cd is currently all i can play in my cd player, it is unique and beautiful. I recommend it to everyone and anyone who likes good music.
P.S I am going to see him in concert in 2 days! woo
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Oldnathan on 28 May 2009
Format: Audio CD
Quite simply Sufjan Stevens is a God like genius but it took me a while to realise it. I got hold of Illinoise in August 2005 after hearing `Chicago' on the Mark Radcliffe late night BBC Radio 2 show.

Got to be honest I found it hard going in places at the start. It reminded me a bit of Genesis' Lamb Lies Down and Camel's The Snow Goose. Not necessarily flattering comparisons if your view of `prog rock' diminished after the punk wars, as mine did. How wrong I was.

I don't know what it was but something kept dragging me back to it. And maybe after a full six months it slowly began to dawn on me that it was a masterpiece in every sense. After a year I rated it as my all time favourite album and three years after that it still is. And I've had quite a few favourite albums over the years.

After a beautiful opening with (I'll have to abbreviate some of these titles!) the simple piano refrain and vocals of Concerning the UFO Sighting... it goes epic with The Black Hawk War. The two tracks together remind me of how many great novels and films start. You get a taster of the main event. Then it's back to the beginning where it all began. Bit pretentious I know but I can't put it any other way than that.

Then we're off. I won't mention all the tracks but John Wayne Gacy Jr is the best examination of the life of a serial killer and the parallels it may have with your own story, ever put to music. A niche market I suspect. Chicago is majestic and epic and clearly something Saint Sufjan must have considered his best work to date at the time (hence the variations available on sister album Avalanche). You can hear a smidgen of it on Little Miss Sunshine as they scramble to get on the VW at one point.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John E. Davidson on 31 Jan. 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is a truly wonderful and remarkable album. The second step in Sufjan Stevens’ trek around the fifty (US) states, it represents a massive step forward from the earlier Greetings From Michigan (which is merely very good).
To be honest I thought that this would be an album that I would admire but never really like. Nothing could be further from the truth: this is an album that bears and rewards repeated listening. It is complex and sophisticated both musically and lyrically but it remains accessible, engaging and enjoyable. Stevens plays most, if not all, of the instruments in these complex arrangements (I have no idea how he manages to perform live) and the lyrics are strong, packed with wit, humour and invention. Music and lyrics complement each other beautifully.
There are so many highlights on this 22 track album that it almost seems a shame to pick out individual tracks but amongst my favourites are: John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (a haunting song about serial killer Gacy), Chicago (which never fails to lift my spirits) and the wonderful Casimir Pulaski Day.
For me, the best album of 2005.
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