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Wilco Being There

Wilco Album Reviews

Jeff Tweedy was always the junior partner in the pioneering alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, and when the group split into two factions, all indications were that Jay Farrar’s Son Volt would be the more consequential band. But after 1995’s A.M., multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett joined Wilco, and the band’s ambition and range expanded dramatically on the 1996 double album Being There. From that early peak the band went from strength to strength, with the ornate pop of Summerteeth and the Mermaid Avenue collaborations with Billy Bragg, putting music to unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics.

But sessions for 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot were difficult, and the creative partnership between Tweedy and Bennett soured. The album was acclaimed as a masterpiece, with Tweedy’s emotive writing augmented by electronic effects, but the band who emerged at the end of the sessions were transformed; only Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt remained from the Being There lineup. 2004’s A Ghost Is Born was even more experimental, especially the 15 minute ‘Less Than You Think’, an aural representation of the migraines that Tweedy was experiencing.

2007’s Sky Blue Sky popularised the term “dad-rock’, and accordingly it’s a much more subdued effort, although still impressively crafted. Since then, Wilco have continued creating albums that are less ambitious and less acclaimed than their peak years, while remaining worthwhile. They’ve also gained a reputation as a very good live act, with a stellar back catalogue and virtuoso members like guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glenn Kotche.

Ten Favourite Wilco Songs

Remember The Mountain Bed
Sunken Treasure
Poor Places
Company In My Back
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Impossible Germany
I’m The Man Who Loves You
I Can’t Stand It
Black Bull Nova

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Wilco A.M.

A.M. – Wilco

199), 5.5/10. A.M. is an inauspicious beginning to Wilco’s career; an unremarkable alt country disc.

Wilco Being There

Being There – Wilco

1996, 9.5/10. Multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett joined Wilco for the expansive double album Being There.

Mermaid Avenue Wilco and Billy Bragg

Mermaid Avenue – Billy Bragg and Wilco

1998, 8.5/10. Billy Bragg enlisted the help of Wilco to write new music for Woody Guthrie’s unfinished songs.

Wilco Summerteeth

Summerteeth – Wilco

1999, 7.5/10. The glossy arrangements of Summerteeth aren’t a good fit for Tweedy’s emotive voice.

Mermaid Avenue II Billy Bragg and Wilco

Mermaid Avenue Vol. II – Billy Bragg and Wilco

2000, 7/10. A repeat of the first Mermaid Avenue project is more rock oriented and features strong songs like ‘Remember the Mountain Bed’.

Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco

2002, 9.5/10. Jeff Tweedy’s neuroses and pretty melodies are effective in these brooding soundscapes.

Wilco A Ghost Is Born

A Ghost Is Born – Wilco

2004, 8.5/10. Jeff Tweedy largely gained a new support cast for Wilco’s most experimental album.

Wilco Kicking Television

Kicking Television: Live In Chicago – Wilco

2005, 7.5/10. Recorded in Wilco’s hometown, this live double album cherry picks from four consecutive Wilco gigs.

Wilco Sky Blue Sky

Sky Blue Sky – Wilco

2007, 7.5/10. Spawned the term “dad-rock” and after the adventurous A Ghost Is Born, it’s surprisingly subdued.

Wilco The Album

Wilco (The Album) – Wilco

2009, 6.5/10. Wilco (The Album) feels unfocused and lightweight compared to Wilco’s previous triumphs.

Wilco The Whole Love

The Whole Love – Wilco

2011, 8/10. Doesn’t measure up to early classics, but The Whole Love is Wilco’s best record from their second decade as a band.

Wilco Star Wars

Star Wars – Wilco

Star Wars (2015), not yet rated Star Wars was released as a free digital download in 2015. I don’t really … Continue Reading Star Wars – Wilco

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