Kicking Television: Live In Chicago
Recorded in Wilco’s hometown, the live double album Kicking Television documents the best from four consecutive nights of Wilco concerts. There are two reasons why a Wilco live album would be worth hearing; firstly, the current lineup is almost completely changed from the group that recorded their first three albums, with less of an alt-country influence, so any new interpretations are inevitably going to be markedly different. Secondly, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born are such studio based albums that any live version is inevitably going to be rawer and less ornate.
The set-list is focused on the latter, covering 3/4 of A Ghost Is Born and 2/3 of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, throwing in a bit of earlier material, although the closest the band get to their alt-country roots are the takes on ‘One By One’ and ‘Airline to Heaven’ from Mermaid Avenue II. I’m not usually too fussed on live albums, but I’m so fond of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born that I’m more than happy to hear alternate versions of most of the songs.
Highlights include the opening ‘Misunderstood’, the guitar jams of ‘At Least That’s What You Said’ and ‘Spiders (Kidsmoke)’ and the cover of Charles Wright’s ‘Comment (If All Men Are Truly Brothers)’ which closes the set. The only other song not to appear on a proper studio record is the title track, a Ghost Is Born b-side, and it’s disappointing, but pretty much the only song here that’s not terrific.
I’d still grab the studio albums first, but if you love them, Kicking Television is a great little appendix.