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The Wilco thread
Last Post 17 Oct 2006 03:03 PM by Peejay. 43 Replies.
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PeejayUser is Offline
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Peter Teehan

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17 Oct 2006 03:03 PM
    I've only been dipping in and out of this board for a few months now, I'm not sure if Wilco have been discussed before.
    They got alot of mentions in the favourite band thread, so why not start a thread of their own.

    I figure it would be a good question to ask what your favourite album of theirs is, since each of the five albums released (barring maybe the first one) has taken on an identity of its own. I've spoken to people before who love Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but don't particularly care for Wilco's other output (same with Summerteeth). So which of Tweedy & Co.'s is top of your list?

    1. A.M. - Hot off the heels of the Uncle Tupelo break-up. Musically its more of the same country-rock with a lighter approach. Lyrically, its probably Tweedy's most direct. Not a bad start.

    2. Being There - A stronger effort. The band were beginning to find their feet, Tweedy's songwriting was blossoming and Jay Bennet was entering the picture. This is the beginning of the first (and maybe last) purple period. Despite being a, roughly speaking, guitar bass and drums album, they were beginning to experiment with the conventional rock sound even at that early stage (Misunderstood). Compared to the previous album, the diversity of styles they'd developed in one year without resorting to pastiche is a hell of a thing, though I never really like the (too) Stonsey Monday.

    3. Summerteeth - Some say its a step-up from Being There, some say its a step-down. With this album they managed to go even more experimental and out-there than Being There, while at the same time employing a more commercial, radio-friendly approach. I guess the record company convinced them this would be the breakthrough they were waiting for. Fortunately they only relented to record company pressure on the opening track which was (apparently...correct me if I'm wrong) remixed with added sheen for radio play. Well, the radio didn't pay much attention, and all the record company was left with was one of the finest and consistently great albums of the 90's. Jay Bennett played a larger role in the production. I'm not sure how much he actually wrote on the album, maybe someone could comment, but the sound of the album is practically defined by his approach (like the mellotron in She's A Jar or that euphoric heartbeat in Shot In the Arm). Some say its a bit heavy on synthetic "Pro-Tools" sounds, which may date it in years to come, but for now its an inventive, diverse and melodic rock & roll album. A rarity.

    4. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Ok, I'm not going to get bogged down with the whole Warner Bros. scandal surrounding this album. Everybody knows the story, so we'll just skip to the album itself. Interestingly enough, in the movie Tweedy himself couldn't fully explain what the album was ("Its got, er, holes and er...."). I'm guessing before Jim O'Rourke was brought in to re-mix the album it was a much more fragmented piece. Usually home recorded sessions consist of hours and hours of sprawling, unusable nonsense so he (and they all) did well to put together such a consistent album. Maybe it's the least accessible Wilco album yet. I certainly thought so, it took me a long time to get into it but at the same time, its probably the most rewarding of all of their albums once it finally opens up. Where Summerteeth was bursting at the seams with jangly bells, countless over-dubbed guitars, keyboards, piano's and vocals, Yankee was a more restrained. There's only a few artists (or producers) out there who can create an album with such a genuine atmosphere that sucks you in from the first song, and this is one of them. Every sound on the album is perfectly placed, not a wasted moment. There's too many highlights to mention, but the second half of the album from I'm The Man Who Loves You to Reservations is , in my opinion anyway, their finest moment yet.

    5. A Ghost Is Born - Seen by some as an inferior album and the end of their hot streak, a lesser band would kill for an album this good. I didn't warm to it immediately, I focused in on the songs that sounded like cast-offs from previous albums (The Late Greats, I'm a Wheel). Those aside, its a pretty decent effort. Bennets removal from the band can, I guess, attribute to the fact that its the Tweediest of their albums yet. There's very few backing vocals and he takes on more lead-guitar playing.
    To be honest, I don't have much to say about this album. Its got some great songs: Muzzle of Bees, At Least That's What You Said, Spiders, Handshake Drugs. I think it just lacks the character of their previous efforts. The album cover sums it up pretty well: white-washed, maybe a bit bland. The ten minute space in the middle doesn't really help matters either. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh.


    So they're the five. I'm sure I've gotten a few facts wrong, so correct me if I did.

    Any thoughts?

    Another question, does anyone prefer Uncle Tupelo?
    vandalaUser is Offline
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    vandala

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    17 Oct 2006 04:01 PM
    The live LP ("Kicking Television") is actually my favourite. A lot of the stuff off the last two albums really shines on it. Kinda reminds me of "Live Rust" or something.
    strollerUser is Offline
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    stroller

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    17 Oct 2006 05:16 PM
    I'm gonna go for Summerteeth.
    DaraghUser is Offline
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    Daragh Murray

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    17 Oct 2006 05:19 PM
    i dont know much about wilco to be honest, but i do have the woody guthrie covers album they did with billy bragg, and i think that is savage. I know its not their tunes, but they do 'em so well...!
    adminUser is Offline
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    17 Oct 2006 06:02 PM
    Have to say I hold Wilco in huge esteem. One of the few bands that fall into the category of 'would-travel-to-see-them-live' (and indeed I did, venturing once to London and Paris to see them do their live thang). The albums? I have a huge sentimental soft spot for 'Being There', first album of their's that I ever got to know. I have a great memory as well of their Summer Teeth gig in the Olympia. Easily gig of that year (1999?). That night there was that great rawk'n'rawl moment of Jay Bennet chucking his stratocaster into the audience after the last song of the encores (didn't think that sort of stuff really happened) but then my awe was shattered when the roadie came on stage immediately afterwards begging for the guitar to be given back. Excellent! A band that will endure, or something like that. Eoghan
    PeejayUser is Offline
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    Peter Teehan

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    17 Oct 2006 06:24 PM
    quote:
    venturing once to London and Paris to see them do their live thang).
    Yeah, I went to London to see them in the Astoria aswell. They haven't played a proper gig here in about five years. Isn't that a pain in the arse.
    mixtapepublicityUser is Offline
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    mixtapepublicity

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    17 Oct 2006 08:37 PM
    I've seen them play in Sydney twice, do I win for far off gigs? I was front row at that Summerteeth/Olympia gig and it still gives me shivers. It was just incredible, I've been lucky enough to see them play 5 times now but that takes the biscuit. Its criminal they haven't been back here since they made the most of a souless festival tent a couple of summers ago. As for favourite albums, after reading all the above I really can't decide! Each one is so different and special in its own way. Summerteeth is where I started and then worked back from, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot got me through some tough times in that aforementioned Aussie city, I adore A Ghost Is Born after scratching my chin for the first few plays, and Kicking Television shows their live genius. I always enjoyed walking the hallowed corridors & band room where alot of Mermaid Avenue was recorded in Dublin! RIP to The Factory. Love love love Wilco.
    GarUser is Offline
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    Gar

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    17 Oct 2006 08:54 PM
    After stumbling into a crowded tent at Oxegen some years back, mainly to avoid the horrendous downpour of rain, I discovered a band called Wilco. Having played a storming set that day that didn't really represent what I had previously known from the 'Summerteeth' album, I was slightly puzzled. During that gig - they were aggressive, fond of winding guitar solo's, and far from the image I had of them being a placid band that just drifts into the next song without too much fuss being caused. They were wonderfully surprising and hugely entertaining that day. On record, I'd probably go for 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot', although I would be hard pushed to hand over my copy of 'Summerteeth' (even though I don't consider myself a massive fan of the band).
    MarkOUser is Offline
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    MarkO

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    17 Oct 2006 11:46 PM
    Kicking Television. Some bands are just 'too big' for a studio to convey the music. Live albums give them the right outlet. Wilco is one of these bands. I've only seen them once and wish I had been more familiar with the music before I saw them.
    stephenUser is Offline
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    Stephen McNulty

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    18 Oct 2006 06:09 AM
    I stood shoulder to shoulder with our esteemed editor at that Wilco Olympia gig that he mentions in his post and I still have the drum stick that the drummer chucked straight into my hand after the third (?) encore. It was one of the best gigs I've ever seen. One of the reasons it was so great was Jay Bennet. His guitar playing was simply stunning. I've seen them on all their tours since then. Their Foxtrot tour featured a Bennetless band that struggled to fill the gap. While Tweedy can handle the kinda Lennon-like buzzy, off-beam solos, the stuff from Being There just didn't cut it. Since that tour, they've expanded the live band and that's captured superbly on Kicking Television. They're playing with their live sound again whilst, in the past, it seemed as if they'd been burdened with trying to produce the studio product. I see Kicking as an acceptance within the band itself that they are a live band again. I wonder if Jay Bennet has heard it? My favourite of theirs is probably Being There. When Eoghan played it to me, I fell for it immediately. That druggy, stonesy, ragged playing just sucked me in. A classic record.
    Vent My SpleenUser is Offline
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    Vent My Spleen

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    18 Oct 2006 06:37 AM
    So difficult to decide which album to pick. I have a lot of time for AM and the early stuff where you can see how far they have come from the Uncle Tupelo days. Have a soft spot for A Ghost is Born as I played it to death during a month long driving trip around California - there was something quite errie about it's spartan vistas whilst driving through the desert plains. However, I think most will agree that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is probably their finest hour. Just the tension of the situation with the record company, tension with Bennet and Tweedy's problems with chronic migrain and the subsequent dependency on pain killers bleeds into the music. Also, 'I am trying to break your heart' is probably one of the best songs ever written, definitely one of my desert island discs.
    The Hand That WoundsUser is Offline
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    The Hand That Wounds

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    18 Oct 2006 08:17 AM
    They're a band I'd love to see live. I'm relatively unititiated with their first three albums, but I'll chip in my two cents on YHF and AGIB. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - I can kind of see what people mean by this not being an accessible album. Initally it didn't strike me as being particularly brilliant. I was impressed by the range and scope of the songs and their willingness to experiment, but there wasn't an awful lot on first listen that stood in the memory. Looking back at it, it's a very good album. A little overrated, but one that any band would be proud of. There was one review somewhere (can't remember what publication) that said - "What's depressing isn't that Warner Brothers rejected this album because it was experimental and avant-garde. What's depressing is that Warner Brothers rejected this album because this is *their* idea of what encapsulates experimental and avant-garde." I'd go along with that. A Ghost Is Born - This really struck me on the first play and I think it's one of the finest LPs of recent years. At Least That's What You Said is a fantastic opener - fragile, melodic and heartfelt before cascading into a great, inventive solo. Most other bands would have developed the melody of the song into a drippy, radio-friendly pop ballad. I was delighted to hear Wilco veer off at right angles to that concept. After that, it's a litany of great songs from Spiders to Gunsmoke and onwards. The climatic drone was an excellent artistic choice. :-)
    nerrawUser is Offline
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    nerraw

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    18 Oct 2006 09:13 AM
    They played a gig this week in the UK where the leadsinger slapped a fan. Apparently, someone managed to scramble on to the stage and planted a kiss on his cheek in which he responded with a slap. Later in way of explantion, he said the band weren't used to that sort of thing.
    PeejayUser is Offline
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    Peter Teehan

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    18 Oct 2006 11:01 AM
    quote:
    Originally posted by nerraw
    They played a gig this week in the UK where the leadsinger slapped a fan.
    Are you sure?
    amawasterUser is Offline
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    amawaster

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    18 Oct 2006 11:18 AM
    its on pitchfork, think it was in the states tho, subheading of article was "i am trying to break your face" nice!
    silentsighUser is Offline
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    silentsigh

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    18 Oct 2006 03:18 PM
    Stunning Band.Easily in my top 5! I definitely think their best album is between Yankee Hotel and A Ghost is born.Would probably go for the latter if pushed. Absolutely love their DVD aswell, " i am tryin to break yur heart".
    Protein biscuitUser is Offline
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    Protein biscuit

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    18 Oct 2006 03:54 PM
    Was left unconvinced by "A Ghost Is Born". As an album i'd say "YHF" although "Summerteeth" has some catchier, poppier songs on it. I love "Shot in the Arm."
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    blacksheep

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    18 Oct 2006 04:43 PM
    Wilcos last 5 years have seen them release what I consider to be the best music of the decade so far.They have reached that place where their music includes rock,punk,blues,folk,country,rave & jazz yet retains a uniquely identifiable sound that is their own. A couple of points: 1. Tweedy gave up smoking & his voice is getting back registers that he didn't have before 2. Jay Bennett is great yet Nels Cline has to be one of the best guitar players ever to walk the planet.He walks a superb tightrope between sublime melody & experimental dissonance. 3.I don't read it often but I think Wilco are massively influenced by 3 bands.The Band/The Beatles/Steely Dan. The only band who come near them on this side of the world are Super Furry Animals. For me Wilco are a true soul band & deserve to be mentioned among the very greatest music artists.
    MarkOUser is Offline
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    MarkO

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    18 Oct 2006 04:53 PM
    quote:
    Originally posted by amawaster
    its on pitchfork, think it was in the states tho, subheading of article was "i am trying to break your face" nice!
    It wouldn't surprise me. He can get tetchy with the crowd at times.
    UnicronUser is Offline
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    Ian Wright

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    18 Oct 2006 09:16 PM
    quote:
    Originally posted by silentsigh
    Absolutely love their DVD aswell, " i am tryin to break yur heart".
    Man, that was some passive agressive s**t between Jay and Jeff right there. I don't consider myself a big fan of Wilco and to be honest I don't get why they engender some devotion from some people but I still think their last 3 records (a.k.a. the 3 Wilco album that I own) are very very good. If for no other reason than that it contains the otherwordly "Jesus etc." I'd go for YHF.
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