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Storming live-set from Wilco...
on 17 November 2005
Around the time of 'summerteeth' it was shocking how bad a live-band Wilco were - since then half the band have gone ditch-ward and Tweedy's former alt-country crew have embraced Jim O'Rourke, systems-muzik, 'Music for a New Society', Krautrock & 'Metal Machine Music.' As much as I loved 'Being There', the 'Mermaid Avenue' albums & 'summer teeth', Wilco have become a much more interesting band with 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' & 'a ghost is born' - the two albums which much of the material of 'Kicking Television' (recorded to celebrate a decade of Wilco) focus on.
The current Wilco line-up including Tweedy, long-time cohort John Stirratt, Leroy Bach, Glenn Kotche, Nels Cline & Pat Sansone fantastically represent the material here. Already this is one of the great live albums, offering great interpretations of the studio work. There are two 'new' songs (the title track, a cover of Charles Wright's 'Comment') and not much material pre-the year-zero 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.' There is nothing from debut 'A.M.' (which is about right as only 'Passenger Side' & 'Box Full of Letters' really appeal)and only one-track from alt-country classic double LP 'Being There', the opener 'Misunderstood' (which memorably requotes Peter Laughner's 'Amphetamine'from the Rocket from the Tombs days). The gorgeous 'summer teeth' fares better with 'A Shot in the Arm' (which prefigured the droney/repetition thing Wilco expanded on with YHF) & the melancholic 'Via Chicago.' The only diversion from these are the 'Mermaid Avenue'-tracks 'One By One' & 'Airline to Heaven' - the latter is closer to the version featured in the cult-classic film 'Jesus'Son' than the Bragg/Wilco-take (ironically Bragg & The Blokes' tale on the 'Mermaid'-material was equally fantastic...)
The remainder, as suggested, stems from 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' & 'a ghost is born' - two fantastic albums where I reside & the peak of Wilco's career as far as I'm concerned. The highlights at present would be 'Handshake Drugs' followed by the fractal-stoner rock of 'I am Trying to Break Your Heart' (imagine The Jesus & Mary Chain falling asleep with John Cage...no, imagine!)It's all wonderful, mind you, but another peak would include 'Ashes of American Flags' - which becomes more potent with the decades of war, hypocrisy & woe. It will be a National-Anthem within years...My favourite song from 'YHF' remains 'Poor Places' , which comes across wonderfully live, especially when fluxing into post-Kraut'Rourke 'Spiders (kidsmoke)', which comes across a lot more in this live version..
ghosts are born everyday...