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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 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, 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...
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on 12 April 2006
Ok, I can barely begin to believe I'm going to be remotely derogatory of Jeff and the boys. I own all the Wilco albums, love both Loose Fur subsiduarys, adore Mermaid Avenue, even like The Minus Five, and I bought Kicking Television without blinking. But, I kinda wish I had...

Don't get me wrong - this is an excellent collection of songs, a splendid introduction for a newcomer to the band, but as live albums go - maybe it's a throwback from my teen rock days - but I expect a bit more energy and interest from a Live Album.

Another way of putting it: I found myself wondering what the point was. Wilco are tight and professional, album tight in fact. Those mad meandering guitar solos that made Ghost is Born at first difficult then joyous to bear - they're there live - unaltered. And the improvised 'jazz' feel is gone. If ever there was a time to test the limits (which it seems to me Wilco are all about on their albums) then surely live is where the magic kicks off? Nope. It's solid. It's good, great even, but worth committing to disc in double CD form?

Yes - I can hear the outcry: "Are you mad? Via Chicago, dude! The titular track! I Am Trying To Break Your Heart! They're great!"

Sorry, but Via Chicago is the only interesting deviation from the album versions, the only sign of a band pushing themselves and their audience. The rest of it - it's there, it's great, but it ain't NEW.

Nor does the album contain much personality from the band. Jeff Tweedy is a great frontman and is an etertaining speaker between songs. But here there are brief asides of moderate amusement. Again - not good enough to gain the praise and awe others have granted it here.

It's a compilation. A best of. And it's good. But as a Live Album - it fails to reach the imaginative heights expected of Wilco.
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on 19 January 2006
This actually sounds live, not pro-tooled to death. It crackles with electricity and shows that Wilco is not as po-faced a band as suggested by the highbrow critical praise.
The audience really responds to the energy of the band - it makes you wish you had been there. The absolute high point is during Via Chicago, where Tweedy and Stirratt harmonise over a few bars of chaotic noise, never losing the beat, and the whole band cuts straight back in as though nothing had happened! It's fantastic, and the audience appropriately enough go wild.
On Spiders (Kidsmoke), and Handshake Drugs, Tweedy, Nels Cline and Pat Sansone all play lead guitar together in the coda sections - but not the obvious type of lead guitar. It's pretty wild.
I gather this thing was filmed; the official website has one song available to view, go and have a look at that if you have any doubts. Then come back and order the CD.
I was a massive fan of the Jay Bennett-era of this band and really thought they would never recover from his departure/sacking/whatever happened, but here we have the first fully-convincing live incarnation of the band, delivering the goods on disc.
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on 30 December 2005
my first wilco cd was "being there", which i bought because i liked the cover. at the time i was into, and still am, hard rawk! so this album was my first introduction to a new scene to me, in my mind wilco are the greatest of this breed and since hearing the intro to misunderstood way back in 1997 on a cold rainy night i have followed wilco with great passion and am always turning them on to people i meet. so the live record, at last! it is truely a beautiful experience. jeff's voice is right on the money and sounds as if his larynx has been drenched in sour whisky. i always wondered how they would achieve the experimental noise as heard first on ...hotel foxtrot when executed live but these doubts are feeble, they pull it off magnificantly. if you are new to wilco i would suggest "being there" as a kick off but you wouldn't do yourself anyharm in purchasing this live monster as an introduction.
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on 4 January 2006
Wilco are the best band in the world and in 2005 they were absolutely in their best live form. I was lucky enough to see them live to witness the sheer visceral excitement of the combo of Jeff Tweedy's heartbreaking voice, the delicate tunes and the violence of Nels Cline's guitar work. How can something so discordant be so beautiful? I love the fact that Wilco continue to push the envelope. While for other bands releasing a live album can seem a bit lazy, in this case it was absolutely essential. Recorded in their hometown, Chicago, Kicking Television is a valuable and brilliant record of this superb band at their absolute best.
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on 19 November 2005
Since Summerteeth pushed Wilco forward towards commercial acceptance (see "I can't stand it" and the Volvo commercial 5/6 years ago), Jeff Tweedy and his cohorts have turned their back on the rich pastures that awaited them.
2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and last year's A Ghost is Born united everything from the krautrock of Spiders (Kidsmoke) to the psychedelic pioneering of Muzzle of Bees, the discordant drive of 'I am trying to break your heart' and the cacophony of 'Ashes of American Flags' and 'Poor Places' with its jarring fade out of squealing radio interference and the disembodied voice repeating the album titled ad infinitum. 'Kicking Television' is a chance for Tweedy to not only show how happy he is with the current state of play chez Wilco, but also to issue a statement of intent. All bar three or four of these songs are from the last two albums and while the cursory visitor may expect the extraneous feedback to have been smoothed out, in favour of stadium friendly versions of these songs, Wilco do not compromise.
From the opening clatter of Misunderstood to the last note on the record, there is passion, exquisite musicianship and a sense of homecoming - not just because of the return to Tweedy's native Chicago, but in the sense that this unique statement of discord, a journey has been completed. Can't wait for the next studio album ...
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on 24 August 2009
A double CD of Wilco's residency in their hometown, the tight band play lots of the previous 2 albums (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born) and smatterings of the earlier 3 albums and two new songs (title track and closing track). Nothing unremarkable in the arrangements sprinkled with the usual Jeff Tweedy banter. Useful introduction if you've never heard Wilco, and essential if you have all the albums.
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on 22 June 2014
what a great recording of a couple of shows.
the sound balance.and atmosphere of a cracking couple of gigs.
oh the songs are pretty mega too.
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on 27 December 2006
I don't know what it is about this album, but after only a couple of listens you feel like you know all the tracks. I think it's the way they build up the melody in such a clever way that you are almost anticipating the "hook" before you get there. Then they hold off and go in a different direction before suddenly coming back and grabbing you again. It really is the closest thing to perfect "pop" but done so brilliantly you aren't even aware that you're bascially listening to melody driven popular music.

I have my MP3 player set to "Random Play All" but I keep willing it to play tracks from this album. In a world full of generic pop written by teams and produced by marketing people, Wilco are one of only a handful of truly great bands producing truly great music. If you like music, get this.
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on 13 July 2006
To me Wilco sound like Neil Young joined Radiohead with the powers of neither band being diminished... I was new to Wilco and decided to buy this after hearing Jesus, Etc. on a freebie disc and reading positive reviews. I also had a friend who always said they were great .. and boy they were all right! The band have great songs, which are played with dynamism, they use the range of sounds and volume very effectively taking the songs in unexpected directions. If you like Radiohead, Neil Young (think Cortez the Killer rather than Harvest ...) , or R.E.M. you'll enjoy this.

I'll be first in the line next time they come to the UK.
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