Wilco
Kicking Television: Live in Chicago


4.5
superb

Review

by JAD USER (11 Reviews)
April 1st, 2007 | 19 replies | 6,406 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The rare live album that truly transcends a bands studio recording, this is a fantastic record that really shows Wilco in their element.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Live albums can be, and usually are, a very tough product to create. No matter how good an artists intentions when attempting to recreate a concert-goer's experience or provide a taste of what the band sounds like live, there’s no denying the amount of times the listener has to stop the CD and think "that twenty minute drum solo might have sounded cool if I was there, but now...?" This is, of course, why artist create concert films, home videos, and now DVDs. And while watching your favorite band kick out the jams on your TV screen may not come close to actually being there, it can still be pretty damn fun. And despite all the misgivings people can have about live albums, they can be incredibly good. Artists all over the map have produced phenomenal live alums: The Who's Live at Leeds, The Allman Brothers' At Fillmore East, Iron Maiden's Live After Death, or The Roots' The Roots Come Alive. These albums are all so good because they transcend their original studio counterparts; whether it be because the listener really feels the energy of a live concert or because the songs finally take their proper shape on stage. So when it finally came time for indie legends Wilco to record a live album, I was a bit perplexed.

Fronted and, for the most part, directed by Jeff Tweedy, a scraggly haired guy with an off key voice, Wilco have fused post millennium Radiohead-style atonal noise with heart on your sleeve, earnest world weary songwriting. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, but in fact it’s a match made in heaven (at least to Wilco’s ever growing fanbase.) Coming from seminal alt. country band Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy has a good education in country rock, and he showed it to the world with early Wilco releases like A.M. and Being There, but he really found his voice when he recorded Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. A truly great record, Foxtrot gave Wilco a whole new group of fans (so many, that the album broke through the 20s on the charts,) and a whole new musical direction. But in the middle of all this success, Wilco seemed to be coming out at the seams. Key member Jay Bennet left and so did Guitarist Leroy Bach soon after. But Tweedy found himself a bizarre, but wonderful lineup. Joining longtime rhythm section of John Stirrat (bass) and Glenn Kotche (drums) were keyboardists and noisemakers Pat Samsone and Mike Jorgensen and, of all people, celebrated free jazz guitarist Nels Cline, a man over a decade Tweedy’s senior. Jeff Tweedy has, in numerous interviews, stated that this is the definitive lineup of Wilco, and that its here to stay, and listening to this album I can only say he’s no doubt write on the first count and I’ve got my fingers crossed on the second.

Culled from a four night stand at the Vic Theatre in the band hometown of Chicago, Television’s setlist will no doubt delight any fan of the groups modern work. Kicking off with the classic Being There opener Misunderstood, its immediately easy to see that this will be a great album. The song itself doesn’t sound all that different from the studio version, but there’s just an extra bit of…something that it has, and its not just Jeff Tweedy shouting “nothing” 36 times. And while Misunderstood may not be that different from its studio, counterpart, many of the songs on here benefit from fleshed out arrangements and angrier, nosier codas. Hell is Chrome sounds miles ahead of the already great original. The concert fav Jesus Etc. is wonderful as well, with its strings replaced by mournful organ and weepy slide. Via Chicago sounds absolutely beautiful, and the Neil Young-esque guitar histrionics of I’m the Man Who Loves You are let loose with joyous abandon by Tweedy and Cline as the song bounces along. In fact, the entire lineup really seems to have clicked perfectly. The presence two keyboardists may sound pretty pretentious, but it works beautifully; how else could they have kept the in studio noise with the more straight forward piano arrangements of songs like their signature I Am Trying to Break Your Heart or the unforgettable Ashes of American Flags? Sure, their spry pop songs like The Late Greats and Heavy Metal Drummer may not have the exact same bounce of their originals, but the energy they’re infused with more than make up for it.

Besides a great setlist and a perfectly in sync lineup there a other reasons why any Wilco fan should buy this. For one, there’s a previously unreleased song Kicking Television, a catchy all out rock song that sounds like it was written for a live audience. I’m sure I’m not the only one who heard Nels Cline for the first time on this album, and then went on to discover his extensive body of work. Honestly, though, all you can say about this is that it’s a really, really good piece of music, maybe Wilco’s best. And for a live album, that’s saying something. I’d tell the reader to go buy this right now, but I’m a Wilco fanboy, what do I know?



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user ratings (86)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
JAD
April 1st 2007



200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wow, that was a lot wordier than I intended, maybe i'll trim it down a bit.

Doppelganger
April 1st 2007



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is a really good first review, but you should have cut down the band history.

Two-Headed Boy
April 1st 2007



4527 Comments


Excellent review. I really need this album, but it's high price is kind of intimidating.

Doppelganger
April 1st 2007



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My dad actually has this, I should probably go find it.

Riley12988
April 2nd 2007



109 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

SO glad you reviewed this... it is most definitely one of my favorites of all time.

Can't wait to hear the new studio attempt and how the new line-up affects it.This Message Edited On 05.09.07

JAD
April 6th 2007



200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the good comments and such.

sutinblev
April 14th 2007



6 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

definately a solid review. Great album. Via Chicago is perfomed amazingly.

Sepstrup
May 17th 2007



1563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just listened to this for the first time, having only heard Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by the band, and I want to rate this a 4,5. Damn good.

Digging: How to Dress Well - What Is This Heart?

Slaapkamers
May 17th 2007



596 Comments


Get Being There.

artificialhigh
October 28th 2007



12 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Excellent album, although 'Ashes of American Flags' and 'Poor Places' will never translate as well live as they do on YHF.

Doppelganger
March 24th 2008



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is incredible.

Eliminator
March 24th 2008



2067 Comments


the softer songs dont translate as well live tbh

Doppelganger
March 24th 2008



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree for the most part. Others, like Spiders and Handshake Drugs, just plain rape their studio counterparts.

Eliminator
March 24th 2008



2067 Comments


definitely

also at least thats not what you said JIZZTASTIC

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 3rd 2009



3743 Comments


so good

Doppelganger
May 3rd 2009



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, listening to this again. Just saw them last week and it was completely perfect. They played everything I wanted to hear, including Spiders.

instantradical
October 30th 2009



199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I daresay I like this album more than YHF.

The whole band just sounds amazing live. Nels Cline is the real star, though. The solo on Ashes of American Flags is just stunningly beautiful - the live version of this song just absolutely trounces the studio recording. Not to mention the psychedelic guitar fury of Spiders, noise freakouts in Via Chicago, ripping jams in At Least That's What You Said, and a few tasteful, pretty notes in Poor Places.

Wilco really loses a lot of restraint in live performances which works spectacularly well for them. All the noise and lead guitar really helps to elevate well-constructed songs beyond might otherwise be simple adult contemporary rock.

imnotthere420
November 13th 2009



106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

nels cline is THE MAN. dude is insane live.

ILLIMINATOR
December 16th 2010



44 Comments


needs more songs from BEING THERE



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