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The Late Once Again Greats

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 14, 2005 10:41PM

Chicagoist has been a big fan of Wilco over the years but we admit to recently feeling a bit betrayed by the band’s output. We were not a fan of Jeff Tweedy’s last solo album that masqueraded as a full-length Wilco release. We believe that Tweedy is best suited when he has a song-writing partner against whom to bang his head rather than a producing partner who will indulge every inward-turning whim with a constant pat on the back. As a whole we thought, and still think, A Ghost Is Born was one of the biggest musical let-downs of the last year.

2005_11_wilco.jpgTomorrow the band releases their first live album of their career – Kicking Television: Live In Chicago – and it couldn’t come at a better time for the band. Tweedy finally has a healthy foil again in the form of guitar-gawd Nels Cline and the songs, even the flat numbers from Ghost are much improved by his addition. The album was recorded during a four-night stand in Chicago earlier in the year and was supposed to be released simultaneously with a DVD culled from the same shows but apparently the visuals weren’t up to the group’s standards. (You can probably read that last sentence as: Jeff Tweedy finally saw how boring the band is to watch live and realized that people come for the tunes and not the sights.)

So what about those sounds? The tunes really open up under the multi-guitar assault and gain a dynamism lacking in many of the recorded versions. The band also feels comfortable in its own skin operating as a cohesive whole rather than just an outcropping of Tweedy’s ego. The slower songs off Ghost finally breathe and pulse rather than lie in a hermetically sealed state, the rowdier numbers careen and slam and snap with a punky, and the whole thing just sounds engaging and ,well, like Tweedy and company actually care again.

Basically we’re saying that for the first time in a long time the band actually sounds like a band, man. Here’s hoping the line-up behind this live document sticks around long enough to transfer some of this energy into the studio and onto the next Wiclo disc.

Photo from