Wilco - Kicking Television (Live In Chicago)
Wilco's last studio album, The Grammy Award winning "A Ghost Is Born" was considered by critics and fans alike to be their finest work to date. To keep restless fans happy before the band embark on the official follow up, Wilco have released a double live album comprising of two hours of material from a concert staged in their hometown of Chicago. Coming in at 23 tracks over 2 CD's its certainly good value for money.
On CD1 "Company In My Back" has country guitars and a spoken word vocal delivery from troubled frontman Jeff Tweedy. It's mellow, mournful yet at the same time uplifting. There's some gifted instrumentation on this track with synths, piano and percussion evoking a mood of melancholy. When Tweedy sings "listen to my eyes" you can hear the sadness in his voice. "I'm Trying To Break Your Heart" has a long intro with drums, guitars and piano all vying for your attention. Tweedy's mumbled, croaky vocal takes time to become accustomed to. It has a feeling of Bruce Springsteen baring his soul especially when confiding "what was I thinking when I let you back" with genuine emotional resonance. "Wishful Thinking" opens in squalls of feedback before settling down into a more cohesive, mid tempo country folk song with a sterling turn from Nels Cline on lap steel guitar.
Over on CD2 the concert continues with "Muzzle Of Bees". A restrained and low key song which brings much excitement from the crowd who whoop and holla. Jeff's throaty vocals at this junction of simply accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano before an unexpected burst of out of tune electric guitar. "Airline To Heaven has echoes of Steve Earle with it's folk fused country stylings and is moving but unsentimental. Considering the political climate we're living with at the moment, the lyric "you can fly to heaven on time" offers plenty of contemplation and food for thought. "Comment" is a protest song in favour of peace and is quite prophetic. With its dramatic strings and jazz guitar and heartfelt lyrics this is simply an adorable track with the line "what is a man without a friend" quite reassuring.
"Kicking Television: Live In Chicago" is certainly a lot of Wilco, but its a concert well put together for a band who are most well known in Britain for collaborating with Billy Bragg on some unrecorded, newly discovered Woody Gutherie songs.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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