Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wilco Kicking Television Live In Chicago 2005

Recorded in front of a home town audience, with a relatively new line-up, Kicking Television is a stellar document of a great live band firing on all cylinders. The recent additions of Nels Cline and Pat Sansone, on guitar noise and keyboards respectively, added greatly to the sound the band was developing.

They were then, as they are now, a remarkable live band. These guys really work together. The song list on this 2-CD affair is heavy on their current release (at the time), A Ghost Is Born 2004, but there's room for songs from almost their entire career up to this point, and the band isn't the same line-up that made A Ghost Is Born.
I can't describe it, not really. In fact, I've probably avoided reviewing any Wilco records for the shear lack of being able to describe the band. The band is this strange hybrid of musical styles, all of them seemingly American, including the musical equivalent of abstract impressionism, country, folk, rock, free jazz, noise and civil disobedience. Jeff Tweedy drives the band as singer and songwriter, and he brings a unique talent and approach to both roles. He's a melodic writer and a languid singer that sounds like he's equally bored and brokenhearted. His vision for the band seems to change quite a bit, and this line-up, which is still together six years later,  is a real ensemble, in that all the players contribute, and they are a particularly skilled bunch. That the studio albums this line-up has made (Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album)) are arguably slightly less interesting than earlier records is probably on Tweedy's shoulders. There's a brand new one out I haven't heard yet. I'll have to report on that soon.

This CD takes many of the best of Tweedy's songs from the 1996-2004 canon, and updates them with this remarkable band that was just getting started. They clearly enjoyed the interplay they were experiencing with each other. They're hot as hell.

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