Category: Wilco

Wilco – A.M.

ARTIST: Wilco                              220px-Wilco

TITLE: A.M.

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #27 Heatseekers

SINGLES: Box Full of Letters

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Must Be High, Casino Queen

LINEUP: Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Ken Coomer, Max Johnston, Brian Henneman. Lloyd Maines adds some pedal steel.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Jeff Tweedy’s Wilco is first out of the gate for the post-Uncle Tupelo bands, but the record is flat and peters out at the end.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even though Jay Tweedy won the battle of Wilco vs. Sun Volt (as it were) in the end, the debut Wilco album definitely didn’t start out great for him or the band.

A.M. was an alt-country album really wedded to Uncle Tupelo’s sound, and while it had a few good to great tracks (the first half of the record), the second half became boring and predictable.

That’s a shame, since the first three tracks (“I Must Be High”, “Casino Queen”, and “Box Full of Letters”) are great. Overall, it’s good but it was disappointing to everyone. Wilco wouldn’t disappoint much after this.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: John Stirratt sang one song on this album – the only non Tweedy vocal on any Wilco record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B-: If you lop it off at about track seven, it’d be an A- or B+.

Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions

ARTIST: Billy Bragg & Wilco  220px-Billy_Bragg_and_Wilco_-_Mermaid_Avenue_-_The_Complete_Sessions
TITLE: Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: Volume 1: #34 US, #90 UK; Volume 2: #61 US, #88 UK
SINGLES: Way Down Yonder in the Minor Key (#118 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you have these, yes, because you played these CDs a lot.
LINEUP: Billy Bragg, Jay Bennett, Ken Coomer, Bob Egan, John Stirratt, Jeff Tweedy, Corey Harris, Natalie Merchant, Peter Yanowitz, Eliza Carthy
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A box set of the the first two Mermaid Avenue volumes, plus outtakes. All you need from these historic sessions.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It was a one-of-a-kind project. Woody Guthrie had scads of poems and writings that weren’t put to music except for some cryptic notations on some of the notebooks. Guthrie’s daughter, wanted these put to music and recorded, but in a contemporary style and not as an imitation of her father.220px-Billy_Bragg_Mermaid_Avenue

Nora Guthrie contacted Billy Bragg, who contacted Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, and they came together and set about on the undertaking. Drafting some extra help, including Natalie Merchant, on some tracks. They compiled several cuts of the lyrics best fit (and deemed most complete) for adaptation, and released two full CD’s of their work.

There was other material in the can, and so for Guthrie’s 100th birthday, Nora Guthrie and the artists compiled a total collection of the albums with an extra disc of outtakes. 220px-Mermaid2

It’s wonderful. Bragg and Wilco put so much heart and soul into the lyrics and music. It makes Woody Guthrie come to life once again. I’d definitely recommend this to any fan of anyone involved: Guthrie, Bragg, Wilco, or even folk and folk rock in general.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There’s a documentary called Man in the Sand about this collaboration.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A: You can slot this right next to your Bragg, Wilco or Guthrie collections and it would fit right in.