Shortening of "Will comply". as in "Roger, Wilco".

Why is it that every single article on Wilco always uses the words "seminal alt-country"?

Wilco was formed in 1994 from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, a fairly well respected alt-country band led by Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy formed Wilco with Uncle Tuepelo drummer Ken Coomer, bassist John Stirrat, and Max Johnston (who played about anything with strings). Only Jay Farrar from Uncle Tupelo went elsewhere, forming the band Son Volt who have done some comendable roots rock type stuff. Wilco recruited guitarist Jay Bennet and started work on their first album, A.M which was released in 1995. The album wasn't anything new, fairly typical stuff that Tweedy had been doing for a while with Uncle Tupelo. Not bad, but not anything really special either.

In 1996, Wilco came out with their second album, Being There. This was a complete departure from earlier work, scrapping a lot of the alt-country sound and instead getting influences from about everywhere else. Several songs are clearly Beatles psychedelia influenced songs, some tracks are along the lines of power pop, there are some soul and orchesteral touches, and even a bit of R&B influence makes an appearance. Overall it's pretty well done overall, an interesting experiment in music and it's nice to see them branch out a bit. But (and there's always a but), it does get a bit tedious at times and some of the songs just don't really work. Also, 19 tracks on two cd's is a bit much. Most of the tracks are fairly short, and really if you cut 2-3 songs off the album it would fit on one cd. But hey... Overall it's a good album, if not quite the musical masterpiece it was trying to be.

After the release of Being There, some tensions formed in the band and Max Johnston left the band to pursue other interests and guitarist Bob Egan joined on. Shortly after Johnston left, Stirratt, Bennett and Coomer began to work on a side project called Courtesy Move which I know nothing about and seems to have not really done anything anyway, so I'll just move on...

In 1998, Wilco released Mermaid Avenue with British Folk Rocker Billy Bragg. The album was a collection of unreleased Woody Guthrie songs. Tweedy and Bragg were both approached by Guthrie's daughter to try and create some new music for the thousands of completed lyrics Guthrie had left behind. They both managed to come up with some nice interperetations, keeping the spirit and folk sound of Guthrie's work with a more modern rock influence. There are 15 tracks on the album, split almost evenly between Wilco and Bragg, each doing their own interesting take on the work. This launched the only Wilco song I've ever heard on the radio, California Stars.

In 1999, Wilco released their third album (excluding the work with Billy Bragg), Summer Teeth. This is, in my opinion, their finest album. It's a bit of a departure again, sticking with more straighforward rock influences, but at the same time it's a bit broody and dark. Not in a depressing way, but just a bit mellow and introspective. The steel guitar and mandolin are gone, replaced with violins, cellos, and organs. The entire album is nicely layered, if slightly heavy on the production, and is a bit of an emotional roller coaster going from the anxiety filled Can't Stand It to the self reassuring Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway and all the way to the sarcasm of How to Fight Loneliness. It's an amazing trip. Not only is the music exceptional filled with nice melodies and musical fills, but the lyrics and Jeff's emotional delivery also leave you in a bit of suspense on where the story is going to go next. Overall, this is an amazing album, go buy it right now.

In 2000, Wilco again released an album with Billy Bragg, this time Mermaid Avenue, Volume 2. Unfortunately this one failed to match the previous attempt. It is pretty apparent on this album that Bragg and Wilco are coming at this from two different angles, with Bragg trying to capture the folk essense of Guthrie's work while Wilco is splicing their own type of music to Guthrie's words. The whole album is just not consistent and leaves you wishing it were. Not bad, but not the interesting composition of the first album.

Following this release, tensions in the band were pretty high. Drummer Ken Coomer left the band and was replaced by Glenn Kotche. While recording their fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, tensions in the band rose further leading to the departure of guitarist Jay Bennet. There were also a lot of tensions with the record label over the direction of the album, and Wilco bought the studio tapes from Warner and left the label. They are currently (October 2001) on a small tour to support the unreleased album, when we'll ever see it I have no idea.


There are a few EP's out there too, but I can't find any info on them.

A.M. - 1995 (Sire/Reprise)

  1. I Must Be High
  2. Casino Queen
  3. Box Full of Letters
  4. Shouldn't Be Ashamed
  5. Pick up the Change
  6. I Thought I Held You
  7. That's Not the Issue
  8. It's Just that Simple
  9. Should've Been in Love
  10. Passenger Side
  11. Dash 7
  12. Blue Eyed Soul
  13. Too Far Apart

Being There - 1996 (Sire/Reprise)

  1. Misunderstood
  2. Far, Far Away
  3. Monday
  4. Outtasite (Outta Mind)
  5. Forget the Flowers
  6. Red-Eyed and Blue
  7. I Got You (At the End of the Century)
  8. What's the World Got in Store
  9. Hotel Arizona
  10. Say You Miss Me
  11. Sunken Treasure
  12. Someday Soon
  13. Outta Mind (Outta Sight)
  14. Someone Else's Song
  15. Kingpin
  16. (Was I) In Your Dreams
  17. Why Would You Wanna Live
  18. The Lonely 1
  19. Dreamer in my Dreams

Mermaid Avenue - 1998

  1. Walt Whitman's Niece (Bragg)
  2. California Stars (Wilco)
  3. Way over Yonder in the Minor Key (Bragg)
  4. Birds and Ships (Bragg)
  5. Hoodoo Voodoo (Bragg/Wilco)
  6. She Came Along to Me (Bragg/Wilco)
  7. At My Window Sad and Lonely (Wilco)
  8. Ingrid Bergman (Bragg)
  9. Christ for President (Wilco)
  10. I Guess I Planted (Bragg)
  11. One by One (Wilco)
  12. Eisler on the Go (Bragg)
  13. Hesitating Beauty (Wilco)
  14. Another Man's Done Gone (Bragg)
  15. The Unwelcome Guest (Bragg)

Summer Teeth - 1999 (Warner)

  1. Can't Stand It
  2. She's a Jar
  3. A Shot in the Arm
  4. We're Just Friends
  5. I'm Always in Love
  6. Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)
  7. Pieholden Suite
  8. How to Fight Loneliness
  9. Via Chicago
  10. ELT
  11. My Darling
  12. When You Wake up Feeling Old
  13. Summer Teeth
  14. In a Future Age
  15. Candyfloss
  16. Summer Teeth
  17. In a Future Age

Mermaid Avenue, Volume 2 - 2000

  1. Airline to Heaven (Wilco)
  2. My Flying Saucer (Bragg)
  3. Feed of Man (Wilco)
  4. Hot Rod Hotel (Bragg)
  5. I Was Born (Bragg)
  6. Secret of the Sea (Wilco)
  7. Stetson Kennedy (Bragg)
  8. Remember the Mountain Bed (Wilco)
  9. Blood of the Lamb (Wilco)
  10. Aginst Th' Law (Bragg)
  11. All You Fascists (Bragg)
  12. Joe Dimaggio Done It Again (Bragg)
  13. Meanest Man (Bragg)
  14. Black Wind Blowing (Bragg)
  15. Somebody Some Morning Sometime (Wilco)

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - 2002

  1. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
  2. Kamera
  3. Radio Cure
  4. War on War
  5. Jesus, etc.
  6. Ashes of American Flags
  7. Heavy Metal Drummer
  8. I'm the Man who Loves You
  9. Pot Kettle Black
  10. Poor Places
  11. Reservations

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