Wilco: Album by Album

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Parachute Woman, May 11, 2020.

  1. jalexander

    jalexander Forum Resident

    Good point... technically I guess he’s doing banjo rolls on the electric? Combined with the banjo, it definitely adds a trad country feel which is a bit of a palate cleanser at this point in the album.
  2. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    Good point, but I would think that Jeff and the band would have put some thought into the sequencing. It seems to be very important to him on all of the other albums. Maybe the slight change on the reissues is how they wanted it?

    I don’t think I would change it. In my opinion, side 1 is much stronger, but I don’t want to jump ahead with all of my thoughts on side 2 yet. Being the debut album by Wilco I think the strong side 1 was important. Trying to knock out the listener straight away is sometimes a good approach. Side 2 still has its moments.
  3. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Yep. And it worked.
  4. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    "That's Not The Issue" is the first weak point on the album for me. It just doesn't rise to the quality level set by the first six songs. It's not bad, of course, it's just the sort of song that (if I were ever inclined to) would receive a hit of the "skip" button. It's very well played, but I don't like the melody or Tweedy's vocal delivery very much. Something about it seems a little bit insincere as compared to the heart-on-sleeve emotions of the last four songs. If it were longer, I'd probably more actively dislike it. However, it doesn't overstay its welcome and it serves as a bit of a sonic lightener before we dive back into the more plaintive emotion that blankets the majority of A.M.

    I'm not sure if I think this is the worst track on the album, but there's only one other possible candidate for that "honor" coming up and I can't remember how that one goes (and I'm not going to cheat and listen ahead!).
  5. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    Yeah, it's my favorite on the album! No consensus here.
    Zeki likes this.
  6. planetexpress

    planetexpress Hypnotist Collector

    OK much differently may be a bit extreme but if given the choice I would have put "I Must Be High" at the end of Side 1 and started Side 2 with either "Casino Queen" or "Box Full of Letters" both of which make solid openers. I'm sure plenty of thought went into the sequencing of the album; just not where to take a break in the middle since it wasn't really a thing anymore. If I had to guess the altered sides happened once Jeff realized Side 1 ended with "I Thought I Held You" (which he hates) and was able to change the order on the remaster so that wasn't the last impression made before flipping the record but that's pure speculation on my part and probably untrue...
  7. jumpinjulian

    jumpinjulian Forum Resident

    The song is written and sung by bass player John Stirrart. I agree it’s seems like a week spot on the album, but when they play it live it’s a highlight! (Jeff plays bass, John sings and plays acoustic guitar).

    Anyway that’s where you’d notice the different vocal delivery!
  8. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    You’re thinking of tomorrow’s song, “It’s Not That Simple.” (If I’m understanding you correctly). That’s the Stirratt song.
  9. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    You’re getting ahead by a day!
  10. Rockford & Roll

    Rockford & Roll Forum Resident

    Midway, KY
    Well if I were sequencing it, I'd separate "I Thought I Held You" from "That's Not The Issue" - break up the banjo a bit. And if it were vinyl, to boot, I'd have "Should've Been In Love" as the lead off track on side two, followed by "It's Just Simple" and "Passenger Side" for a varied one-two-three punch.
    jumpinjulian, robcar, Zeki and 2 others like this.
  11. John C Bradley Jr

    John C Bradley Jr Forum Resident

    Columbia, SC
    Jumping way, way, way, way ahead but listening to "The Current" Radio while I work and just heard the new Mavis Staples song with Jeff Tweedy singing along. Had not heard it before. Love hearing those two sing together.

    Did not mean to hijack the thread, back to A.M......
    Rockford & Roll likes this.
  12. HenryH

    HenryH Forum Resident

    "That's Not The Issue"

    Yeah, this brings a kind of balance to the album, considering the general direction of the tracks on here. It's a fairly amiable, easygoing tune, with some nice banjo work. I don't know enough about the band to speculate about their direction at this point, but I've always assumed that it was just another side to their repertoire. Good tune.
  13. jumpinjulian

    jumpinjulian Forum Resident

    Sorry! I stand corrected! It was the middle of the night here in Australia when I read and replied to that post!

    I do agree ‘That’s Not The Issue’ is a weak spot in an otherwise very strong album. Kinda feels like a throw away. Still I’d rather it’s on there than not. It is enjoyable enough to warrant inclusion I think - it’s just not as strong as the other songs.
  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus

    I like the sound of "That's Not the Issue": electric bluegrass. You can kind of hear the musicians struggling a bit with the form, but that kind of adds to the laconic relaxed atmosphere. There's a weariness to the song that Jeff's voice suits perfectly. Gee, I suppose I'm going to sound a bit repetitive if I keep praising Jeff Tweedy's voice. Anyway, the song is a good solid one in my opinion; I wouldn't say it was unmemorable, but it's mainly the voice and the band performance that keep me interested.

    2.7/5 (which means I like it, but I don't think it's great.)
  15. gjp163

    gjp163 Forum Resident

    This +1 (I have edited your post scribex6 but agree 100%) I will say that “I Must Be High” and a song that I won’t jump ahead to out of respect of the thread are the only highlights for me. From the next album....WOW
    scribex6 and Zeki like this.
  16. Interpolantics

    Interpolantics Forum Resident

    New to the thread but a longtime Wilco fan.

    AM is a good album but pales in comparison to the rest of the immense Wilco catalogue.

    "That's Not The Issue" always gives me Rick Danko vibes which is a big plus
  17. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Positivity Thread Starter

    Next, this anomaly:

    It's Just That Simple

    The only song in the Wilco catalog written and sung by someone other than Jeff Tweedy, this sweet country ballad from John Stirratt simply calls out for comparisons to Gram Parsons. It fits right in with Hot Burrito and other Parsons cosmic American ballads. The quivering fragility of his voice reminds me of Gram as well. There's some Rick Danko in there too. Stirratt submitted multiple songs for consider to make the album but this was the only one that got on (the rest are bonus tracks on the deluxe edition so we'll touch on those a bit later). I wonder what it was about this particular track that pushed it over the edge and got it onto the record? I actually quite like it. That pedal steel from Lloyd Maines is just weepingly emotional and John's higher-pitched vocals add to the pleading quality of the song. Pretty good lyrics too. They walk by the lake and they don't even "make a ripple," such is the inconsequential nature of their romance.

    Jeff had this to say about the song: "Every time John plays that song, I think how nice it would be if John had more songs in the Wilco catalogue that we could draw upon. On a purely selfish note, I think it's kind of fun to sit back and play the bass and take a little break."

    Despite these comments, it remains the only Stirratt composition on a Wilco album.
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  18. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Positivity Thread Starter

    Here's a very well-recorded live performance of the song from KEXP in 2015:
  19. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Greg Kot ‘Wilco: Learning How To Die’, p.92:
    “But only Stirratt came through with contributions for the first album. The bassist submitted three songs that reached the demo stage for A.M., and one—the gorgeous country lament “It’s Just That Simple”—made it onto the finished album.
    “One of the reasons I went with Jeff instead of Jay is I thought I might have a better shot to break into the songwriting,” Stirratt says....” I was back in New Orleans when I got a copy of the master recording, and it had only one of my songs on it. I was hoping for at least two.”
  20. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D Well...you could have.
  21. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Yes, my feelings, exactly.
  22. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley 5.1 should be mandatory for my favourite albums

    It's Just That Simple
    Another cool country track. I think Parachute Woman covered it pretty much.
    I'm not familiar with the Burrito Brothers, but I fo get a somewhat The Band vibe from the vocal particularly.
    Enjoyable song.
  23. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Positivity Thread Starter

    Mark: compare 'It's Just That Simple' to this:

    Aw...poor guy. That didn't exactly work out for him! But John has still had a really nice gig being in Wilco all these years and he's added his own mark to the band. He seems pretty beloved by fans too, being the only other guy who has been there since the very beginning.
  24. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley 5.1 should be mandatory for my favourite albums

    Yea I can hear a relation there.
    A feel thing
  25. tulumdedoo

    tulumdedoo Forum Resident

    John does sound like Rick Danko, who's my favorite musician of all time (<--- duh). Plus, I tend to gravitate toward loving the 'unsung' figures in bands, who tend to be the bassists...Ben Shepherd, JPJ, etc. etc., and in our case, Stirratt. And then, pedal steel is my favorite instrument of all time...

    Add these together and you get a song that you'd think I would love, but I don't. It's not bad, of course, but it's just a sign to me that AM is unfocused and haphazard. It's the album of a band feeling its way out. They're killer musicians but they haven't found their project yet. "Wilco" is not just an "alt-country" band doing Burritos II.

    It's a competent tune and in the grand scope of their catalog, that's fine...but we all know by now that "competent" is not nearly as good as it can get. In a vacuum, though (pretend we're back in 1995 and Being There and YHF and SBS don't yet exist), yeah, I'd probably pop this in & spark a Marlboro Light & chill in the twilight in my busted screen porch, swattin' mosquitoes and enjoying it enough.

    Fake edit: I quit smoking years ago & I still love John Stirratt no matter what.

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