Kicking Television: Live in Chicago
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Rather than record a rote greatest-hits megamix interspersed with clichéd banter and canned applause, Wilco stretches out on Kicking Television: Live in Chicago, the band's first official concert album. Jeff Tweedy and company lean heavily on songs from their two critical darlings Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born on this double-disc set, recorded during a four-day stint in the band's hometown last May. While the set list doesn't delve into many older tracks and only includes one cover, the Charles Wright track "Comment," that's fine, because the recent material is riper for reinterpretation. Solos are tweaked and the occasional flashes of noise burst throughout, but the band stays tight as a snare drum. By far the most enjoyable part of the album is hearing guitarist Nels Cline, who joined up with Wilco after the band recorded its last album, interpret the band's music. He treats the music like a jazzman ripping through standards, as loosely defined territory he's free to explore and reinvent with scrappy solos. It can't replicate rocking out front row, but Kicking Television gets the audio part of the equation down.
-- Pat Sisson