Andy Gill on albums: Wilco Being There Reprise 9362-46236-2

'Wilco have this precious gift of being able to render a blend of styles with a bar-room warmth and conviction that's entirely beguiling
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The Independent Culture
The first double-album in years that wouldn't have been better as a single LP, this second release from former Uncle Tupelo songwriter Jeff Tweedy's latest band Wilco doesn't have a duff track among its 19 songs. It's already been compared to Exile on Main Street, though it's actually more in keeping with the ramshackle country side of the Stones that produced the likes of "Country Honk" and "Wild Horses". Like them, Wilco have the precious gift of being able to render a blend of styles - in their case, primarily country-rock and raggedy-ass American punk - with a bar-room warmth and conviction that's entirely beguiling.

Tweedy's voice, a dead ringer for Jerry Garcia's, makes several songs sound like a more concise Grateful Dead, but the days when the Dead could crank out a "Rebel Rebel"-style rocker like "Monday" were long gone before Garcia was. At the other end of the energy scale, the slacker biography "Misunderstood" has something of the wistfulness of The Replacements' more poignant moments, managing to make self-pity sound charming: "There's a fortune inside your head/ But all you touch turns to lead/ You think you might just crawl back in bed". But any band that has as keen an insight into the symbiotic nature of the artist/ fan relationship as Wilco displays on "The Lonely 1" has its heart in exactly the right place. The first truly great album of the year.

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