It seems Wilco songwriter Jeff Tweedy weathers one storm only for another to take its place. His previous band, venerated country rockers Uncle Tupelo, disintegrated in 1994 along with his partnership with Jay Farrar (now of Son Volt). The first Wilco album, Am (1995), didn't quite fulfil the high expectations of Uncle Tupelo disciples, leaving Farrer to be cast as the surviving hero of the deceased Midwest band. And now, two years on, mixed fortunes continue: Wilco have been deified by the critics for new second album Being There, but there's just one problem - Max Johnston, fiddle, banjo and dobro player - has just deserted the ranks. A fine start to the British tour. But, knowing Tweedy, the stress will result in no more than another laughter line around the eyes. He can handle it. His lyrics drink from philosophical reservoirs on long player Being There - a two-CD double album, inspired by a 200-date trawl around America and the birth of his first baby. Tweedy seems at home when he balances intimate perspectives and an expansive musical repertoire - he combines personal muses with emotional soundtracks which shift from country to folk to AOR almost effortlessly.
Sometimes Tweedy is a little too enamoured of vintage rock values, such as on "I Got You (At The End of the Century)"; surprising, seeing as Uncle Tupelo had a punk edge. And in "What's The World Got In Store", his voice creaks like antiquated floorboards, and the music is too mellow to take you anywhere dangerous. But part two of the album has highlights in the shape of "Sunken Treasure", when Tweedy throws out the lines "Music is my saviour/ I was weaned by rock and roll" to the backdrop of heavy atmospheric melancholy. The country moves of "Someone Else's Song" and the 1960s beat- rock-meets-Nashville twang of "Why Would You Wanna Live" show a man who can wring new ideas out of classic guitar sounds. Uncle Tupelo were ones for turning insides to blancmange live, so maybe Wilco could just do the same, Johnston's disappearance notwithstanding. Tweedy is the kind of man who can pull off just about anything.
EYE ON THE NEW Despite the fact that the band's average age is still only 22, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci are already on their fourth album and currently can be seen on tour nationwide. Recent single "Diamond Dew" was their normal soft- pop-with-a twist winner, a good taster for their major label debut long- player Barafundle.
Sheffield Leadmill 12 Apr; Newcastle Riverside 13 Apr; Birmingham Irish Centre 15 Apr, Manchester Uni 16 AprReuse content