Whenever I listen to Wilco these days it automatically brings me back to the time I spent in Los Angeles. That's where I discovered Wilco (through their Summerteeth album) and where I saw them live for the first time. It was at the El Rey and they blew me away. So finally, after releasing five great albums and a critically acclaimed DVD, they come to us with their latest album, Kicking Television, a two-disc, two hour live epic recorded in their hometown of Chicago at the Vic Theater.
The album spans nearly their entire career, excluding their less-than-stellar first album, A.M. and focuses on mostly newer material. For those die-hard Wilco fans out there, the album doesn't bring anything new to the table. Wilco bootlegs have been passed around for years, even I have two and I don’t even collect bootlegs. The songs are played well, but not too well. That is, they still sound live and have those little nuance differences that perfectionists like me like to pick out. Since it's an official release though, the major thing here is the sound quality. In fact, it's one of the best live discs, quality wise, I've heard since Radiohead's I Might Be Wrong. Combining their performance with a perfect mix of the crowd's response, the energy from both the band and the crowd is evident on every track, especially during the disintegration and reemergence of "Via Chicago" when the crowd explodes right along with music. There's not too many ('post') alt-country bands who make as much noise and dissonance as Wilco, and they do it well, feedback and all. Other highlights are the quiet to loud "At Least That's What You Said" and, at last, a great live version of "A Shot in the Arm." Those unfamiliar with Wilco would probably best be served with taking an introductory course with Being There and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Though Kicking Television does serve as a great addition to Wilco’s already stellar catalogue and it even made me go back and give A Ghost is Born (which I initially didn’t like) a new listen. So, with me ending up with basically two new albums to enjoy, I’d say Kicking Television did a good job. Whether you're a new Wilco fan or a long-time disciple Jeff Tweedy, Kicking Television will do you right.