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Magnificent Defeat

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 26, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

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By now, Chicago multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett has accomplished enough in his solo career to rid himself of the "ex-Wilco" moniker. The fourth such record since Bennett left the group, The Magnficent Defeat continues similar riff-heavy, rhythm-drenched pattern that began with 2002’s superb The Palace at 4 AM. This time Bennett whittled down a prospective list of six dozen songs into 13 and whipped out an ensemble of probable players (such as Palace cohort Edward Burch) and improbable instruments, including a horde of Hammond organs and a child’s tambourine. Bennett has a uniquely nasal vocal delivery which can too often evoke Elvis Costello, but his ear for pure pop grandeur is palpable on "Wide Open," which could be an outtake from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, and the guitar-driven "Replace You," complete with its meaty Hammond accompaniment. Leaving more than 50 songs left on the chopping block and his creative psyche ever agitating, it’s obvious that Jay Bennett has put that former band outtasite in the rearview. --Scott Holter
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 26, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rykodisc
  • ASIN: B000FIMHXA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,204 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Like a lot of Wilco fans, I was disappointed not only with their recent musical direction ("you need to listen to this - this is serious stuff"), but also with the neverending carousel of talented musicians that spun through the band. In following a band and being a fan, a bond is started, and it was frustrating to see the consistent turmoil in their lineup. And though I found the documentary about Wilco somewhat inciteful, after a few views, it certainly seemed like Jay Bennett got the raw end of that whole deal.

Which is why it's so rewarding to hear Jay bringing it all on "The Magnificent Defeat." This album is a glorious return to the highs of "Summerteeth" and "Being There," with bits of "YHF" sprinkled in, not to mention a smattering of Elvis Costello and other straight-up pop influences. This album is really a rollicking, blast of a ride.

It's clear that Jay has not only let the Wilco past go, but has thrived by being away from it. And indeed, it's now quite appaerent what he brought to the table for them - his influence is certainly missed. Jay's new record delivers the fun and raucousness I miss from the current (but guaranteed-to-be-changing-soon) Wilco, and for me, that makes me smile.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of Wilco - specifically the albums Being There and Summerteeth. I've got them all, but those happen to be my favorites. They both include Jay Bennett, and that's why I picked up this CD. The tunes "Wide Open," "Replace You," and "Overexecusers" all have a relaxed, rocking charm about them that suggest the earlier Wilco. Other songs like the opener "Slow Beautiflly Seconds Faster" sound like they should have been left on the cutting room floor. The song doesn't have much of a tune and is made up of jarring, irritating noises. Also, at times Bennett comes across like an Elvis Costello impersonator. A few others simply didn't click, but the ones that did are memorable. For some reason on Itunes this CD has a horrible rating (one star). I don't know if Wilco fans are that against Bennett or if he has a lot of enemies, but the reviews here make a lot more sense. If you're a fan of early Wilco, then this CD is well worth checking out. You'll hear some some warm, familiar sounds.
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Format: Audio CD
When taking in a new work of art, I try to do my best to seperate the work from the vortex of drama in the artist's life. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad, and I don't always succeed, but I think it's a viable approach. One reason is, to take this album as an example, will anyone care in 25 years if Jay Bennett got a raw deal when he parted company with Wilco (other than Jay Bennett)? Probably not, probably all that will matter is whether the music holds up over time.

Of course, only time will tell!

The skinny: if you like Wilco and are curious about Jay Bennett's solo stuff, by all means, pick this album up and see what you think.

The longer: the Elvis Costello comparisons are inevitable. But listen to, say, "Blood & Chocolate", and then this Jay Bennett album, and see how weak a voice Bennett has in comparison. It's not that he has a bad voice, it's just that it doesn't come close to the power and emotional heft that Costello puts out. Bennett does somber and introspective much better than free-wheeling and powerful. I would also proffer that Bennett seems to share some of Aimee Mann's melodic sensibilities, and perhaps a bit too much fondness for '67 Beatles drum fills and keyboard flourishes.

Other reviews have talked about this album being "fun", and to be honest, I just don't hear the fun. I hear a strange hybrid of first-take looseness and studio trickery. I hear the occasional great song, such as "Survey the Damage", marred by a ruined guitar solo that feels more like posing in front of the song rather than participating in it. I hear NRBQ doing a cover of "Simply Irresistable" ("Overexcusers"). I hear someone turning in their in-the-style-of-the-Hollies book report ("I'm Feelin' Fine").
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