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The Wilco Book Hardcover – November 2, 2004
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Between all the critical acclaim, Greg Kot's book on the band, and the introspective I Am Trying to Break Your Heart documentary, you'd think that pretty much everything has already been said about Wilco. But The Wilco Book--the influential rock band's own scrapbook of photos, observations, and random notes--has more than a few revelations for fans. Here we get beautiful photographs of musical instruments (taken apart, being fixed and played) interspersed with quotes about their studio, their performance and recording habits, and their songwriting. Some may think a close-up of a Gibson guitar is a mundane affair, but to Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, that tool of the trade is an important element in the music-making process, worthy of plenty of attention. In addition, there are numerous shots of the band, random images by Fred Tomaselli, a new essay on the ensemble by Rick Moody, and "The Angel Is My Watermark," a piece by Henry Miller that resonates with the group. The enclosed 12-track CD contains previously unheard tracks from the A Ghost Is Born sessions. A couple tunes ("Diamond Claw," "What Good Am I") rank with Wilco's best work, while the rest show the band in the midst of the creative process, making aural sketches. All told, the poignant randomness of The Wilco Book unfolds like a great Wilco album: it's a wonderful mix of compelling experimentation and heartfelt sentiment. A must-have for Wilco lovers. --Jason Verlinde
Wilco on Record
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From Publishers Weekly
In case fans of alt-country turned art-rock band Wilco didn't get enough pertinent reading material this year—including front man Jeff Tweedy's poetry collection, Adult Head, and rock critic Greg Kot's affectionate band bio, Wilco: Learning How to Die—there's this lavishly designed and gorgeously printed collaboration between band members and the New York design company PictureBox. Meant to capture the soulful, rockin', poetically inscrutable essence of Wilco's art, it collects essays, drawings and random comments by Wilco members, organized by their collective interests, including "The Loft" where they rehearse, "The Instruments" they use and the process of "Making a Record." Accompanied by a CD of unreleased material and generously illustrated with beautiful color photographs by Michael Schmelling, it also features Henry Miller's classic essay on creativity, "The Angel Is My Watermark"; an often tortured look at five Wilco songs by Rick Moody; and a section on how the band's soundman prepares for a live concert that gives a fascinating look at the workday of professional musicians. While the book's beauty can't mask its lack of context—biographical or musical—for anyone with a casual interest in the band, there are plenty of hardcore fans out there who'll find it required reading.
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The book also comes with a CD. These are not the polished studio gems of Summerteeth or the country rockers of AM. These are sonic experiments from the "a Ghost is Born era", and have a feeling of no pressure. Tweedy and co work together - Glenn's influence is really felt here. "Pure Bug Beauty" is a favorite of mine, although "diamond claw" is cool, "barnyard pimp" struts its stuff, and the alternate version of "hummingbird" will be a highlight for many.