Wilco – Alpha Mike Foxtrot Rare Tracks 1994-2014 [Review]

first_imgWilco has now been around for twenty years. The band has evolved so much in two decades that those only familiar with the band when it was formed might not even recognize the band it is now. Only lead singer Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt stuck around this whole time. The two companion box-sets, Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks and What’s Your 20? Essential Tracks serve both as souvenir pieces for loyal fans and as a documentation for the band’s evolution throughout the years. While What’s Your 20? is the hit-compilation that fans are delighted to see, Alpha Mike Foxtrot is probably the more interesting of the two.This rarities collection is incredibly expansive, containing four disks and 77 songs in total. These include B-sides, demos, live cuts, covers and bonus tracks from each era of the band. It is possible to get lost in this expansive track-list and not know what to focus on, but that is precisely the point. Wilco keeps defining and redefining itself, and this box set embodies their experimenting spirit at the fullest.The first disc largely samples their alt-country years. The three demos that start off the collection demonstrate clearly their sheer acoustic power of those early years. “Blasting Fonda” is another track of interest. Tweedy described it as “the first time it was just Jay Bennett and me in the studio,” which resulted in this slow-tempo, string-swinging B-side track.The second disc gets to their angrier Summerteeth-era B-sides. However, the highlight here are the two covers they included. “One Hundred Years From Now” and “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” originally by The Byrds and Steely Dan, respectively, show the classics’ influence on them. Formed as an alt-country band, it would be no doubt that these classic rock songs had a huge influence in their later musical direction.The latter part of the collection glances over their most successful album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and instead places its focus on their non-album experiments. This includes the entire EP of More Like the Moon and one song from a Spongebob movie soundtrack, speaking of their experimental spirits. The last disk displays their post-YHF dissonance and a return to country roots in tracks such as “Panthers” and “What Light”. The collection then ends ironically with a Nick Lowe cover “I Love My Label”, considering the controversies they have had with their labels over the years.This collection is a fluid tribute to the band’s constant evolution. Strangely, despite how much they have changed, this box set creates a certain harmony among their different eras. For die-hard fans, this is going to unquestionably be a more interesting collection than their hit compilation.last_img

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