Joseph Campbell would be pissing himself if he weren't dead. The miraculous birth narrative of Wilco's fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot , is already old hat: banished from straightedge AOL Time Warner imprint Reprise on the cosmically short-sighted judgment of label executives who deemed the album a "career-ender," Wilco streamed Yankee Hotel from its left-wing website to millions before signing with weirdo progressive AOL Time Warner imprint Nonesuch. But the unique circumstances of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 's long deliverance make for more than just pointless disc jockey chatter before spinning "Heavy Metal Drummer.
Vast digital pre-circulation, corporate controversy, and buzz like a beard of bees have rendered all reviews afterthoughts at best. But myth is always an afterthought, and these days, the motif I like chewing on best is, without question, that of the Unlikely Hero.
Who would have predicted an album of this magnitude from Wilco? As much I love the band, the fact remains that they were together for five years before they produced anything that could stand with Uncle Tupelo's March , or Anodyne.
Of course, Summerteeth was a strange and majestic, albeit dark, deviation from the alt-country genre Jeff Tweedy co-invented. But since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot , it has retroactively become more of a harbinger of things to come. Upon being pressed by the Chicago Sun-Times about abandoning alt-country, Tweedy dismissively bequeathed the old Wilco sound to Ryan Adams. And you can never go home again. So does Yankee Hotel Foxtrot justify the controversy, delay and buzz?
Everyone, I think, already knows that the answer is yes; all I can offer is "me too" and reiterate. Sexy Trippy All Moods. Drinking Hanging Out In Love. Introspection Late Night Partying.
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Release Date April 23, Imagination Maverick Long Walk. Track Listing. Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy frequently played O'Rourke's album Bad Timing in his car while he traveled during the previous winter. O'Rourke was an accomplished producer as well as a musician, and had produced over albums by the time that Tweedy requested the collaboration. O'Rourke offered the services of drummer Glenn Kotche , and the trio performed at Double Door for the festival on May 14, Tweedy enjoyed the performance so much that he suggested that the trio record an album together.
They chose the name Loose Fur , and recorded six songs during the following summer. By the end of the year, Wilco had recorded enough demo tracks to release a fourth studio album the working title was Here Comes Everybody , but the band was unhappy with some of the takes of the songs.
This was attributed to the inflexibility of Ken Coomer 's drumming. According to American Songwriter , "virtually every attempt [Tweedy] made to steer Coomer toward the percussive sound he had envisioned for the record sparked a fight.
Wilco officially replaced Coomer with Kotche in January , a decision originally proposed by Tweedy and almost immediately approved by the rest of the band. Guitarist Jay Bennett and Chris Brickley served as the audio engineers, and agreed with Tweedy that O'Rourke would be a good choice to mix the album, after a failed attempt to mix a few of the songs at the Chicago Recording Company and after hearing O'Rourke's "audition mix".
Bennett attempted to explain to Tweedy that there were several slightly different ways to approach the transition, each of which would yield slightly different results, but Tweedy explained that he just wanted the problem fixed, and was not concerned with understanding the different approaches.
Bennett focused on the individual songs, while Tweedy focused on larger conceptual and thematic issues—a tried and true division of labor that had worked well on the four releases on which they co-wrote the material. O'Rourke was then asked to mix the rest of the album.
The album was completed in , and Tweedy believed it to be ready for release. Los Angeles photographer Sam Jones contacted Wilco in about producing a documentary film about the creation of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The footage was edited down to 92 minutes, and the film was released to theaters in Time Warner's market share of the music industry had dropped almost five percent from the mids, and the new executives ordered the termination of jobs.
One of those jobs was Reprise Records president Howie Klein, who had been a big supporter of Wilco on the label. Vukovic was unhappy about the album because he felt that his suggestions were not being considered. Kahne wanted a radio single from the album, but he felt that none of the songs were suitable for commercial release. In June , the album was officially rejected and Vukovic suggested that the band independently release the album. Josh Grier, Wilco's lawyer, was able to negotiate a buy-out of the band from Reprise.
Before Wilco could accept the deal, Reprise called the band and changed their offer to give the band the rights to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for free. Despite Reprise's efforts to accommodate Wilco's departure, the process marred public relations after an article in the Chicago Tribune described what had happened. Wilco had planned on releasing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on September 11, , but Tweedy did not want a change in record labels to significantly delay the release of the album.
Within weeks of being released from the label and Jay Bennett leaving the band, MP3s of all tracks from the album began to appear on file sharing networks. In a decision aimed at discouraging the downloading of lower quality unlicensed MP3s and having some control over how the album was distributed, on September 18, , Wilco began streaming the entirety of the album on their official website. The wilcoworld. Traffic to the website quadrupled the normal traffic over the next few months.
The following tour was a success financially, and members of Wilco observed that fans sang along with unreleased songs from the album. Tweedy denied the bids of record labels that did not have a roster of signed artists that he liked. He also decided to ignore small, independent labels because he wanted to be able to put the album out for a large audience and felt that very small labels would be unable to produce more than , copies.
Wilco decided to sign with Warner Music subsidiary Nonesuch Records in November , basing the decision on the label's affiliation with a large company, but also Nonesuch's artist-friendly atmosphere. In the end, Wilco recorded and produced Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with Reprise Records a Warner label , received the rights to the album from Reprise for free, and then had it released by a different Warner label, Nonesuch Records.
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released by Nonesuch on April 23, The album sold 55, copies during its first week of release, peaking on the US Billboard album chart at number The cover of the album is a picture of the two Marina City complex towers in the band's adopted hometown of Chicago.
The album was named after a series of letters in the phonetic alphabet that Tweedy had heard on the Irdial box set The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations. Irdial sued Wilco for copyright infringement , and a settlement was reached out of court. The EP comprised six songs that were recorded but not released during the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sessions including a re-working of "Kamera". On the one-year anniversary of the release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot , Wilco uploaded the EP onto their official website, and offered it for free to anyone who purchased the album.
The band would later allow anyone to download the EP for free off the website, regardless of whether they had purchased the full-length album.
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