Friday, July 11, 2008

In defense of Nels Cline

I've heard a lot of criticism of Nels Cline's contribution to Wilco; that he "overplays." I find his playing in Wilco to be quite sublime.

When people are bashing the Nels era Wilco, they often refer to the noise rock experiments that Wilco delved into beginning with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Often, these same people remember the country rock infused, alcohol soaked rock that Wilco would blast from the stage prior to that, and fondly remember a sweaty Jay Bennett enthusiastically punishing the fretboard of his guitar, sweat flinging from his dreads and point to Tweedy's kicking him out of the band as the turning away from righteous rock.

The trouble with that is Bennett was one of the fathers of YHF. Anyone that watched the documentary "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" would know that.

I recently downloaded a show that Wilco performed on May 18th, 2008. Here are a few tracks that illustrate my point:

Ashes of American Flags (Here the noise that carried on at the end of the studio track is replaced with Cline's soaring solo):

Ashes Of American Flags - Wilco

A rarity; Wilco playing an Uncle Tupelo song in 2008 (Cline's lap steel is tastefully understated):

New Madrid - Wilco

And California Stars, with more tasteful lap steel (and a verse with "Positively Fourth Street" keyboard, and some kick ass piano):

California Stars - Wilco

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