Uncut Editor's Diary

Wilco, Dylan and Sky Blue Sky

Allan Jones

It may not be the most wholly misunderstood album since Bob Dylan's Planet Waves, but as John pointed out in his Wild Mercury Sound blog yesterday, Wilco's new Sky Blue Sky has split their traditionally loyal critical fanbase.

Planet Waves was famously dismissed on release - like New Morning - as a largely vapid celebration of Dylan's Woodstock domesticity, Bob on the old homestead with the missus, bringing up the kids.

Which, when you think about it, is a baffling response to an album with songs as terrifyingly dark as "Dirge" and "Wedding Song".

Blue Sky Blue has been seen by some of its critics as a retreat from Wilco's recent sonic experiments, much as Dylan after John Wesley Harding was thought at the time to have abandoned the reckless creativity of Blonde On Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited.

It's true Sky Blue Sky sounds more conservative on initial listenings than A Ghost Is Born or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot- and in places sounds passably like '70s country rock, impeccably played but not quite as earth-shattering as you might have wanted.

This all all camouflage. Listen more closely and the emotional restlessness of Tweedy's songwriting is amply present, as is the musical invention that ran through the previous couple of albums.

As John pointed out, the new songs fit brilliantly alongside the more familiar highlights and Monday's show at Shepherd's Bush Empire was every bit as good as the Sunday night John wrote about yesterday.

I may take issue with Jeff Tweedy's truculent opinions on Babyshambles and whether it is acceptable at a certain age to be listening to them and singing the praises of the delinquent Doherty, but I've no arguement with him as a songwriter and performer and this was probably the best I've ever seen Wilco.

There was no sign of Bill Fay, however. You might have thought that after appearing on stage for the first time 30 years, his brief cameo with Tweedy on the Sunday night would have given him a taste for the limelight.

Sadly, he couldn't make it. He was visiting his brother in Dorset, Tweedy told us, sounding slightly baffled.

It was the only disappointment of a blindingly good gig. Don't miss them when they come back to play at
the Latitude festival in July.


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