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LISTEN: Wilco's Alpha Mike Foxtrot Disc Four
Laurie Tuffrey , December 1st, 2014 17:57

Play the final disc of the Chicago band's new rarities compilation, Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014, released today

Today sees a double whammy of releases from Wilco: not only are they putting out What's Your 20?, a greatest hits-style compilation drawing on tracks from their 20-year lifetime, but this gets accompanied by Alpha Mike Foxtrot, a four-disc collection of rarities, live tracks, session cuts and other odds and sods. Now, courtesy of Nonesuch, who are putting out both albums, we've got a full stream of the final disc, rounding off a full Wilco day, with the other discs streaming now on - in order - The Line Of Best Fit, Clash and Uncut. It'll be live for the next 36 hours, so get your fill above.

Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014 works through the band's output chronologically, with disc four picking up material from 2004's A Ghost Is Born, including the excellent, sparse 'Panthers', originally only available on a bonus disc, through a host of tracks off a limited edition vinyl pressing of their 2005 live double album Kicking Television, further live cuts, drawing on songs from 2007's Sky Blue Sky, and a session recording of 'You And I', featuring Feist, for Philadelphia's WXPN radio station.

Photograph courtesy of Danny Clinch

As with all the discs on the 77-song box set, it offers an insight into both the band's studio sketches and the evolved permutations of songs they roll out on tour, as well as a fine clutch of pieces that remain live one-offs. Interspersed here are 'One True Vine', a song that didn't make the grade for Sky Blue Sky but instead became the title track for the second Mavis Staples Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy produced, 'The Thanks I Get', originally written for Solomon Burke and subsequently a live favourite, a particularly good 2008 rendering of Bob Dylan's 'I Shall Be Released', aided by Fleet Foxes (listen out for Tweedy's ace third verse falsetto turn) and 'Unlikely Japan', an early, vocoder-touting iteration of 'Impossible Germany'.

The box set's extensive liner notes include a track commentary from Tweedy and contributions from bassist John Stirratt, former Warner/Reprise publicist Bill Bentley, booking agent Frank Riley, David Bither, who signed the band to Nonesuch for the release of 2002's landmark Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Nels Cline, the guitarist who's been a pivotal part of the band's sound since joining in 2004, who rounds proceedings off by summing up his thoughts on the band's longevity. He writes: "When I joined Wilco, one of the first things Jeff told me was that for every record there is a big chunk of the audience that bails out because of some sort of dismay with the changes stylistically or personnel-wise and then there's a bunch of people who jump on. I'm sure that is absolutely true, but it definitely seems like there are more people jumping on than off at this point. For a band of older dudes, with no hit song, who aren't exactly hunky, it's pretty amazing. I'm proud that we can kind of keep going and be ourselves without too much bullshit, too much hype."

Get hold of the album here, and read our interview with Tweedy, discussing his Sukierae solo album (which features in the Quietus' end of year list), here and live report of his recent London stop here.

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