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Wilco

A.M. – 1995 (Sire)

Reviewed by Don Yates

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CDs by Wilco

After the breakup of pioneering alternative-country band Uncle Tupelo, it looked like the end of the line for the band's large cult following, who found musical nirvana in Uncle Tupelo's blend of indie-rock guts and heartfelt country twang. The legacy continues, however, in Wilco and Son Volt, respectively led by former Tupelo principals Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar.

"A. M," showcases Tweedy's more pop-leaning sensibilities. The album begins with a couple of rootsy pop-rock gems ("I Must Be High" and "Box Full Of Letters"), with a bluesy romp that would've fit on the Stones' "Exile On Main Street" ("Casino Queen") sandwiched in between. Not until later (the melancholic "I Thought I Held You") does the band turn decidedly toward country. And while Tweedy's melodicism is still evident (particularly on songs like "Should've Been In Love"), most of the album's second half strongly reflects the band's country side, as instruments like the banjo, dobro, mandolin and pedal steel become more prominent.

Even though Uncle Tupelo is long gone, Wilco created an impressive disc reassuring the faithful of the continued vitality of the vision behind the band.