Wilco: Jeff Tweedy (vocals, guitar, bass, radio); Jay Bennett (vocals, guitar, lap steel guitar, harmonica, accordion, piano, organ, drums); Ken Coomer (vocals, guitar, drums, percussion); Max Johnston (vocals, banjo, dobro, mandolin, fiddle); John Stirratt (vocals, violin, piano, bass).
Additional personnel: Bob Egan (National steel guitar, pedal steel guitar); Greg Leisz (pedal steel guitar); Jesse Greene (violin); Dan Higgins (tenor & baritone saxophones); Larry Williams (tenor saxophone); Jerry Hey, Gary Grant (trumpet).
Engineers include: Chris Sheppard, Martin Stebbing, Jim Rondinelli.
Recorded at Chicago Recording Co. and Warzone Recorders, Chicago, Illinois; The Studio, Springfield, Missouri; Moonshine Studios, Atlanta, Georgia.
Wilco's second album is a sprawling collection of songs--19 of them on 2 CDs--about the rock and roll life and the price you pay to live it. A second album may seem a bit early to be getting into this sort of thing, but Wilco knows the life well; singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy and most of his bandmates had been on the road for years before with their underground country band Uncle Tupelo. Wilco rocks harder than Uncle Tupelo, and Tweedy's songs, which continue a theme previously explored by road warriors from Grand Funk Railroad to Paul Westerberg, offer a variety of characters and scenarios from that road.
From the struggling Floridian rocker who can't figure out why no one will come to hear his band (the Stones-inspired "Monday") to the lonely fan who lives through his idol's exploits (the gorgeous "The Lonely 1"), to that first taste of star treatment ("Hotel Arizona"), Tweedy captures these stories with grace and elegance. Despite all this introspection, Wilco hasn't forgotten how to rock. "Monday" truly burns, and "I Got You (At The End Of The Century)" has the guitar-driven, big rock sound of Wilco's debut. There's also plenty of the country-rock that put Uncle Tupelo on the map. The smooth lilt of "Far, Far Away" and "Someday Soon" offer quite a contrast to the thrashing, distortion-laden songs that precede them.
Rolling Stone (1/23/97, p.44) - Ranked #6 on Rolling Stone's list of the "Ten Best Albums" of 1996.
Rolling Stone (11/14/96, pp.111-112) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...Tweedy and his band break free from the confines of the narrow Tupelo legacy by exploring the nuances of noise and atmosphere....a product of ambitious versatility, particularly in the string-band textures conjured by...Max Johnston..."
Spin (11/96, pp.122-123) - 7 (out of 10) - "...trades unity in for riskier mood swings....For all his banjo-loving folksiness, he understands a simple secret: That rock'n'roll was invented to fly in the face of country's qualms...to offer a few hot little minutes of joy..."
Entertainment Weekly (10/25/96, p.116) - "...Leader Jeff Tweedy's new songs--a sprawling mix of moody late-night ballads, and infectious pop-rock tunes--confront adult insecurities forthrightly and tunefully and document the maturation of a good band into a potentially great one." - Rating: A
Q (1/98, p.115) - Included in Q Magazine's "50 Best Albums of 1997."
Alternative Press (3/01, p.104) - Included in A.P.'s "10 Essential Alt-Country Albums" - "An eclectic, genre-shifting double-CD....BEING THERE covers much of the 1970s FM dial, yet displays consistent prowess on all stations."
Magnet (p.114) - "BEING THERE is a straight-up celebration of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle."
Option (11-12/96, p.89) - "...Tweedy doesn't rehash country cliches; he gets inside and makes them real....awkward but self-assured, lingering with a supreme melancholy that's offset by humor and humility and hope....doesn't so much introduce a new Wilco sound as document the process of searching for one..."
Village Voice (2/25/97) - Ranked #14 in the Village Voice's 1996 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.