Sue C. from RIDGEWOOD, NJ Reviewed on 8/23/2006...
2 disk set
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(4.5 Stars) A little bit country..but mostly rock n' roll
B | Rochester, NY United States | 08/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Six years before the much lauded masterpiece "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Wilco released "Being There", an ambitious double album that utilized many of the foundations of rock & roll, yet made them sound fresh. Also, if you heard "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and scratched your head at the whole "alt. country" label they're saddled with, it may make more sense after listening to this.
First off, I should say that "Being There" could've fit onto one disc. But once you hear it, you'll see why they put it onto two. For instance, "Misunderstood" and "Sunken Treasure" open Disc 1 and 2, respectively. Each one clocks in at nearly 7 minutes, and utilize similar structures; slow building epics that climax in blasts of psychadelic/avant-garde guitar noise. They both function as centerpieces, and simply work a lot better, aesthetically, as opening songs.
"Monday" is a hard rockin' Rolling Stones pastiche if you'll ever hear one. Deliciously catchy and fun, it'll be stuck in your head for days. "Outtasite (Outta Mind)" and "I Got You" are both carefree, infectious power-pop at its best. The former also appears on Disc 2 as "Outta Mind (Outtasite)" with a toned down, Beach Boys-like arrangement (check out the great vocal harmonies in the background).
"Hotel Arizona" is a personal favorite of mine that blends swirling, atmospheric textures with traditional folk, pop, and rock elements.
Whereas most of the songs have a very subtle country sound, "Far Far Away" and "Forget The Flowers" are pure county-western, twangy guitar and all.
Best of all is the melancholy/bittersweet "The Lonely 1", a reflective ballad (about the whole rock & roll lifestyle) that combines gentle accoustic guitars, piano, and strings.
The album ends with "Dreamer In My Dreams", a freewheeling, bluesey rocker that's also highly reminiscent of the Rolling Stones.
Other standouts include the soulful "What's the World Got In Store", the rootsy-ballad "Say You Miss Me", the gentle folk of "Someone Else's Song", the blues-rock of "Kingpin", and "Why Would You Wanna Live", which has a old timey, music hall feel.
I've given the album 4.5 Stars, because although it is excellent, Wilco would get even better with subsequent releases (such as the aforementioned "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", the lush pop of "Summerteeth", and their newest release, the stark & haunting "A Ghost is Born"). So basically, "Being There" is the first of a bunch of essential releases from Wilco. Don't miss out on this great band.
Best Songs: The Lonely 1, Hotel Arizona, Sunken Treasure, Someone Else's Song, Misunderstood, What's The World Got In Store, Outta Mind (Outta Site). "
'Being There' better than anything it references
Steven R. Seim | 05/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wilco is probably capable of making a great album of just about any genre imaginable, but on Being There they went with a genre that is impossible to describe. Often said to 'borrow' from various great records of the late 60s and early 70s, Wilco really does sound more different than you'd get the impression they do. No song is made up simply of one influence, and influence never goes ahead of pure songwriting genius.The opening track on Being There, 'Misunderstood,' as with many other tracks on the double CD, has been compared countless times to other songs and records. However, with every reviewer thinking it sounds like one thing, it's hard to imagine Wilco ever really just went out and made any songs based on just one person's music. 'Misunderstood' is an amazing way to start off an album, but it shines not just because of the noticeable influences, but mainly because of Jeff Tweedy's lyrics and voice along plus the incredible talent of the rest of the band. If you think 'Hey that sounds like The Beatles,' or 'Hey that sounds like John Lennon' before you think 'Wow, that was an incredible song,' then there is something seriously wrong with you.After the booming finish of the heartfelt story of a musician returning home in 'Misunderstood,' the records moves on to the somewhat more upbeat, although more mellow 'Far, Far Away,' and then on to '70s rockers' 'Monday' and 'Outta Sight (Outta Mind). While when you think about it lyrics in the latter song are not exactly happy ('Well okay, I know you don't love me but you'll still be thinking of me,') the song still seems very upbeat and certainly isn't trying to depress you.This rock mood is soon killed by the AM-esque 'Forget the Flowers,' where Tweedy doesn't go back to his alt-country roots, but more so to older straightforward country. The essence of this song would fit on any of Wilco's albums, it obviously would have been slightly altered had it been on Wilco's only album better than Being There(to date), Summerteeth. An excellent song either way. One more sad song follows, 'Red Eyed and Blue,' which goes with a slightly less country approach than 'Forget the Flowers,' and comes out well.From here Wilco balances the last too more depressing song with 'I got you (at the end of the century).' This and the next song 'What's the World Got in Store' have you realizing that this is definitely becoming a great first side. Then the next song, 'Hotel Arizona' completely confirms this, sounding like something Neil Young would have on a greatest hits record. The first side finishes off with 'Say You Miss Me,' another great love song, with Jeff Tweedy's own style.The second disk opens with two songs that are similar in some ways to the first two songs on the first disk. 'Sunken Treasure' is another great drawn out piano/guitar song that let's you look at Tweedy so closely you can't help but love it. 'I got my name from rock n' roll' he sings, and you know his lyrics are a window straight into him. Similar to 'Far, Far Away,' the next song 'Someday Soon' brings a dreaming less intense song to the table, followed by an acoustic version of 'Outta Sight (Outta Mind),' which in this case goes by the name 'Outta Mind (Outta Sight).' While not as good as the original in terms of it's upbeat rock sound, it still comes off very well. Then Jeff Tweedy goes into another song about other people's music with 'Someone Else's Song,' a song portraying the frustrated feeling of try to impress someone but just sounding no different than anything before you, which ironically does not describe Wilco, with Being There no longer sounding much like anything from Uncle Tupelo. Kingpin is a much less serious song, that seems to just be Tweedy having some fun ('I wanna be your kingpin, livin' in, Pekin'.) From there 'Was I in Your Dreams' goes into classic Wilco, sounding happy with dark lyrics, followed by another song of this style, 'Why Would You Wanna Live,' which is so much happier sounding than the lyrics would suggest. In this type of Wilco song will either feel upbeat to you or feel really depressed depending on your mood and whether you focus on lyrics or music. 'The Lonely One' does not hide behind any happy music; it is in the same fashion as 'Forget the Flowers' a straight for sad song, even if it is somewhat less country. The last song on the record is one of the best record finishers in a while, 'Dreamer in My Dreams.' Even if you've leaned towards the slower, sadder song on the record, this song will still be one of your favourites. It's an excited big loud song that doesn't feel like 'hard rock,' but more like a great live performance in a small place. By the time this song is over and has had it's various false endings, you can't help but be taken away by this record. Most detractors are usually looking for country or alt-country and really don't find too much of it, but if you're looking for a great record, even if all your favourite records are alt-country, this is still one of the greatest albums released during the 90s. It may even be one of the best to come before the 'end of the century.'"
Steven R. Seim | Beaver Dam, WI United States | 07/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Being There" is often called Wilco's masterpiece, but in many ways it is merely a precursor of things to come. Not yet in full Brian Wilson mode, and still working within its country roots, "Being There" is a highly enjoyable blend of American styles. The album features some of their most convincing hard rock, not to mention the achingly beautiful "Far Far Away."My only complaint (and the reason "Being There" doesn't merit 5 stars) is that some of the material should have been left out. The first disc is strong from start to finish - a virtual masterpiece. However, around the middle of the second disc, the music becomes rather tedious - the rockers grating, the ballads uninteresting. With some careful editing, "Being There" could have easily been a single-disc masterpiece."
Nathaniel D Grotte | Wisconsin | 12/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wilco is a terrific band, and I wholeheartedly enjoy all of their releases...but "Being There" is their finest endeavor, and their one album that will best stand the test of time. There are times when Wilco seems more like "Jeff Tweedy feat. Wilco," and "AM" and "Being There" offer the most input from Bennett et al., which really results in a much more diverse-yet-cohesive sound than on, say, "Summerteeth," which is sonically beautiful, but the lyrics often seem mismatched with the music. That said, Tweedy is the principal songwriter here, and this album catches at a point where he's more articulate than on some UT releases and "AM," but he's obviously still a little self-conscious, and are less explicitly personal than what "Summerteeth" would later produce. Most of the Uncle Tupelo-related angst is released in the first track: "Take the guitar player for a ride/cuz he ain't never been satisfied/he thinks he owes some kinda debt/be years before he gets over it...I'd like to thank you all for nothing, I'd like to thank you all for nothing at all." "Being There" is about a lot of things, I'm sure, but most obviously and most powerfully, it's an detailed trip through a very vulnerable folksinger's relationship psyche. The album gets lonely, joyful, melancholy and wistful all on the first disc and reexamines them all again on the second. It's a perfect documentation of a relationship, never overstated and very subtle. After this album, it may be a little hard to go back and listen to your Cure cds; all the emotion that you hear in Robbie Smith's tortured voice and lush instrumentation is there in Tweedy's hushed sighs and delicate guitar licks. Instrumentally, the album is also quite diverse. Tweedy is often wailing on Telecasters and Bennett is usually behind the Hammond organ, but equally as often Tweedy's relatively alone on acoustic, or the whole band's together in a swelling Spector-esqe song, like "Monday," which even includes trumpets. Somehow, it all pulls together perfectly, and is produced so warmly that it's impossible not to be pulled in. You will be hardpressed to find a review that criticizes the use of two discs: the end of disc 1 leaves you starving for more, and disc 2 only barely satiates. This album highlights Wilco's immense talents, and stands out as one of the greatest musical achievements of the 1990s. The album is truly timeless, and I would recommend adding "Mermaid Ave Vol 1" to your order; because Wilco is addicting."
Brilliant- an amazing effort
Goods | Oak Park, IL United States | 01/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is just stupendous. Its awe inspiring almost. The 2nd CD by this amazing Chicago-based band leaves a fresh taste in your mouth. The CD manages to avoid the problem that many artists have of having all the songs sound the same. "Being There" has many different sounds to their songs, from the sweet country feel of "far, far away" to the almost Weezer-ish sound of "outta mind(outta site)"- all of which are driven by their impressive lyrics. If you like any of Wilco's other work, or if you appreciate good lyrics or slow mesmorizing melodies, you must buy this CD."