Dorks like me play games like “What If…” all the time. What if Neil Young and Kurt Cobain had recorded together? What if John Lennon and Beck could get together? What if Wayne Coyne sang vocals for the Band? It’s usually a futile exercise in rock geekdom. But what if Paul McCartney joined Wilco? Well, we have a pretty close approximation with The Minus Five’s Down With Wilco, with Scott McCaughey playing McCartney to Wilco’s…well, Wilco.
The melodies of this album could be lifted right off your pick of any of Macca’s solo career. From the opening “Days of Wine and Booze” to the lilting “Daggers Drawn” this is a lesson in Macology. Growing up, I always though McCartney had written the Badfinger hit “Day After Day” and even swore I’d heard a version of the song sung by the former Beatle. I was wrong, but I am about to make the same claim on “Dear Employer.” Seriously, do we have footage of the recording of this beautiful song? I believe Scott McCaughey died in a car crash in 1967 and was replaced by Paul McCartney. It’s just a theory but I think I’m on to something.
Enough of that horseshit. Comparisons to McCartney are valid though and first listen will bear that out. But like Macca’s solo career, this album has a few missteps, including some dopey lyrics and psychedelic soundscapes that just sound old-fashioned. The playing is superb with Wilco’s John Stirratt (fast becoming my favorite bassist) providing melodic lines and a fat tone that the Cute One would kill for today.
Good album overall. It’s a must-have for Wilco fans with Tweedy taking lead vocals on “Family Gardner” and providing backing vocals on other tracks. Now, what if Jay Bennett played with Jay Farrar…