1. Summerteeth (catchy lyrics) 2. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (see the documentary "I'm trying to break your heart" it helps make sense of YHF importance to the music scene) 3. A Ghost Is Born (the present lineups first album together) 4. Wilco (mature band letting loose) 5. AM
They are all good and I'd be hard pressed to pick one, but seeing that you started with sky blue sky try in the above order.
I very much like "Kicking Television: Live in Chicago".
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot remains their masterpiece in my book. And yes the documentary about its making is fabulous.
This is one of my favorite bands too.
My favorites, in order:
1. Being There. (This is where Wilco truly came into their own, IMHO.) Not their very best, (albeit my favorite, as this was my introduction to their work), but very, very good.
2. A Ghost is born, (their very best effort, IMHO).
3. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
All of the above albums would be given an "A" grade in my book. Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album), would get a "B", (only because they seem to have kept with the same tried and true formula and seemed to have slowed their evolution as a band), but still good albums. AM would be a "C" in my book, as it was Jeff Tweedy's tranformation from Uncle Tupelo to Wilco, (and I prefer Wilco).
PS Kicking Television is a great Live Album.
PPS All of these are available on vinyl, and Wilco does a good job of recording and their pressings are very good. (Even Kicking Television is a very nice LP set).
My two cents worth anyway.
If you can find it, check out there set on Austin City Limits.
They're all good, IMHO, but +1 on Summerteeth if you're exploring - they really found their groove on that one, before that they still tinkered with some country/rock vibes (which I love them doing, but some may find un-Wilco'ish nowadays). I also love A Ghost Is Born, but that might be a bit of an acquired taste - go for YHF before that.
There are also some side projects, like Mermaid Avenue 1 and 2 (with Billy Bragg), Loose Fur, etc.
Have yet to purchase a Wilco album I don't like. "A Ghost Is Born" is my favorite.
See them live if you can.
Summerteeth & YHF are my favorites.
Happy to see A Ghost is Born getting so much love. I like them all, but starting from Sky Blue Sky, I'd go to Wilco (the latest) and then work backwards. Everything after AM takes some time, but they're all well worth it.
A Ghost is Born is at the top of my list, too. It's not actually the current lineup: no Nels Cline. I loved Jay Bennett (RIP). He was a fantastic guitar player (anyone ever hear, or better yet see, Titanic Love Affair?), and he got jobbed in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (OK, he didn't get along with Jeff Tweedy, that's fine; but to watch the other band members pile on is pathetic). But Tweedy's guitar work on A Ghost is Born is amazing--reminds me of post-Velvets Lou Reed.
I'm gonna disagree and say that A Ghost Is Born is probably the worst record Wilco ever made. Way too much "navel-gazing" on that one.
How could they possibly put out a song such as "Less Than You Think"? It can truly change your mood for the worse!
I will admit that the songs from AGIB did sound better onstage, such as "Spiders".
Fair enough. But songs like "Less Than You Think" (or the last ten minutes of it anyway) are what skip buttons were made for!
"Being There" always struck me as Wilco's "purest" record - simple but terrific. Tweedy's aspirations to do MORE! than straight pop/rock always yielded mixed results for this band, IMHO. True, the music's highest points may have gotten higher, but those low points.....
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is easily my favorite late period Wilco, followed by Sky Blue Sky, with Ghost and Summerteeth being just too much for me to swallow.
Just providing another data point for you - from someone who admittedly prioritizes the straight pop elements in this kind of music.
Incidentally, I'll second the Jay Bennett cheerleading movement. A wonderful talent who had a tough life. I much prefer his record, "The Palace at 4AM", recorded with Edward Burch (sic?) to any of the Wilco records. Ironically, I found that Bennet's other recordings suffered somewhat from "Late Period Tweedy Syndrome" (as described above), with aspirations overpowering his greatest musical strengths.
The best wilco album's are UNCLE TUPELO albums - duh...
I left my "small" review of the VINYL box of "Kicking Television" A while back, no responses. Great "set", not definative by any means, however, awesome set!!!
Four years later... "The Album" hasn't been mentioned. It may be their best so far.
Waiting for "Tweedy" to come in. I think this one is going to be great!
The Alpha Mike Foxtrot box is great and apparently supplies are running out. That may up this one on the priority list a bit. If you know you like Wilco it's a safe bet you'll like this box. Several suppliers are already out and it appears when they're gone they're gone.