A sprawling double album encompassing everything from alt-country, folk, rock ‘n’ roll and psychedelia, Wilco’s Being There deserves a place on our list.
Jeff Tweedy and his bandmates really raised their game after the commercial and critical disappointment of their fine but ultimately rather formulaic 1995 debut A.M.
Opening with the downcast and reflective mood piece ‘Misunderstood’, the album changes direction dramatically at almost every turn. Stonesy rockers like ‘Monday’ and ‘Outtasite (Outta Mind)’ are followed by country-tinged acoustic ditties ‘Forget The Flowers’ and achingly beautiful piano laments like ‘Red Eyed And Blue’.
The hit-ratio is incredibly high and consistent, and other stand-outs include the blistering ‘Hotel Arizona’, melancholy ‘Sunken Treasure’ and majestic ‘The Lonely 1’.
Wilco would move away from the sound of Being There and into orchestral pop territory on 1999’s Summerteeth. An increasingly rewarding and varied career would follow, but Being There remains a high point in the band’s history, and a record that deserves to be played out on the road.
Try also: Wilco Summerteeth (Reprise, 1999). Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch, 2002).