Saturday, September 5, 2015

Wilco - Here Comes Everybody

Wilco – Here Comes Everybody

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

1.  A Magazine Called Sunset
2.  Kamera
3.  Radio Cure
4.  Cars Can’t Escape
5.  The Good Part
6.  Shakin’ Sugar
7.  Laminated Cat
8.  Ashes of American Flags
9.  Heavy Metal Drummer
10.  I’m The Man Who Loves You
11.  Pot Kettle Black
12.  Poor Places
13.  Venus Stopped The Train
14.  Iamtryingtobreakyourheart

In honor of the surprise release of Wilco’s (pretty fantastic) new album Star Wars, here is a reconstruction of what could have been their fourth album--Here Comes Everybody.  Eventually restructured as their 2001 masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the album ended up very different than the early working tapes due to shifting band members, song arrangements and label affiliations.  Compiling alternate versions from two sets of demo discs as well as a number of studio outtakes, we are able to piece together a less-experimental album more in-line with the band’s previous album Summerteeth (ideally featuring more appearances of multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett and drummer Ken Coomer, who exited the band during this period).  Some unique edits were made to make new, complete takes;  the tracks were also either crossfaded or banded closely; and all songs are volume-adjusted to create a cohesive listening experience.  

At the end of the 20th Century, Wilco had become critical darling in search of the ever-elusive hit single and the battle between The Artist and The Industry had already bubbled over several times.  Lead singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy desired Wilco’s second album--1996’s Being There--to be a double album, an idea vetoed by their label Reprise Records; a compromise was reached, in which Tweedy allowed a significant cut of his royalties from the album which offset the label’s loss, in order for it to be released as a double.  The sprawling album that straddled alt-country and experimental-rock gained enough critical success to warrant artistic freedom for their follow-up, 1999’s Summerteeth.  Although once again garnishing much critical acclaim for the album’s lush Pet Sounds-esque layers as well as Tweedy’s songwriting prowess, Reprise Records didn’t hear a hit single and demanded to create a radio-friendly mix of “I Can’t Stand It”.  Wilco acquiesced, knowing how much freedom they had been already allowed in an era of the emergence of media oligopolies and a long list of bands dropped from the label's roster.  The song failed to be a hit, and Wilco approached the danger zone. 

Regrouping at the band’s own rehearsal space in late 2000 to record the follow-up entirely themselves, Wilco’s fourth album at this point had the working title of Here Comes Everybody, a reference to James Joyce’s masterpiece Finnegan’s Wake.  The ever-changing metaphysics of Joyce’s H.C.E. character was appropriate, as the nature of the recording sessions changed as well, moving into early 2001.  While initially the songs were a second wind of Summerteeth—solid songwriting played by a solid rock band with layers upon layers of experimental sounds by multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett—Tweedy wished to push the boundaries of the band itself.  After spending the year with side project Loose Fur (consisting of Tweedy, experimental producer Jim O’Rourke and drummer Glen Kotche),  the more daring and sonically progressive sound of the trio greatly informed how Here Comes Everybody would progress as well.  The first step was replacing Wilco drummer Ken Coomer with Kotche himself.  A less busy drummer who focused on unusual and homemade percussion instruments, Kotche was able to rhythmically reinterpret Tweedy’s new songs (many already recorded) into a more exotic backbone to perpetuate the atmosphere of the songs, in contrast to Coomer’s more traditional rock drumming. 

The second step in the evolution of Here Comes Everybody into what we now know as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was the song selection and mixing process.  Dropping obvious career throwbacks (the Summerteeth-esque “A Magazine Called Sunset” or the Being There-esque “Never Let You Down") and focusing on the songs that specifically dealt with the curious dissatisfaction and personal alienation in an increasingly modern and technological world  ensured a fresh direction for the band.  Jim O’Rourke was brought in to mix the album and much to the displeasure of the rest of Wilco, the songs were drastically stripped to their emotional core, often leaving merely Kotche’s exotic percussion and Bennett’s dizzying sonics.  Gone was the traditional sound of a rock band and all that remained was the strength of the songs themselves, floating in a sea of opiate-inspired fuzzy guitars, twinkling pianos, anonymous voices and static.   

Not only did the album transform, but the band itself.  The behind-the-scenes battle over creative control of the band between Bennett and Tweedy had concluded with Bennett being dismissed from Wilco, an event depicted in the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.  Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was also the breaking point of the fragile relationship between Wilco and Reprise Records.  After the band refused to bend to label exec’s requests to “make some changes” upon hearing the album, Reprise refused to release it and instead offered Wilco to buy-out their contract (which included the rights to the album) for $50,000.  Accepting their offer, Wilco not only bought the rights back to the album their label refused to release, but they leaked it themselves--streaming it on their website for free--and went public with Reprise’s tactics.  The situation—as well as the strength of the fantastic album itself—earned a Wilco a new record deal with the indie label Nonesuch Records, this time with complete artistic freedom.  Who owned Nonesuch Records?  AOL/Time Warner , the same oligopoly who owned Reprise Records!  Wilco self-produced an album of music they wanted and essentially sold it back to the company who refused to release it in the firstplace. 

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was the musical turning point in the postmodern era that embodied all the issues that artists presently face: digital media as distribution, the effect of media oligopolies and the transfer of power to the underdog indie artists from the dinosaur cash-cows.   But in its original incarnation as Here Comes Everybody, history could have been very different for Wilco’s fourth album.  Using two different bootlegs of the rough and early mixes of the album (known as the YHF Demos and the YHF Engineer’s Demos) as well as some of the outtakes which didn’t conceptually fit, we are able to make a very different album, one that more logically follows Summerteeth and did not create such a radical artistic shift.  We will try to use as many Coomer-drummed tracks as possible as if he hadn’t been ousted from the band (as much as we ascertain, without knowing the specific credit of every recording).  Just as well, we’ll include two Bennett-penned tracks that were left on the cutting room floor, as if he too hadn’t been ousted from the band.     

We can begin this reconstruction of Here Comes Everybody with the most radio-friendly song, “A Magazine Called Sunset”, taken from the More Like The Moon EP.  Although an early mix most likely featuring Coomer on drums is found on the YHF Demos bootleg, we will use the more polished, finished track featuring Kotche on drums.  This is followed with the more rock-anthem-arranged “Kamera” from the YHF Demos.  Next, an early and very different, nearly tropicalia version of “Radio Cure“ that was originally titled “Corduroy Cutoff Girl”.   Taken from the YHF Demos, the redundant verses are edited out for a more logical and concise song framework.  Next is the fantastic piano ballad “Cars Can’t Escape”, taken from the Alpha Mike Foxtrot boxset and followed by the very Summerteeth-esque “The Good Part”, using the unreleased version from the YHF Demos that seem to feature Coomer on drums.  “Shakin Sugar” from the YHF Demos follows, a deeper album cut for sure but a Jay Bennett original that would later be recorded for his only solo album post-Wilco.  “Laminated Cat” concludes the first half of the album, a song later reimagined and recorded by Loose Fur.  Here is a straightforward Springsteen-esque version from the YHF Demos originally titled "Not For The Season."   

The second half of Here Comes Everybody follows more closely the sequence of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, except all sourced from early mixes found on the YHF Demos; these versions of “Ashes of American Flags”, “Heavy Metal Drummer”, “I’m The Man Who Loves You” and “Pot Kettle Black” all demonstrate how much of an impact Jim O’Rourke was on the sound of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by deconstructing the arrangements at crucial points in the songs.  Next is a personal highlight for this album, the early version of “Poor Places” from the YHF Demos propelled by a barroom piano, featuring a full band and a slightly different structure.  Following is an edit of two rough mixes to create a complete take of “Venus Stopped The Train”, a song composed by Jay Bennett around a Jeff Tweedy poem, also re-recorded by Bennett for his solo album post-Wilco.  The album closes with the early version of “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” from the YHF Demos (which I have stylized as “Iamtryingtobreakyourheart”) which seems to feature Coomer on drums.  Instead of being an exciting opening track on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that sets the mood for modern disillusionment, it becomes a confusing experimental afterthought to an already stylistically varied album. 

Is Here Comes Everybody an improvement over Yankee Hotel Foxtrot?  I don’t believe it is; pushing Wilco to new musical boundaries is a must for the band, and the album would not have had its historical impact had it not been cutting edge and unified vision.  Here Comes Everybody would certainly have been Wilco's White Album!  But this reconstruction at least shows how much Wilco did push their music at the time, how they got from point A to point B.  At the very least, Here Comes Everybody offers a more traditional option for those who like their Wilco without all the bells, whistles and... static.  

Sources used:
Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014 (1994 CD boxset Nonesuch)
More Like The Moon EP (2003 CD Nonesuch)
War On War (2002 CD Nonesuch)
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos (bootleg, 2002)
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Engineer Demos (bootleg, 2002)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR and Goldwave--> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included


  1. Thanks for this, I've never been the biggest Wilco fan but put together like this it's rekindled my interest in their material. Great stuff

  2. Thanks for writing, great examination of Wilco's history. Some Wilco fans see the Jay Bennett era as the band's creative high point and at times I'm inclined to agree. I love the White Album comparison. I was 22 when YHF came out and the album gave me the same vibe I got from a Beatles record!

  3. Nice! I actually put my own version of Here Comes Everybody together years ago from the demos, but I don't have the skills with editing tools that you do. Really looking forward to listening to this!

  4. BTW, a slight correction to your editorial: Jay Bennett actually did a number of solo albums post-Wilco. They aren't very good, mostly suffering from weak vocals and overproduction, but his songwriting and instrumental skills were obvious. Just as obvious, though, is the fact that he needed Tweedy to balance him; the songs Jay re-recorded for The Palace at 4 am both sounded much better on the YHF Demos.

    In the version I put together (which is not as good as yours), I included still-unreleased songs from the demos like "Nothing Up My Sleeve" and "Won't Let You Down" in place of songs that already made it onto YHF, in an attempt to come up with an album that would have been done in between Summerteeth and YHF. Yours, obviously, is what would have happened *instead of* YHF in an alternate universe. And it's a great listen!

  5. You've done it again !!!!
    Gotta tell ya; when I see that you've put together a new project, It's like Christmas Day !
    I truly appreciate all the hard work you put into each release.

  6. Wow, you continue to outdo yourself. This is another one I thought about doing forever, but never quite pulled off.

  7. I actually dreamt a few years ago that this records was released. However, it had a Pelican, trying to lift off into the air while swimming during a sunset on the cover.

    Anyways: two records I'd like you to try your hands on are these -

    David Bowie - Contamination
    The often announced follow up to 1.OUTSIDE, apparently from the same sessions. Since the full 3-suite LEON was finally released earlier this year by fans, a comp of this and Hours tracks and B-Sides (which are rumored to be re-workings of those session tracks) and probably some Omikron tracks would work out.

    Smashing Pumpkins - pre GISH/80s-era LP.
    The Pumpkins did some studio work pre Gish-recordings that never saw a proper release outside of Bootleggers and their most recent special edition. That stuff was recorded in 88 and 89, and arguably functions better as a "debut" (also, Bleed is one hell of a song).

  8. So Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is considered by critics to be the #72 greatest album of all time per Would HCE have been *more* highly acclaimed?

    1. No, I don't think it would have been as highly acclaimed. Remember, HCE was only the working title for what would eventually become YHF, and it was a work in progress. The songs that were left off of YHF were considered more in the vein of Summerteeth, and it was the sonic experimentation that made YHF such a landmark...and forever changed Wilco from a rootsy alt-country band into the American Radiohead.

      I like to listen to the YHF demos that never made it any farther as sort of a bridge album (slightly longer than an EP, actually) between Summerteeth and YHF...but while there are some good songs there, it's not as great as YHF. And while this collection is a nice listen and very well constructed, it's not really a lost album; it's a work in progress.

  9. Would you consider putting together a version of George Harrisons 1970 Rehersals/the All Things Must Pass Demos, it would be cool to see what you did with it. All the unofficial versions seem to be vocals on one channel guitar on the other but the demo of beware of darkness on the 30th anniversary release of ATMP is more standard stereo not sure if you can do anything about that or if mono would be better

  10. PS thanks for all the great work you do

  11. Awesome! I've been looking for this mix of "Shakin Sugar" (I always thought it was called "Alone Alone Alone") forever. I also am aware of a YHF outtake called "Nothing Up My Sleeve."
    Do you think Dennis Wilson's "Bambu" is possible to do?

  12. Thank you again, your work is spectacular! One slight correction:
    "Sources used:
    Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014 (1994 CD boxset Nonesuch)"
    should be "2015 CD boxed set" (and what a great collection of 4 discs it is!)

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  14. Van Morrison recorded about 30 tracks during the sessions between his stint with Them and his solo debut. He had planned on releasing 8 of the tracks as 4 singles. Bang records took 8 of those tracks and released them without the knowledge of the artist and titled it "Blowin Yr Mind." This infuriated Van and he, and 'til this day, does not regard it as his debut album. These sessions came to be released in various compilations, namely "New York Sessions '67" and "Bang Masters." I would like to see a 1967 Van Morrison album that he would've called his album. I have compiled a long list, that I find impossible to dwindle down, of his tracks and the result is brilliant and worthy of his discography. Here's a sample:

    1967 - T.B. Sheets

    1. Madame George (early, upbeat, full-band version) (this is a must-hear)
    2. Who Drove The Red Sports Car
    3. T.B. Sheets
    4. Send Your Mind
    5. Beside You (early, upbeat, full-band version)
    6. Brown Eyed Girl (unedited version)
    7. The Smile You Smile
    8. He Ain't Give You None
    9. It's All Right
    10. Joe Harper Saturday Morning
    11. The Back Room

    1. Would it be possible to make a zip file of this and post it? I'd like to hear this one.

    2. I would also!!! Love Van the Man!

    3. Alright, I figured it out. Enjoy.

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  17. It seems that most of this Album that Never Was is taken from the "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos." They sound great. And, I have a copy of those Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos that I obtained from a torrent from e-tree.
    I think there was some question as to whether the original source for those was a disc of mp3s which were made into "fake flac" files.
    Do you know if the original source for those was a disc of mp3s?
    Do you have a different source for those?

    1. While it is true the YHF Demos leaked as mp3s, here I used a *lossless* rip of the bootleg as a source, as well as a completely different bootleg called "The YHF Engineer Demos" (which features some alternate mixes as heard on the commonly heard YHF Demos). Nothing is mp3-sourced here.

      Also, there are unique edits of Radio Cure, Laminated Cat and Venus that I created for this reconstruction.

    2. "Nothing is MP3-sourced" except for all the tracks that are noticeably MP3-sourced, namely A Magazine Called Sunset, Radio Cure, Shakin' Sugar, and the first half of Venus, which all show pretty heavy lossy degradation in a spectrograph. Honestly surprised you didn't catch it, your work's immaculate otherwise.

  18. I suggest/request the double-album version of Sufjan Stevens' Illinois. Could I just listen to "Illinois" and "The Avalanche" back to back? Sure, but you know the tracks are in the wrong order...

  19. For all German readers, I wrote a litte post about this album on my blog, give it a try if you like Wilco and similiar stuff:

  20. This may not be a popular one, but The Kinks - Preservation Act as a single LP:

    1.Preservation (single version)
    2. Daylight
    3. Sweet Lady Genevieve
    4. There's A Change In The Weather
    5. Where Are They Now?
    6. Sitting In The Midday Sun
    7. When A Solution Comes
    8. Shepards of the Nation
    9. Second-Hand Car Spiv
    10. Mirror of Love
    11. Artificial Man
    12. Salvation Road

    I basically just took my favorite tracks (aka the only tracks I enjoyed) from both Acts I & II and it, coincidentally, ended up being six tracks from each. And it actually turns into a rather listenable album.

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  22. Hello, here is one of those 'suggestions' that often make people go "Oh no"

    Basically, how about the "Elvis and Paul" album consisting of the Costello/McCartney songs they wrote together? "My brave face", "Veronica", "You want her too" and so on? An interview ccontained in the deluxe edition of "Spike" has it that they wrote about a dozen songs together, were they all issued?

    Anyway, looking forward to the next ATNW, whatever it might be

  23. Here’s an album I put together using songs not on other the Monkees’ albums. I figured it would have been released in September of 1968, as it would give the group something to promote on their Far East tour (September/October 1968). The group (or Columbia-Screen Gems) knew when the soundtrack would be ready, they had problems printing the cover, so any product use to promote the group would have been beneficial. Also, soundtracks are considered different from other albums. They have their own number system and just feature only material from the film.
    However, I don’t think an album like this could have come out for several reasons:
    1. Lester Sill’s hatred of “Lady’s Baby.” Not that it’s a bad song, but he was upset about the time and cost used to make it.

    2. Too many group originals. I don’t think Colgems would release something without a strong “stable” writer (one from Columbia-Screen Gems).

    For what it’s worth, here it is:

    Side A
    1. Rosemarie (Instant Replay bonus track)
    2. It’s Nice To Be With You
    3. Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun To Care)
    4. Shake ‘Em Up And Let ‘Em Roll (Missing Links 3 vocal)
    5. Look Down
    6. Lady’s Baby

    Side B
    1. Smile
    2. Carlisle Wheeling (Instant Replay bonus track)
    3. Tear The Top Right Off My Head (or Come On In)
    4. I’m Gonna Try
    5. Alvin
    6. D.W. Washburn
    7. St. Matthew

    I figured “Come On In” could replace “Tear The Top..” since I think it master tape is in Rhino’s possession. I also tried to include “Nine Times Blue” but it didn’t seem to flow as well.
    Couldn’t come up with a good title – that was almost always a PTB (powers that be) decision. Any suggestions?

    1. Oh you are very close! I say this because this is actually a reconstruction I already have completed, that I will upload soon, possibly before the year's end!

  24. What would you change? I tried to follow Colgems's rules (i.e the single as the second to last track on Side 2). Also, I tried to use songs not on other albums. it was difficult because when was only in the studio a few times and what he recorded was usually released. Also, would Nesmith have just three songs? Maybe but where could I put it without ruining the flow?

    1. The Colgems rules went out the window; it was supposed to be a double-album called The Monkees Present, in which each Monkee got his own side of the LP. That is the reason they were each so involved in the production--and writing--of their own tracks.

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  26. I wonder when it would have come out. The released version was released in October 1969, with Head out in December 1968, but probably should have been out October/November. I think by that time the Powers That Be had already decided that the next album was going to be more "commercial" with the use of older songs. Since it came out in February 1969, it had to be the planning stages while "Head" was being promoted and the soundtrack being released.

    As for the double album, I know that that was talked about and mentioned on the "Hy Lit" interview (November 1968), but the truth of the matter is, besides Mike's Nashville sessions of May/June 1968, some Davy and Micky sessions that summer/fall (and a a few Mike sessions to finish "Listen To The Band" rerecord "My Share of the Sidewalk" and lay down a vocal for "If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again", and some touch up work on "Head" ( recording Ditty-Diego, As We Go Along, replacing Mike's vocal for Davy's on "Daddy's Song"), they did not spend much time in the studio between March 1968 to May 1969 when work on the released "Present" began. Peter stopped recording as far back as February 1968. There were a handful of sessions, plus the "33 1/3" soundtrack (mostly supervised by Bones Howe with Mike producing a couple of sessions), but reading Sandoval's book, it seems the time in the studio was use to mix existing material.

    Plus Peter (and possibly Micky) did not have enough material to complete one side. So if it were to be done, work had to continue through the Summer of 1968.

    1. How I see it, is that they were each producing tracks for their fourth of Monkees Present throughout 1968, in between working on HEAD and then 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee; the songs that didn't get earmarked for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees in April and then HEAD in August were all set aside for consideration for this theoretical double album they were working on, probably for an early 1969 release. Apparently, Michael's Nashville session in May 1968 was specifically for his side of this project, so it was in the works while HEAD was getting wrapped. At the end of the year, Davey and Michael had more than enough material for their sides; Mikey and Pete just barely. But obviously the album was scrapped when Peter quit (who barely had his side done anyways) and Instant Replay was released instead, salvaging the material but adding the cash cow 1966 outtakes. Then the title itself "The Monkees Present" (but not the concept) was recycled in 1969, which also featured three of those songs recorded for it the previous year.

      So in summery, I am referring to the orignal concept--collecting the remaining 1968 tracks as a 2LP, organized by Monkee--rather than the actual Monkees Present from 1969, if that makes sense.

    2. You are right about the Nashville sessions. I am guessing it was more of an idea than actuality. Kind of like a "Lifehouse " or even a "Landlocked."

      Definitely, with the Monkees you had with some many hands in the pie (Columbia, Screen Gems (TV and Publishing), RCA, Colgems, and later Bell/Arista and Rhino) that they were often at cross purposes.

      For example, one said they were just a bunch of actors playing a band. But they were taken to the Beatles L.A. concert to "prepare" them for live performances. So if they weren't to be a real band, why prepare them for concerts?

  27. Also Colgems's hiring of Bones Howe to be the official Monkees producer would signal a change in the way Monkees' music was made.

  28. I always knew the early version of "Shakin' Sugar" by the title "Alone." Jay changed the title when he and I included the song on The Palace at 4am (Part I).

    Our version is the YHF demo with Jeff's vocal removed and additional overdubs added.

    I second the correction that Jay had several solo efforts post-Wilco. Technically his true "solo" albums begin after The Palace at 4am (as Palace was a collaboration we worked on from just before Jay joined Wilco).

    Edward Burch

    1. Nice to see you posting, Edward! I saw you and Jay perform together at the Hideout a number of times. I love the Palace album, Puzzle Heart is a classic that, as far as I'm concerned, is as great or better than anything Wilco released with or without Jay. Jay's solo records are all solid. He is missed...

  29. The mp3 link seems to be down :(

  30. Can you repost? The link is down - thanks!

  31. For a tiny bit of pedantic clarification, Jay Bennett was kicked out of the band after YHF was completed.

  32. If at all possible, a re-upload of the MP3 would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  33. hi, just to echo the previous comment, the mp3 link is down, we would all really appreciate a re-upload of that! thank you!

  34. empty3

    listless flack

  35. So much interesting text in this post but without a working link to download the music, all the words are for nothing.

  36. S5dGmThS#2nb79K72lSsnpHfgo9q7NHwEvN08bpDopTA_LYTH15E