Each time I play A.M. I need to remind myself that this was Wilco’s debut release from 1995 and that it isn’t of the same, highly polished, style that is A Ghost Is Born and Schmilco; two of my favourite Wilco albums. That isn’t to say that A.M. is flawed, as it has some killer tunes and plenty of hidden gems that have stood the test of time, but it is an acknowledgement of their sonic shift on subsequent albums.
I Must Be High isn’t a bad way to open this alternative country-rock album. A solid song, with a solid rhythm. What more could one ask for?
Casino Queen has a killer blues-rock meets country rock feel that I swear would be a perfect song for The Rolling Stones to cover. Casino Queen is, without a doubt, one of my favourite songs on A.M. and is one of the best songs Wilco has ever recorded; I also consider it to be one of the very best rock tunes of the 20th Century.
Box Full Of Letters isn’t the greatest. The musicality is too alternative and too campy. Plus, the rhythm is all over the place, thereby making it difficult to sync in with a particular groove. I also find Jeff Tweedy’s vocal on this song to be lacklustre. The guitar solo is its only saviour.
Shouldn’t Be Ashamed has everything Box Full Of Letters didn’t. It’s a brilliant song that is thoroughly enjoyable and compels me to move my body subconsciously to the rhythm. Perhaps the only flaw in Shouldn’t Be Ashamed is there is a little too much distortion in the guitar tracking.
Pick Up The Change isn’t a bad toe-tapping song, but it isn’t anything to write home about either. A solid B-Side with some nice blues-based guitar work.
I Thought I Held You is a great tune that incorporates an interesting mix of the banjo with the steel guitar. It works incredibly well and gives the song a level of depth that ensures you become enveloped by the soundstage, especially during the final minute of the song.
That’s Not The Issue is another chaotic rhythmic mess. It is akin to noise, rather than music. A shame as it breaks up the flow of the album considerably.
It’s Just That Simple is a thoroughly enjoyable alternative country-rock tune and the creaminess of the instrumental interlude mid-song is absolutely marvellous.
Should’ve Been In Love is an enjoyable B-side. Nothing more, nothing less.
Passenger Side is fantastic, with a perfect mix between all sonic elements. I love it!
Dash 7 isn’t a bad B-side, but it is a little left of the centre. That may appeal to you, dear reader, or it may result in a confusing musical piece of art that will make you question if the song is good, bad, or merely adequate.
Blue Eyed Soul is a song I adore. The tempo and progression of the song are perfect. I must admit, I do like Wilco’s slower rhythms as they suit the band perfectly.
Too Far Apart is an excellent track to close the album on with a rhythm and blues-based influence that will appeal to anyone interested in this style of music. There is no doubt in my mind that Too Far Apart is the perfect song to encourage me to play the album again and stay within Wilco’s catalogue of music. While an expanded Deluxe Edition has also been released, I’ve never felt the urge to listen to it as I feel the original 13-track, 45 minute, release is perfect for enjoying A.M. and I must be honest when I say that if a song didn’t make it to the original album, then it likely wasn’t good enough in the first place. Of course, your opinion may differ and if so, please let us know in the comments what song from the Deluxe Edition makes it a compelling alternative.
Overall, A.M. is an excellent debut with some obvious flaws. The flaws, however, don’t detract from the album thereby ensuring that fans will appreciate this release along with newcomers who are after a somewhat raw country-rock sound with an alternative twist.