November 18, 1996 12:00 PM


When Jay Farrar hightailed it out of the country-rock cult band Uncle Tupelo in 1994, his dumped song-writing partner Jeff Tweedy joked that on his own he would try to “write at least half a good record.” Now the cheeky Tweedy and his new, five-member band, Wilco, have produced their sophomore album, a two-CD set that far exceeds his promise. Adding a few new, grungy notes to Uncle Tupelo’s countrified garage pop—call it country punk? or punktry?—Wilco also throws in plenty of classic-rock riffs. “Outta Mind (Outta Sight)” is the sort of song the Beach Boys quit writing after their creative wipeout a quarter-century ago. And “Forget the Flowers” sounds like the Rolling Stones in their late-’60s country honky-tonk mode. Several of the 19 tracks on Being There would not be out of place on Neil Young’s Harvest, Bob Dylan’s New Morning or a lost Gram Parsons album. Tweedy even jokes about all those historical references: “I keep on singin’/ Your eyes they just roll/ It sounds like someone else’s song from a long time ago.” Wilco’s music, by turns loose, high and lonesome, is punktry at its best. (Reprise)

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