Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
Hindsight is effortless.
Some publisher decisions seem ludicrous with the rear-view mirror advantage. Harry Potter? Rejected a dozen times!
Record labels & their executives have racked up some equally nonsensical rejections/objections over the years.
I talked about two of my favourite label gaffes (Sloan & Marvin Gaye) in my first review of the 1001 project, the exemplary What’s Going On.
Add a third to the list: the saga of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (YHF).
They say a standard hit song has the foreseeable format of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wants girl back.
Classic albums often follow another 3-step predictable pattern: Band records great album, Label doesn’t smell a hit & rejects accordingly and finally one way or another, the album eventually gets the glowing reception it deserved in the first place.
To be fair, companies need sales to remain solvent. Decision-makers must act in the best interest of stake/stockholders. Also, in the early 2000s, Garage rock was ‘in’ and Wilco lacked the requisite ‘the’ in front of their band name.
But seriously, what was Reprise Records thinking?!
Reprise was right in one sense: YHF doesn’t have a surefire single like Being There‘s Outtasite (Outta Mind).
Instead, it is a cohesive & decadent 11-song set that is more than worthy of the many plaudits it has received.
A slow-burn perhaps but it’s another gem from Jeff Tweedy & co.