Time has done wonders for Sam Jones’ documentary on Wilco making its album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” The album was deemed the best disc of 2002 by the Village Voice Pazz & Jop panel, the premiere critics poll in the country, and with the Nonesuch label handling its affairs instead of Reprise, Wilco ventured to “hit” status for the imprint while coolly cruising below the major label radar. The docu itself captures Jeff Tweedy dealing with the various changes occurring with his band, songwriting and those nasty words “the music business”; the bonuses included simply display the greatness of the band that attracted Jones to them in the first place.
Two-disc set offers the usual filmmaker commentary and then an entire concert performance of Wilco with bits of Tweedy in a solo setting. Sound on the concert footage is professionally mixed on a few tunes and comes off as a studio perfs; that said, bonus material is still full of life and engaging. Jones, a photographer before making his filmmaking debut with “Break Your Heart,” is transfixed by Tweedy, trying to expose this rather closed-off artist through headshots rather than the spoken word. Jones captures the Tweedy Wilco fans believe they know — the singer-guitarist is reticent to reveal too much verbally and the original doc is as penetrating a look as Tweedy is ever likely to allow.
Jones’ docu is satisfying on so many levels, it makes the commentary almost superfluous. He entered the project as a fan and wound up capturing Wilco as it went through an experimental stage with its music and troubles with the old drummer and the old label. At the end of the bonus disc, as he explains the pic’s origins, he beams with a rightfully earned pride. Package includes inspired liner notes by David Fricke.