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music

Wilco

IT’S A GREAT AMERICAN STORY, late-capitalist style. Scruffy heartland band (Wilco) makes its best record (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) amid internal strife and shakeouts (two members fired); submits master tapes to its record label (Reprise, a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner); receives deafening silence (two weeks without any response), followed by demands for changes (due to “lack of commercial potential”). Then, when bandleader (Jeff Tweedy) refuses to rerecord the songs, label exec (David Kahne, then acting head of Reprise) unceremoniously shows band the back door. Band leaves label with unusual perks of canceled debts and ownership of master tapes, is courted vigorously by other labels, and finally signs with Nonesuch (another subsidiary of AOL Time Warner), who release the record in April 2002 and watch it debut on the Billboard album chart at number thirteen, the band’s strongest commercial

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