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Ex-Wilco member Bennett dies

Monday, May 25, 2009 – Jay Bennett, 45, a former member of Wilco, died Sunday in his sleep in Urbana, Ill., where he lived. No cause of death was given.

Bennett released four solo albums, but was best known for his role in Wilco, the alt.-country band. He joined Wilco in 1994. Starting with 1996's "Being There," Bennett played keyboards, guitar and other instruments. He also contributed to songwriting with "Summerteeth" in 1999 and "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" in 2002.

However, Bennett and Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy had a rocky relationship as evidenced in the 2002 documentary, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." Tweedy fired Bennett, who sued breach of contract this month. He said he was owed royalties for his work on Wilco albums and the film.

On Wilco's web site, Tweedy wrote, "We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy. We will miss Jay as we remember him - as a truly unique and gifted human being and one who made welcome and significant contributions to the band's songs and evolution. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends in this very difficult time."

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CD reviews for Wilco

Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Session CD review - Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Session
Originally released in 1998, "Mermaid Avenue" is a stunning collaboration between English folk singer/songwriter Billy Bragg and the American roots rock juggernaut Wilco that found the artists setting unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics to music. The initial release was so well received that a second disc of songs from the Mermaid Avenue Sessions was released in 2000. Now, in conjunction with celebrations of what would have been Guthrie's 100th birthday, Nonesuch Records has bundled »»»
Being There
Wilco's follow up to "A.M." is the strange, noisy, unchannelled, dissonant, seductive, tuneful, and fiercely joyful result of the burden of expectations. Jeff Tweedy founded Uncle Tupelo, and inadvertently inspired a country insurgency. This double CD is Tweedy's kiss-off. "Misunderstood" opens with primitive feedback, melting into six string and piano. "I want to thank you all for nothing," Tweedy cries over tribal drumming. We know this isn't to be a record of subtleties. »»»
A.M.
After the breakup of pioneering alternative-country band Uncle Tupelo, it looked like the end of the line for the band's large cult following, who found musical nirvana in Uncle Tupelo's blend of indie-rock guts and heartfelt country twang. The legacy continues, however, in Wilco and Son Volt, respectively led by former Tupelo principals Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar. "A. M," showcases Tweedy's more pop-leaning sensibilities. The album begins with a couple of rootsy pop-rock gems ("I Must Be High" »»»