UNCLE TUPELO – ” Anodyne Uncle ” Vinyl Reissue

Posted: January 18, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,

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When Americana pioneers Uncle Tupelo released their major-label debut, “Anodyne” on October 5th, 1993, it should have been the beginning of something big. They were following up their left-turn acoustic record, March 16-20, 1992, recorded with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, with their best record yet

Recorded live in the studio amid mounting tension between singer / songwriters Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, “Anodyne” proved to be Uncle Tupelo’s last and finest album. These final sessions find Farrar and Tweedy crafting a seamless mesh of country, folk and rock that both encompasses and exceeds the range of previous albums.

Anodyne smoothed the jarring, start-stop rhythms of the band’s first two records, No Depression and Still Feel Gone, into a straight-ahead steamroll behind new drummer Ken Coomer. Farrar’s barbed guitar riffs sear on “Chickamauga,” where he compares a crumbling relationship to a Civil War bloodbath. Quieter moments such as the title track flex the strength of new multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston, who played dobro, banjo and fiddle, and former guitar tech John Stirratt, who held down bass when Tweedy switched to guitar.

With the straight-up country of Acuff-rose (a tribute to the famed songwriting duo), and the folky New Madrid, Tupelo displays the traditional leanings found on March 16-20, 1992, while both the bass-heavy The Long Cut and the barnstorming Chickamauga broaden the punk-tinged sound of No Depression and Still Feel Gone. While Anodyne also features a raucous collaboration with the late Doug Sahm on Give Back the Key to My Heart, its most transcendent moments are the world-weary Slate and the sublime title track, one of the most beautifully bittersweet songs penned since Neil Young’s Helpless. Although anodyne proved to be the end of the line for Uncle Tupelo, it opened up more expansive roads for Farrar and Tweedy,

Eventually, the friction between lifelong friends Farrar and Tweedy brought down the band at their biggest moment. Tweedy rushed the remaining members of Uncle Tupelo into the studio to record Wilco’s 1995 debut A.M., while Farrar took the long cut and found success with the hit single “Drown” on Son Volt’s Trace a year later.

Farrar has continued to wrestle with obscure, early country and folk music and his textured guitar wranglings over eight solid albums. Wilco has evolved from a Tupelo-twin to an engine of reinvention, from the deconstructionist country-rock of 1996’s Being There to the shimmering heartbreak of 1999’s Summerteeth and 2001’s experimental Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

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