Album review

This Month In Americana

Since their split in May '94, Uncle Tupelo's reputation as America's foremost alt.country pioneers grows ever more unshakeable. Though their tenet was a simple one—that country, punk and rock all tapped into identical emotions; that Buck Owens and The Minutemen weren't mutually exclusive—it often appeared a solitary light in a landscape prowling with Nirvanas and Pearl Jams. With the late-'90's Americana boom, however, the band finally began taking belated bows.

This reissue of their 1993 swan song still sounds spectacular. If cracks were starting to form, there's little sign here. After the spare beauty of the Peter Buck-produced March 16-20 1992, Anodyne stuck to its live-in-the-studio formula to fashion a near-perfect mash of scything rock and bruise-black honky-tonk. Farrar's lugubrious lead-off ("Slate") remains its crowning glory, but this record is studded with rare booty. Tweedy's wildly fiddlin'"Acuff-Rose"is both a celebration of tradition and a reminder of old-guard ubiquity, while "New Madrid" is a clear marker for all roads Wilco. And while the sleep-blurred title track and pounding "Chickamauga"offer up both sides of the Farrar coin, two key Tupelo influences are present in Texan legend Doug Sahm's "Give Me Back The Key To My Heart"(Sahm himself on guitar/vocals) and Waylon Jennings'"Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?"(Joe Ely sharing vocals). The latter, its baton clearly awaiting its next palm, seems entirely appropriate.

Rating: 4 / 10


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Weird serendipities aplenty this week: versions of "O, Death" on two albums I downloaded one after another, by Mike & Cara Gangloff and Bessie Jones; dovetailing into Sea Island overlap between Jones and Loscil. It makes for a nice blurring between time and genre with, say, the Gangloffs...