Continuous Hit Music: Uncle Tupelo – Anodyne

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: Uncle Tupelo
Title: Anodyne
Original Release: 1993
Label: Sire
Store: Jelly Sounds
Price: $28.96
(Rhino reissue – 2010)

Firstly – Jelly Sounds. I have no idea who these guys are, and many of my vinyl mates have not heard of it either. Based out of Queensland, it is the best stocked and cheapest new vinyl site I can find. Even the shipping is cheap. They are cheaper than almost every Australian eBay seller I can find. Reliable, quick, and a great selection.

If you buy vinyl in Australia, I suggest you check it out. http://www.jellysounds.com.au/

And they stocked this record, Anodyne. For a few years it was my favourite album of all time. It is still well and truly up there. Rhino finally put out a excellent vinyl edition in 2010. I’m not even sure it ever came out on vinyl the first time around.

The story of this album is all over the internet. It is, along with maybe Son Volt’s Trace, the high watermark of this genre that came to be known as alt-country. It’s beautiful. It rocks. It has Doug Sahm. Most importantly, it is the last word on one of the greatest somgwriting partnerships of all rock. The riches of music that came from the bands that followed – Wilco and Son Volt – started here.

In a pub in London with a new super-boss, he asked the entire team what our favourite albums were. A highly inappropriate question, I think. I said it was Wilco’s Being There (still true, I guess). Michael commented that it would either be that or Uncle Tupelo, depending on how obscure I wanted to get.

The album has dated extremely well. So many bands still want to sound like this. Jay Farrar’s songs in particular hold up. Full of mystery and sadness, they still reveal new secrets almost 20 years later. It’s his use of words that is his greatest power. The album was called Anodyne for god’s sake. Not a popular word in popular music.

It is one of maybe 20 albums where I know all the chords and lyrics to. I played many of these songs in teenaged bands. Forcing people to learn them. I learnt harmonies listening to ‘New Madrid’. This record is a very big part of me.

It is a thrill to finally have it on vinyl. It’s a big gatefold record, and a nice quality pressing. It has been treated with priority care, like a new Wilco record.

If you’ve not heard Uncle Tupelo, or the rich well of ‘alt-country’ records that came before 2000, then this is the place to start. May it lead you to the Old 97’s, the Jayhawks, the Bottle Rockets, Slobberbone and all that.

When Wilco first toured Australia, I got to meet them, and we discussed Tupelo. Jeff said they couldn’t play the songs because Glenn, then the new drummer, didn’t know them. But Glenn said he would learn them if he had time. And yup, next show, they kicked into two songs from this album – ‘New Madrid‘ and ‘We’ve Been Had‘. I’ll never lose that memory.

Tuesday Tunes: Son Volt – Down To the Wire

Son Volt - American Central Dust - Out July 7th

Son Volt - American Central Dust - Out July 7th

Son Volt were one of the kings of the mid 90s alternative country scene. Son Volt frontman Jay farrar formed Uncle Tupelo in his teens with old friend Jeff Tweedy (later of Wilco). When Tupelo fell apart, Farrar recorded under the name Son Volt and released the masterpiece Trace. Trace is still considered by many to be one of greatest alt-country, modern country, No Depression, roots rock or whatever tag you want to put to it – it’s still one of the best albums of that type.

A few solo album asides, Son Volt are set to release their 6th studio album. They’ve lost none of their Everyman style when they called the album American Central Dust, and the record hits July 7th on Rounder records.

The track is good, solid Son Volt. Their last album was experimental, with soul and jazz creeping in. This track seems to be back to straight up heartland rock.

You can find a free, legal download for Down To the Wire on RCRD LBL, an amazing free mp3 site – http://rcrdlbl.com/2009/06/18/download_son_volt_down_to_the_wire