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.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

This is an interview I did for WGTB Georgetown radio in Catherine Degennaro. It was very random – she found my 100 for 2000 article about Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and got in touch. I have been involved in a lot of radio in my life and was missing it – so I jumped at the chance.

Re: Stacks – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by WGTB Blog

http://georgetownradio.blogspot.com/2010/08/re-stacks-yankee-hotel-foxtrot.html

Check it out and the rest of the Re: Stacks series.

How odd to have this online, possibly forever.

100 for 2000 – #72. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2007 – #2. Wilco – Nonesuch
(Nonesuch)

Wilco were one of my favourite bands of the 90s. Those high school and just after years. My beaten up copies of Summerteeth and Being There went with me just about everywhere. Through them I discovered a world of American music. In 2001, with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, they became a different band. They had the same emotional intensity, but a very different sound. So it was with extreme pleasure that Sky Blue Sky came along. It doesn’t sound like their 90s stuff exactly, but it harkens back to that simplicity – and takes it somewhere new.

I played this album to death. It’s so warm and engaging. This is exactly the kind of stuff I like, and that most of my friends can’t stand. Dudes singing in tight harmonies, guitars strummed and not riffing, someone in the band might have a beard. I remember that first listen, walking home through Notting Hill, hearing those excellent songs, and how easily that meal went down.

Which is slightly odd because Wilco has always been a band that challenged me. And they didn’t do it with this record.

(Have you heard my You Am I/Wilco, best friend/lover theorem? Well, I have two favourite bands. Australian band You Am I and Wilco, and for very different reasons.

You Am I strike me close to the bone, as if they sing with my voice and about my thoughts. I can go years between albums and pick straight up where we left of. There’s no new language to learn, we speak the same one. In short, You Am I are like a best friend.

Wilco however, challenge me. I had never heard such drones and noise til I heard Misunderstood. Or an album as sprawling and wonderous as Being There. The thick sunshine pop of Summerteeth. A man named Woody Guthrie. Those amazing lyrics. So Wilco is like a lover, someone you are scarmbling to keep up with, that you want to impress, and improve yourself for. Someone who makes you want to be better than yourself.

I spend a lot of time thinking about music.)

Lead Wilcan Jeff Tweedy said, about this record, that he wanted to write songs that his wife would actually like. And in that, it reminds me of something Beck said about Bob Dylan‘s Nashville Skyline. What’s happening here is a a bunch of guys who can do almost anything they want sonically, just kicking out a couple of tunes.

The tunes are some of Tweedy‘s best. Either Way, You Are My Face, Please Be Patient With Me (later used so well in the movie Ghost Town), What Light – the acoustic guitar was back in Wilco‘s arsenal. But there’s plenty of fireworks too. The guitar theatrics of Impossible Germany and Walken make them live staples for years and years to come. I know Tara’s favourite is On And On And On, a song for Tweedy’s father after the death of his mother.

For me though, my favourite is Sky Blue Sky. It has that lazy Grateful Dead-ish shuffle, and an amazing lyric. So happy to leave what was my home. I line that resonated, of course. But later that year after I had a nasty car accident – I survived/that’s good enough for now. Thirteen years and how ever many songs later, they still pull one out that goes straight into the top 5 Wilco songs.

I didn’t love Wilco (the album) as much as this one. And the last time I saw them live, they drifted into indulgence. I shouldn’t doubt. They’ve proven me wrong before. But this love affair that started in 1995…can it survive into the next decade?

100 for 2000 – #46. Wilco – A Ghost Is Born

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2004 – #6. Wilco – A Ghost Is Born
(Nonesuch)

With some years passed, it’s easier to see the faults on A Ghost Is Born. At the time, coming off the brilliant Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco could do no wrong.

It is here that the guitar noodling really starts for Wilco. And in many ways, the next two albums have been variations on this one. On this very long album, they pushed the boundaries of what Wilco could be. Sadly, they have stayed well within that boundary ever since.

That aside – there are many Wilco classics on here. Handshake Drugs, Theologians, Late Greats, At Least That’s What You Said… to name a few. It’s an album that still looms large in a current Wilco setlist.

Oddly, for one of my favourite bands, I am personally quite unconnected with this album. I used YHF like an old pair of jeans – I wore them often, they lived my life with me. This one didn’t have that for me.

So why is this record on the list? Well, because it’s still a very great record. And I have odd relationships with favourite artists, and their not-so-favourite albums. I still love them, I still know them inside out, but they are not everything I know they can be.

100 for 2000 – #22. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2002 – #2. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
(Nonesuch)

I’m not sure if you need this blog to tell you how great Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is. Wilco’s fourth album knocked it out of the park.

Worth gave me this album, on cassette, ages before it came out. He knew somebody, somehow. He gave it to me at the Vic On the Park in Marrickville, after some show. By the time I walked away from the venue, onto the train and made it home, 40 odd minutes later, the album had finished. Looking at the lights of the city fly by on a late night neon lit train is the best way to hear this record.

I was very happy to see the towers on the cover in Chicago earlier this year.

Go out and get it if you don’t have it, then check out the movie I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, one of the best rock movies/docos in recent years.

The Great Leap Forwards Top Ten Of 2009 (so far)

Lily Album - Its definitely her

Lily Album - It's definitely her

We are a blog after all. So lets make some lists.

Top 10 albums of the year so far

1. Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You
2. God Help the Girl – s/t
3. Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications
4. Bell X1 – Blue Lights On the Runway
5. Rhett Miller – s/t
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz
7. Wilco – Wilco (the Album)
8. The Mummers – Tale To Tell
9. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
10. Bob Evans – Goodnight, Bull Creek!

We’ll leave the full babble for the end of the year. But Lily Allen‘s new, confident, mature, nasty, fun record has topped our list so far, with Stuart Murdoch’s new project God Help the Girl coming in a very close second. Jarvis Cocker starts all over as a British Nick Cave figure. So far a wonderful year for music and so much more to come.

So many albums only just missed out. Here’s our top 10 songs not on our top 10 albums list.

1. Phoenix – Lisztomania
2. Yves Klein Blue – Getting Wise
3. Regina Spektor – Dance Anthem Of the 80s
4. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – A Teenager In Love
5. Casiotone For the Painfully Alone – Natural Light
6. Franz Ferdinand – Katherine Kiss Me
7. Doves – 10:03
8. Camera Obscura – You Told A Lie
9. Gomez – Airstream Driver
10. Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter

Vinyl Saturdays At Indie Retail

Green Day - Know Your Enemy 7

Green Day - Know Your Enemy 7"

2009’s Record Store Day was the most successful yet. A huge list of exclusive releases was given to Indie retail all around the world (although, mainly in America). It showed that, for at least one day a year, people can still walk into a record shop. Now let’s see if people will do it on the third Saturday of every month.

Again starting in the US but hopefully spreading further, the Record Store Day people have organised Vinyl Saturday on, as stated, the third Saturday of every month. Vinyl made up a bulk of RSD‘s exclusives this year. It’s a format that is experiencing another of it’s occasional booms. It certainly has a lot of good will at the moment.

Vinyl Saturday, a great idea that we support even if our wallets don’t, is starting off with a bang. No less than Green Day, still hot from their 800 billion selling album 21st Century Breakdown, is opening proceedings with a very limited 7″ of their latest single Know Your Enemy backed with Hearts Collide, an unreleased track. Wilco offer a 7″ of You Never Know, from their upcoming album, backed with Unlikely Japan (a demo of Impossible Germany from their last album). Modest Mouse and Scarlett Johansson/Pete Yorn offer tracks on 7″ from upcoming albums as well. All of them are limited to around 5000 copies.

Oh how we love 7″ singles and their unique artwork and 5 minutes promise of bliss. We love the unreleased b-side, the hidden treasure of a 7″. Hopefully there is a flood of cool 7″s coming out because of this initiative. And hopefully it gets out of the US. And looking at the repertoire – someone other than Warner Music Group participates.

Interestingly – what was considered the hottest exclusive of Record store Day was Beck and Sonic Youth‘s split 7″. It’s currently going for almost $50 US on eBay. So get in quick!

More info at the Record Store Day website – http://www.recordstoreday.com