Uncle Tupelo

Let’s take a look at the short-lived career of Uncle Tupelo, the unstable nucleus that fissioned into Wilco and Son Volt!

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Every post on this site is meant to be a constantly evolving diary of my musical views. Therefore, any and all posts should be considered incomplete at any given time.

I’m a huge fan of both Son Volt and Wilco. Uncle Tupelo, on the other hand…meh…

Don’t get me wrong, there are some undeniably great moments in Uncle Tupelo’s catalog, but the truth is, they didn’t really hit their stride until Anodyne, which is essentially a debut EP for Son Volt and a debut EP for Wilco combined into one album. 

OK, maybe that’s not fair, but my point is, the best work for Farrar and Tweedy would come later. 

Still, I enjoyed really diving into their catalogs for this, and there are more great tracks than I remembered. Especially “Gun”…wow, that’s an AWESOME song, and I’m just now picking up on that all these years after first hearing it.

Alright, let’s do this…

ALBUMS

Uncle Tupelo No Depression LP cover

No Depression

Release Year: 1990
My Rating: B+


Solid cow punk record. "Graveyard Shift" is one helluva sonic manifesto, just a totally iconic track.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Graveyard Shift", "That Year", "Whiskey Bottle", "Screen Door"

Uncle Tupelo Still Feel Gone LP cover

Still Feel Gone

Release Year: 1991
My Rating: B+


Wow, this sounds A LOT like Dinosaur, Jr! Honestly, I wouldn't really even call this record Alt-Country, it's just early 90's alternative / college rock. And that's not a bad thing!

HIGHLIGHTS: "Gun", "Looking for a Way Out", "Still Be Around", "Watch Me Fall"

Uncle Tupelo March 16-20, 1992 LP cover

March 16-20, 1992

Release Year: 1992
My Rating: C+


One cool thing about this album: Peter Buck was producing it in the middle of recording Automatic For The People, a stone cold classic from R.E.M. And I can feel a little of that vibe here. However, for me, the songs just aren't that great, and this one's way too folksy. "Grindstone" starts things off perfect, something like a Meat Puppets vibe, but the rest of this just feels a little too pretentious and severe. "Sandusky" is a pretty sweet lil' instrumental though, very REM-ish.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Grindstone", "Fatal Wound", "Sandusky"

Uncle Tupelo Anodyne LP cover

Anodyne

Release Year: 1993
My Rating: A


Just as they put it all together on one amazing album, it all falls apart. The first 8 tracks all belong on the best-of, that's how good this one is.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Slate", "Acuff Rose", "The Long Cut", "Chickamauga", "Anodyne"

OTHER RELEASES & TRACKS

Uncle Tupelo I Got Drunk b/w Sin City 7

I Got Drunk 7"

Release Year: 1990

Nice lil' slab of cow punk.

HIGHLIGHTS: "I Got Drunk"

Uncle Tupelo Sauget Wind 7" cover

Sauget Wind 7"

Release Year: 1992

Nothing really special for me. I do like the acoustic version of "Looking For A Way Out" better than the rock version, though.

HIGHLIGHTS: none

Miscellaneous Tracks

  • "Left In The Dark": Sounds like an early R.E.M. outtake.
  • "Effigy": Cool slow-rocker from the classic No Alternative compilation.
  • "I Wanna Destroy You": Fun cover of a Soft Boys track. Sounds very early 90's alternative.
  • "Stay True": Hard rockin' outtake from Anodyne sessions. Pretty cool, but nothin' special.
  • "Wherever": Slow swayin' Anodyne outtake led by Tweedy. Sounds like early Wilco.
  • "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?": An Anodyne outtake, cover of an old Waylon Jennings song, sung by Joe Ely.

MISCELLANEOUS / RELATED

  • Wilco: coming soon
  • Son Volt: coming soon

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