I’m sitting here listening to Uncle Tupelo’s landmark album “No Depression” for the thousandth odd time–and I wanted to take a minute to thank Brian R. who introduced me to the band in it’s dying days back–oh–about 20 years ago. It took some urging–I thought Uncle Tupelo was a silly name and didn’t exactly rush out to the store, though I’m very, very glad that I finally did manage to pick up a used copy of No Depression down at the now defunct Paul’s Records on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s “Little Italy”, in 1994 (Paul’s lives on today as Sound Cat Recods, the coolest music store in the coolest city in the USA.) Uncle Tupelo has since become one of the prime makers of the soundtrack of my life–I’ve got a couple of teenagers who, through no fault of their own, can sing along with I belt out “Give Back The Keys To My Heart” in the truck.
Well, back on point, what I actually have my hands on here is the “legacy edition” of this album, which features 17 extra cuts–demos, alternate versions, and goodies like that. The only thing that could be better is if I had a chocolate malted milkshake while I listen and type this. For those not familiar with Uncle Tupelo, they were one of the best indie bands from the late 1980s and early 1990s. A little country, a little punk rock, and a whole lot brilliant, they were gone before the mainstream could find them, leaving behind four absolutely genius albums and planting many of the seeds that grew into the wildly popular alt.country genre. One of the reasons the band was so great was that it featured two fantastically gifted songwriters–Jeff Tweedy and Jay Fararr–and there just was just not enough room for both of them to fully express their different, though complimentary visions. Tweedy went on to found the band Wilco, while Fararr led Son Volt, in one of those rare instances in which the parts turned out to be so nearly close to the whole that both bands flourished.
Here’s an historic video: