elcome to old fartdom. I am talking to you, my pal. The guy who use to swill down a good six pack of Yuengling. The guy who is now married and perhaps even has a kid running around his ankles. The guy who is more concerned with his 401K than K Records. You haven’t been out to a club to see a band in about three years. Don’t even give me the crap that you have. I don’t call that a club. I am talking about a club where the next day your clothes and hair wreak of sweat and stale beer. Welcome to the inevitable nightmare where you become a neo-baby boomer nincompoop.
Do you need further proof? Columbia/Legacy has released the anthology of alt-country pioneers Uncle Tupelo called 89/93 An Anthology. The Legacy label is reserved for folks like Miles Davis and Bob Dylan, even Blue Oyster Cult. These are artists who Columbia has set a special table for. What was once edgy and the secret pride of us hipsters has been given an honor of praise. The world will now know all about Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. They have been given respect.
Back in 1987, I proposed a radio program over at the community radio station I was working at. It would be a neo-country type show. A mix of old country, and music like the Replacements, Blasters, and X along with the “American Cosmic Music” of the 70’s. The programming staff wasn’t exactly keen, but they gave in and the program “Don’t Shoot” went on the air with me being the only host. A few years later, the record No Depression comes my way and my vision of a show is given verisimilitude. I read that the boys from UT were from Bellevue, Illinois, just over the river from St. Louis. Wait, this is where my grandparents live. Did a copy of my show land in the basement of the Farrar house? I will never know. This coincidence allows me to boldly claim it is I who am the godfather of the whole alt-country movement. I will take all the blame. I know, I know, I have a little bit of apologizing to do. Anyway.
The anthology is quite a decent collection, covering all the essential tracks from all four Uncle Tupelo albums. 21 tracks from a band that has gathered a following of mythic proportions since it’s brief incarnation. Folks who have been lucky to scrape up the early out-of-print recording will be happy to note the tracks have been remastered and there are live, unreleased and hard to find tracks including a demo of "Not Forever, Just For Now" and "Outdone", the hard to find single "I Got Drunk", and covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s "Effigy" and The Stooges "I Wanna Be Your Dog". Those who never have heard the “Velvet Underground of Y’all-ternative” and need to hear the roots of Sun Volt and Wilco should seek this out ASAP.
Reviewed by: Tom Casetta
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01