1993, Music

Anodyne (1993) by Uncle Tupelo

I absolutely loved March 16-20, 1992 the first time I heard it. My review of it is pretty damn glowing and I’m kind of unsure I want to revisit formally because I’m pretty sure I won’t like it as much as I did the first time I encountered it. I don’t know what it was specifically, but I was really in the right mood. (Also, if you get the bonus tracks you get their cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” which is my favourite cover ever.)

Anodyne feels more ambitious but also more traditional (at times) if that’s possible. On the one hand the band has expanded in size and they make the odd use of electric instruments. But when the fiddle and mandolin are out the intent is clear: they are trying more than ever not to sound like contemporary alternative music, despite the songs.

Knowing way too much about Wilco it’s tempting to read both Farrar’s and Tweedy’s songs about the impending breakup of this band and their relationship. Whether or not that’s foolish – it is, especially when Farrar is clearly singing about a breakup of a romantic relationship – they have both written pretty strong sets of songs, which is what you would expect. (And the cover, not one I know, is good enough, though I don’t know that Doug Sahm adds anything more than his endorsement of their sound.) And the performances are as ragged as you would expect for the genre.

But it lacks something of the charm of the pervious record and it really does feel as though the there is an attempt not to make the band more professional but to make them more “authentic” or something like that, and I’m not sure it entirely works.

I entirely suspect that after many more listens I might like this even more than I do right now but, at the moment, I prefer the band when the were smaller.


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