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No Depression (Legacy Edition)
Format: Audio CDChange
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2004
I missed Uncle Tupelo first time around but bought No Depression following the recent re-issue and was completely blown away.
From Graveyard Shift to John Hardy the standard never dips; country, punk, rock & roll, blues and grunge - it's all in there, blended and delivered with devastating effect. As usual Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy share lead vocal duties, brilliantly raw and passionate in their delivery of lyrics so succinct yet instatly image provoking that I was reminded of early REM and the Velvet Underground.
Slightly in-your-face and heavy in places it may take a few listens to be fully appreciated, but then all the best records do!
Stand out tracks include That Year, Train, Flatness, Screen Door and John Hardy. The anthemic Whiskle Bottle is the album's pinnacle, although it'd be possible to agrue for most tracks it's such a rich piece of work.
The bonus numbers are a nice "to have" but don't really add much to the original track list. The cover of Gram Parson's Sin City and acoustic version of Whiskey Bottle probably the highlights here.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Which of the following is the most important and influential American album, Nirvana's "Nevermind" or Uncle Tupelo's "No Depression"? These two albums which were released within about a year of each other have had a huge and profound impact. Certainly were it a contest over record sales the answer would be easy since "No Depression" has barely shifted much more than 50,000 copies when Nevermind used to sell that number on a daily basis. But in terms of influence "grunge" was a passing phase while Alternative Country deepens, develops and mutates in all directions and Uncle Tupelo can claim with some large justification to be the fountain-head for this.

"No Depression" is the debut album of this band from Belleville, Illinois comprising Jay Farrar (vocals, guitar); Jeff Tweedy (vocals, bass); Mike Heidorn (drums). Of course, the first two musicians went on to form two of the most influential US bands ever namely in Farrar's case "Son Volt" and for Tweedy the great "Wilco". But is all started in Uncle Tupelo and an album which is not necessarily their best but which created a genre and a wider movement. "No Depression" did of course become synonymous as a term with alternative country and also gave its name to the periodical which did so much to bring to the attention of the wider world bands like the Drive by Truckers, Gillian Welch and Whiskeytown. The music on "No Depression" is not earth shattering but what it does is mix country with rock, folk and punk and come up with an incendiary product which crafts all these elements into a powerful cocktail. The band's most crucial factor however was timing since for those music lovers fed up with some of the dour post-punk bands of that era (e.g. Fugazi and Jesus Lizard) the arrival of Uncle Tupelo were the proverbial "comet hitting the ground". "No Depression" is essentially a Jay Farrar led album. It is hard to recall through the prism of hindsight provided by Wilco's domination of American music that Jeff Tweedy was the junior partner here. Indeed as his songwriting skills and confidence grew the tensions between Farrar and Tweedy became volcanic and led to their acrimonious split in 1994. In that time they produced four great albums with "No Depression" setting out the manifesto in very harsh terms.

The best songs on the album are the great rocking opener "Graveyard shift" where Farrar sets out that deep country voice which is so instantly recognisable and the punk ethic which can sometimes be "Pogues like" in its raucous intensity. It is followed by a set of great songs. "That year" is pure Carter Family crossed with the Ramones, while "Before I break" has the harshest of vocals from Farrar and a burning guitar backdrop. "Factory Belt" with its stop-start opening is almost like the Replacements in its sheer pop power albeit with a twist of country. "Train" alternatively starts as a Tweedy led song with power chords and a great vocal and prefigures some of the songs on "Summerteeth" until it breaks into an all out stomp. "Whiskey Bottle" is generally acknowledged to be the best song on the album and displays much more light and shade than many of the country punk thrashes. It is all aching slide guitars and a brilliant world weary vocal by Farrar. Even the most casual observer will recognise that the collected works of Richmond Fontaine owes a huge debt to this song. The take on the traditional song "John Hardy" is a pure jumping joy, while in terms of extras the version of Gram Parsons "Sin City" is much stripped back and much more "Mid West" than the original.

"No Depression" prefigured the division between Farrar's more traditionalist approach to country and Tweedy's later experimental music. It remains a fundamental statement of intent and had the X factor which unleashed thousands of other bands into the great alt-country genre. Great songs were to follow including the wonderful "Chickamauga", Tweedy's "New Madrid" and the aching "Moonshiner", but "No Depression" retains its special place as an inspirational source of huge and continuing resonance. It's said that everyone who heard the Velvet Underground's seminal debut formed a band it appears that this feat was repeated with "No Depression" which is the sign of true worth.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2000
With the release of this record in 1990, Uncle Tupelo introduce themselves to the world, tipping their collective hats to generations of country musicians before them (the title track "No Depression" is a faithful cover of the A.P. Carter classic), while embracing their own punk/hardcore influences. This record, their debut, launched more than simply their own career - by fusing the simplicity and honesty of country music with the bracing noise and rage of punk, Uncle Tupelo kick-started a revolution which is still reverberating throughout the American underground. Gram Parsons had spoken of places such as these, but Uncle Tupelo put alt.country on the map, effectively creating a new genre. This is thus a landmark recording.
In terms of music, this album is far 'harsher' than anything else Uncle Tupelo have done. But for harsher you should read punkier. Although this record is heavily influenced by The Replacements and Husker Du, these guys somehow manage to never let you forget that this *is* country music that you are listening to. And sure enough adding colour to the white noise you hear the mandolins, the fiddles and the banjos.
Mostly the songs are about working hard... for nothing, drinking... for no reason, living... only because you are alive; but occasionally you sense that these songs will take you to a better place. And they do.
This record is essential listening for any alt.country music fan, for the uninitiated "Still Feel Gone" is probably a safer bet. But out here where we're all friends ... what have you got to lose?
Standout cuts include: "No Depression", "Screen Door", "Factory Belt", "Whiskey Bottle," "Before I Break".
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VINE VOICEon 15 June 2011
Actually this might not be my favourite UT album but it was my first and remains a welcome blast of the best alt, country around. Punk energy was ok until it became as self indulgent and arrogant as the music it tried to replace,this gives us the energy of punk with the soul of country. It's a continuation of the gig that Gram Parsons started and Neil Young continued (until he ran out of steam). I've tried to explore some of the roots and branches over the past few years and come to as many dead ends(Wilco) as promising openings but this is certainly one of the latter.
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on 5 March 2014
In case you were wondering whether it was worth replacing the 2003 remaster of this album that you already own, the answer is a definite yes. 'I Got Drunk' and 'Left In The Dark', which really should have been on that previous CD are now present and are highlights of the first disc.
The demo disc is largely almost as great as the album in its own way with only a few poorer quality tracks tagged on to the end for bonus curiosity value. Classic and worthy stuff, even if it is a re-reissue.
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on 30 October 2011
"Alt-country?"? There are all sorts of influences here. A country base with strong elements not of rock but heavy rock, with some punkish beats thrown in. The first track, "Graveyard Shift" takes you straight in to their storming full on sound and is my favourite. The better known "Whisky Bottle" my second. The title track is a lighter, hopeful, song. The first three tracks are a little too similar, but good nonetheless. It reminds me most of a pumped up Lynyrd Skynyrd. Briilant stuff
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on 22 February 2013
I'd say this is more 3.5 starts (why amazon...why??!) Obviously, they kickstarted a movement with this record. On first listen I was impressed with the overall sound...don't think the extra tracks on the reissue are needed though...I found myself skipping through them. I feel this may be a grower...influential, loud country with hints of punk (punctry?) but feel there are other artists blazing a better trail-ie-Austin Lucas, Two Cow Garage, Drag The River and American Aquarium.
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on 25 February 2014
I have the original album so it was good to get all the extra tracks.
Uncle Tupelo helped introduce me to Alternate Country or Americana
and I have since built a large collection including all their work. They
really define the era. Jay Farrar is one of my favourite sigers but I never
really followed Wilco who have deviated away from this genre.
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Bought on the basis of reviews and the track record of the personnel involved. I had high expectations but am left a little disappointed. Some quite indistinctive material, which I hoped repeated listening would help me appreciate it more. All that happened was show me that it all became a bit samey, and a bit 'so what'. Doesn't live up to the hype for me
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on 27 February 2014
Most people start with Anodyne which is teir most acceible album. No depression is the way to start though. It a raw mix of rock, Replacements way, and what could be named Americana in the making. A really great record.
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