'Anodyne' was the final and best release from Uncle Tupelo- a band who are up there with Big Star & Husker Du in terms of duelling songwriters...It picks up where the Peter Buck-produced covers album left off- having been recorded live in the studio. It sounds like the missing-link between The Replacements 'All Shook Down' and Whiskeytown's 'Stranger's Almanac'. In years to come it will be seen as a seminal, influential album. It would be nice of Uncle Tupelo's back catalogue to be given a UK reissue- the same goes for the first four albums by American Music Club.
As with 'Candy Apple Grey' or '#1 Record', there are two gifted songwriters in Uncle Tupelo- Jay Farrar (who would later front Son Volt & has just released a solo album with members of Flaming Lips) and Jeff Tweedy (who would form 'Wilco', play with Golden Smog and guests on 'Insignificance' by Jim O'Rourke). Creatively this has made a wonderful album, on a personal level it saw an end to the band (kind of..).
'Slate' is a typically melancholic album- a definite influence on the opening track on 'Stranger's Almanac'. Farrar's vocals fit his songs which are darker than Tweedy's- who plays bass and sings harmonics on this track. The rest of the band will be familiar to Wilco fans- Ken Coomer plays drums, Max Johnston plays an array of instruments (as he would on 'AM' & 'Being There')and John Stirrat plays bass & guitar...'Acuff-Rose' begins with Johnston's Appalachian-fiddleplaying- which will go down well with those who liked the 'O Brother Where Art Thou' soundtrack or early albums by The Band...'The Long Cut' is a more convetional rocker- sounding like Paul Westerberg fronting The Only Ones playing a Whiskeytown song...'Give me Back My Heart' is written by guesting vocalist/musician Doug Sahm- and is reminiscent of Wilco songs like 'Forget the Flowers' & 'Passenger Side'...Farrar's 'Chickamauga' mines the world of REM's 'Fables of the Reconstruction of the Fables'- with a punk edge. This is as great as anything by The Replacements of The Scud Mountain Boys...'New Madrid' is a classic Tweedy song- one that Wilco played on their 'Being There' tour in the UK- and is close to tracks like 'It's Just That Simple' & 'Far Far Away'- but much better!: "Karen's over the landfill"...Next up is the title track- which is as dark as 'All Shook Down', 'Darklands' or 'The Flowers of Guatemala'. The steel guitars by Johnston & Maines jarr with the 'Pale Blue Eyes' meets '$1000 Wedding' of the song...'We've Been Had' is a more conventional Tweedy song- not far from the early albums of Green on Red...'15 Keys' sounds a little too similar to the preceding track- which may not mean it's bad, just that the sequence is a bit flawed...'High Water' begins with a lovely ambient guitar- very Pat McCarthy- as Farrar delivers another dusky ballad...'No Sense in Lovin' is a very Gram Parsons song- imagine if 'Brass Buttons' had been written after the new wave...The final track is 'Steal the Crumbs'which is a suprisingly upbeat ending a la 'Wendell Gee' and concludes a seminal album that anyone with an interest in rock music should own...Wonder why this was overlooked by the Music Press in this country?- I only heard of it in the wake of 'Being There' & Uncut's sponsorship of alt-country...Along with 'All Shook Down', 'Being There', 'Hollywood Town Hall', 'I See a Darkness', 'Love & Theft' & 'Red Dirt Girl'- this is one of the finest Americana albums of the last decade (or so). Find out for yourself.