Saturday, March 31, 2007

Classic Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Uncle Tupelo - Live at The Vic Theatre, Chicago 1993

I'll be out of town for most of the next week, leaving TTT in Rich's capable hands, but I wanted to throw up one more boot before I hit the road -- to leave with a flourish, you might say. I'll be out in the woods with my boys for 4 days, too -- a little camping, a little fishing, the occasional nip from a bottle of Maker's -- which means I have Uncle Tupelo on my mind. For some reason, road trips always remind me of Uncle Tupelo, maybe because there's no better music for driving down a Southern highway with the windows down.

Of course, Tupelo was one of the most influential bands of the last 20 years -- after all, the entire "alt country" movement for a time was referred to as "No Depression," after their groundbreaking debut album. But in large part, the breadth of that influence wouldn't be widely acknowledged or fully appreciated until after the band finally succumbed, in the spring of '94, to the long-simmering acrimony between Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar. (Thankfully, we got Wilco and the first, fantastic Son Volt record out of that deal.)

This is probably my favorite Uncle Tupelo boot, although there are a few others that could vie for that title. It was recorded, but never broadcast, by radio station WXRT at The Vic Theatre in Chicago in October of 1993, early in the tour that supported the band's final record, the now-classic Anodyne. The sound is terrific, the band is in fine form in front of an adoring, almost-hometown crowd, and the setlist hits just about every highlight of their career, including most of the tunes that the suddenly brilliant and prolific Tweedy was turning out towards the end (although "Gun," his absolute turning point as a songwriter, is conspicuously absent). It also sounds to me like they're still having fun here, which is why I chose to share this show over the widely bootlegged, and more historically significant, final show in St. Louis the following May. One listen to this show and it's not hard to understand why Uncle Tupelo were, and still are, so revered. But it is tough to believe that within 6 months after this performance, Tweedy and Farrar will no longer be able to tolerate being in the same room together. Ah well, it was damn sweet while it lasted.


Front cover
Back cover

Disc 1:
Fifteen Keys
Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down
True To Life
Watch Me Fall
The Long Cut
Atomic Power
New Madrid
Steal The Crumbs

Disc 2:
We've Been Had
Give Back The Key To My Heart
Looking For A Way Out
Life Worth Living
Truck Driving Man
Sin City
Suzie Q