Uncle Tupelo: When You Find Trouble

Having made an attempt at creating an imaginary final Clash album earlier this week, with admittedly mixed results, I was in the mood to take a run at a far easier undertaking.  Now, Uncle Tupelo is the rare band that went out on a high point, 1993's Anodyne showing them in peak form just as they dissolved, with Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy splintering off to follow their own individual muses with Son Volt and Wilco, respectively.  Still, it's fun to speculate what a fifth Tupelo album might have sounded like had they soldiered on just a bit longer.

While initially Farrar's band, with a few contributions per record from Tweedy, Anodyne saw Tweedy continuing to develop as a singer and songwriter (which no doubt precipitated the break-up). This compilation takes that trend to its logical conclusion, the songs evenly divided between the two. 

The Farrar half was pretty easy; the first two Son Volt albums didn't vary greatly from Farrar's Anodyne tracks, rootsy guitar rock which retained some of Tupelo's trademark Americana while leaning more heavily on straight-ahead rockers. Indeed, 1996's Trace sounds exactly what one would have assumed the Farrar half of the next Tupelo album would have sounded like.

Tweedy was a little trickier. While Wilco's 1995 debut A.M. wasn't a radical departure from Tweedy's contributions to Tupelo, the band was already adding flourishes of power-pop to their sound, and 1996's sprawling double-LP Being There was even more varied, with hints of the more experimental pop-rock that would flourish on later Wilco albums.  For purposes of this exercise, I drew primarily from the more twangy, Americana-laden songs on the first couple Wilco albums (and some contemporaneous outtakes), as well as some of Tweedy's like-minded contributions to the Golden Smog supergroup.
The album draws its title from what was apparently the last song Uncle Tupelo recorded, a ballad written by bass player John Stirrat that was finally released on the recent A.M. deluxe reissue.

While I probably should've pared this down a bit, there are enough great tunes on those early Volt & Wilco albums to merit a longer mix, something that could've theoretically filled a 2-LP vinyl release, so I went with the extended version. I think it works pretty well as a unified whole (certainly relative to that Clash creation); maybe not quite as intriguing as similar projects I've attempted for the Beatles and Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett, but one which feels a lot like that post-Anodyne album sounds like in my head.

While we're here, maybe we sit down and watch the entire final Uncle Tupelo gig?
Here's a Spotify playlist: