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The Irreparable Rift,
This review is from: Anodyne (Audio CD)
By now it should be apparent that, irrespective of genre, two brilliant songwriters can coexist within the same band for only so long. Such collaborations may last but a few months, as in the case of the early incarnation of Metallica that featured both James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine, or as long as several years in the cases of the dynamic duos that fronted the Beatles (ok, George Harrison made them a dynamic trio of songwriters) and Uncle Tupelo. Ultimately, however, a band with more than one ingenious songwriter is destined to fission.
Luckily, in the case of Uncle Tupelo, childhood friends Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy were able to work together long enough to produce four excellent studio albums, the last of which, Anodyne, represents their most remarkable artistic achievement as a songwriting team.
The proceedings start out well enough with the mournful "Slate" and hoedown worthy "Acuff-Rose". However, the meat of the album starts on the third track, "The Long Cut", which is the first in what seems like an endless stream of classics to come. "Give Back the Key to My Heart" manages to be sweet, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. As perhaps the finest and most rocking song UT ever recorded, "Chickamauga" features a several minute blistering guitar solo outro that soars to the rarified heights achieved before by only a handful of bands such as Pearl Jam on "Alive" and Pink Floyd on "Comfortably Numb". After the frenzied glory of "Chickamauga", the laid-back country pickin' on "New Madrid" comes almost as a relief. "We've Been Had" snags the riff from Springsteen's "Crush on You" and does great things with it. "Steal the Crumbs" is a wonderfully mellow closer.
It's a shame Farrar and Tweedy could no longer work together after Anodyne, yet you've got to admit they've both acquitted themselves quite well on their own since then. Maybe sometime I'll take the time to compare their post-Tupelo output and throw my two cents in on the Farrar vs. Tweedy debate. For now, I suggest that you pull out your copy of Anodyne, grab a bottle of IBC, and enjoy.