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Uncle Tupelo

Anodyne – 2003 (Rhino)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Uncle Tupelo

"Anodyne" may be Uncle Tupelo's finest moment overall, but in some ways has a more conventional sound (less stop-and-go thrash, more sustained drive) than what preceded it; the loping sweetness of "Anodyne," Doug Sahm's "Give Back the Key to My Heart" and "No Sense In Lovin'," for example, sound a lot closer to classic country rock. It was also the most overtly country-sounding of Uncle Tupelo's records, due to the band's use of additional instrumentation in making it, particularly Max Johnston's fiddle and Lloyd Maines' pedal steel.

After four, there were no more, of course; having moved to a major label, the band came apart when it was apparently on the verge of wider success. But if, as is often the case with cult bands, the achievement of Uncle Tupelo approaches mythic status in hindsight, their four records were enough to give a new slant to the venerable pairing of country with rock and to give that pairing yet another name and yet another run.