Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sinking Radio Reminder / Uncle Tupelo's "Gun"

Uncle Tupelo (look how young Tweedy is)
Here’s my weekly reminder to tune in to Little Radio for Sinking with Sylvia (and Sometimes Todd) from Noon – 2:00 PM on Friday. This week their guests will be the Parson Red Heads, who will be playing on air and guest DJ’ing.

Each week, the show features an official You Set the Scene pick which I eventually write about here. On May 1st the show had an all 7” theme and my pick was Uncle Tupelo’s cover of the Soft Boys’ “I Wanna Destroy You.” Other than really liking the song, I picked it because it was a recent purchase from Freakbeat Records in Sherman Oaks. For the first time, I had enough time to scour their used 7” section and had some good finds (I also picked up a Teenage Fanclub 7” from their Matador days and an old Lou Barlow 7”).

Growing up in the Midwest, I became aware of Uncle Tupelo from an older cousin who was in college at the University of Kansas in the early 1990s. Uncle Tupelo was an incredibly influential band and is credited with spawning the alt-country genre. No Depression magazine was named after Uncle Tupelo’s first record, which itself is named after a Carter Family song. Even though I was exposed to the band during their heyday, I didn’t really become a fan until after they’d broken up and Jeff Tweedy had moved on to Wilco and Jay Farrar had moved on to Son Volt.

“I Wanna Destroy You” is the B-side to “Gun,” the first single from Uncle Tupelo’s second record. As I mentioned it’s a cover of the Soft Boys’ classic, written by Robyn Hitchcock. The song is a classic fuck the establishment song with simple, pissed off lyrics. “They fill your mind with boredom / And they lead you off to war” and “If you’re gonna fight / Then you’re just dying to get killed.” The song worked in 1980 when Hitchock wrote it and it worked in 1991 during the Gulf War when Uncle Tupelo recorded it and it still works today.

If you’re wondering where to start with the Uncle Tupelo catalog, the 89:93 Anthology is a good place. I tend to prefer March 16-20, 1992, which is their acoustic country album (produced by Peter Buck) but the anthology gives you a better idea of what they were as a band. Occasionally the guys lay on heavy, faux twang and their songs grate, but it’s a minor criticism.

Stream some tracks at the unofficial Myspace page
See a live performance of Uncle Tupelo doing “Gun” (via Youtube)

1 comment:

Danny said...

Uncle Tupelo is the shit! Whisky Bottle over Jesus. Not forever, just for now.