Not being a huge fan of country music, or even the more recent alt-country movement, I originally approached 89/93: An Anthology with a little trepidation. I didn’t actually know much about Uncle Tupelo previous to purchasing this compilation, other than the two main players would later go their separate ways and go on to form Son Volt and Wilco, two of alt-country’s most important bands, and that Uncle Tupelo themselves plaid a key role in laying out the blue print for alt-country and are often credited (accurately or not) for getting the whole sub-genre rolling.
Being more of a rock fan, I do appreciate Uncle Tupelo’s louder numbers, while their more traditional country influenced numbers used to wash over me a little. On listening to this compilation you get the impression that as time went on, Uncle Tupelo moved further away from the sounds of ‘traditional’ country, which is probably why I prefer the later material on here. “I Got Drunk” is probably my favourite original song on the whole compilation, although I do have a soft-spot for the band’s well-executed cover versions of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Effigy” which are available on here.
Those expecting to hear some proto-Wilco sonic-envelope pushing may be disappointed, but 89/93: An Anthology is still a nice collection of tunes to meander in and out of. It’s not a collection that demands that you listen to it beginning to end, it just lays out the career arc of Uncle Tupelo in sort-of chronological order with the minimum of fuss, and leaves you to make up your own mind on the band and their output.
For those new to Uncle Tupelo, or even alt-country itself, 89/93: An Anthology is a good primer, and for some, it will be all they’ll ever need to hear of them. While this compilation may not convert you to the cause, it at least gives you the salient points.