3 Minute Record

"We learned more from a three minute record baby than we ever learned in school..." -from No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen

Filtering by Tag: Records

Record Spin Playlist - December 2012

Nearly each month we are lucky enough to spin our vinyl and plug in our iPods for a few hours at The Royale in South St. Louis to provide the soundtrack for the evening. Here’s our playlist for December 2012.

Record Spin Playlist – The Royale, St. Louis, MO – 12/27/12 with Scott Allen, Bart Darnell, Jeff Fields and Lauren Smalley

Cat Power - Cherokee
Now, Now - Thread
Gossip - Love and Let Love
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Thrift Shop
* LCD Soundsystem - Daft Punk is Playing at my House
* Sleigh Bells - A/B Machine
Foxy Shazam - I Wanna Be Yours
Japandroids - Evil's Sway
* The Gay Blades - Bob Dylan's 115th Nightmare
Titus Andronicus - In A Big City
The Gaslight Anthem - Biloxi Parrish
Butch Walker - Synthesizers
Delta Spirit - Trashcan
The dB's - That Time Is Gone
The Rolling Stones - Can't You Hear Me Knocking
Lucero - Sounds of the City
Alejandro Escovedo - Evening Gown
Beck - Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Lee Baines III & The Glory Fires - Magic City Stomp
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound - To Love Someone (That Don't Love You)
Fontella Bass - Soul of a Man
Fontella Bass - Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (Chuck Berry cover)
Fontella Bass - You'll Miss Me (When I'm Gone)
Freddie King - Palace of the King
Wilson Pickett - In The Midnight Hour
Ike & Tina Turner - A Fool in Love
Eddie Floyd - I'll Take Her
Barbara Lewis - Baby I'm Yours
Stevie Wonder - Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours
Aretha Franklin - Don't Play That Song (You Lied)
J.D. McPherson - North Side Gal
John Paul Keith & The One Four Fives - I Think I Fell In Love Today
Justin Townes Earle - Baby's Got A Bad Idea
Buddy Holly - Not Fade Away
Alabama Shakes - Be Mine
Craig Finn - No Future
Wanda Jackson - Tore Down
Langhorne Slim - Cinderella
David Bowie - Suffragette City
T. Rex - Baby Strange
The Jam - Art School
The Clash - Spanish Bombs
Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn'tve)
The Menzingers - I Was Born
Uncle Tupelo - Postcard
Black Flag - Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
Wire - Pink Flag
Morphine - Thursday
Big Black - Bad Penny
Fairweather - If They Move...Kill Them
Torche - Kicking
Title Tracks - Every Little Bit Hurts
Small Brown Bike/Casket Lottery - Under Pressure
Cory Chisel - Never Meant To Love You

* = Dings on the bell from the bartenders

Also see playlists for April 2012May 2012, July 2012, September 2012 and November 2012.

3 Minute Record presents the Best Albums of 2012

Today, it's time to share with our readers the 3 Minute Record Best Albums of 2012. Yesterday, we posted our first podcast in which we talked about our favorite albums of this year. In case you missed it, due to all the holiday food filling up your belly, please do us a favor be sure to check it out! (To download: Right Click (PC)/CTRL-Click (Mac) and then select Save Link As….)

Tonight, our staff will do our very best to spin many of these records and much more at The Royale from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. We hope you can join us for a pint or two at our favorite corner watering hole and listen to some of our favorite music from this year. Please - as the sign above indicates - just don't sit at the back table at 10 p.m.

So, without further pomp and circumstance here is our list. Enjoy!

Best of 2012


Lucero - Women and Work (ATO)
Hot Water Music - Exister (Rise)
Cory Branan - Mutt (Bloodshot)
Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes (Full Time Hobby)
Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten (Mercury)


Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls (ATO)
White Rabbits - Milk Famous (TBD)
Minus The Bear - Infinity Overhead (Dangerbird)
Blake Fleming - Time's Up (self-released)

Reissues: My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991 Creation / 2012 Sony)
Shiner - The Egg (2001 DeSoto / 2012 Son Of Man)
Archers Of Loaf - Vee Vee (1995 Alias / 2012 Merge)
Sugar - Copper Blue (1992 Ryko / 2012 Merge)
Codeine – Barely Real EP (1992 Sub Pop / 2012 The Numero Group)


Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory (Carpark)
Wanda Jackson - Unfinished Business (Sugar Hill)
Make Do and Mend - Everything You Ever Loved (Rise)
The Menzingers - On the Impossible Past (Epitaph)
Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)


Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball (Columbia)
Cat Power - Sun (Matador)
Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (Jagjaguwar)
Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe (XL Recordings)
Heartless Bastards - Arrow (Partisan Records)

Reissues: R.E.M. - Document [25th Anniversary Edition] (1987 I.R.S. / 2012 Capitol)
Peter Gabriel - So [25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] (1986 Geffen / 2012 Real World Productions)
The Velvet Underground & Nico - S/T [45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition] (1967 Verve / 2012 Polydor/UME)
Ryan Adams - Life After Deaf [Live Boxset] (PAXAM)
Cotton Mather - Kontiki (1997 Copper Records / 2012 Star Apple Kingdom)

Finally, feel free to take a look back at our 2011 Lists here - Bart / Jeff / Scott

Record Spin Playlist - November 2012

Nearly each month we are lucky enough to spin our vinyl and plug in our iPods for a few hours at The Royale in South St. Louis to provide the soundtrack for the evening. Here’s our playlist for November 2012.

Record Spin Playlist – The Royale, St. Louis, MO – 11/15/12 with Scott Allen, Bart Darnell, and Jeff Fields

Japandroids - The House That Heaven Built
Bob Mould - Star Machine
The Ramones - Rockaway Beach
Hot Snakes - LAX
Pylon - K
White Rabbits - Heavy Metal
AC Newman - I'm Not Talking
David Bazan - When We Fell
Cat Power - Sun
Now, Now - Prehistoric
Seam - Get Higher
Minus The Bear - Lies and Eyes
Grand Archives - Torn Blue Foam Couch
Brian Eno & David Byrne - Mea Culpa
Pink Floyd - Astronomy Domine
Blake Fleming - Street Corner Throwdown
Rockets - Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Rye Coalition - Paradise By The Marlboro Light
The Plimsouls - A Million Miles Away
The Beatles - I've Got A Feeling
Otis Redding - Satisfaction (Rolling Stones cover)
Alabama Shakes - Be Mine
William Bell - You Don't Miss Your Water
The Bottle Rockets - Come On
John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives - I Think I Fell In Love Today
J.D. McPherson - Wolf Teeth
Man In Black - Ringo Del Fuego
Old '97s - 4 Leaf Clover
Steve Earle - Sweet Little '66
Lucero - Juniper
Benjamin Gibbard/Jay Farrar - California Zephyr
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Even Heroes Have To Die
Russian Cirles - Re-Enter
Jimi Hendrix Experience - I Don't Live Today
June of 44 - Sanctioned in a Birdcage
Devo - Girl U Want
So Many Dynamos - New Bones
Patti Smith - Till Victory
Make Believe - Armscardic A
Ben Folds Five - Draw A Crowd
Jack White - I'm Shakin'
The Heavy - How You Like Me Now
Robert Plant and the Band of Joy - Angel Dance
The Supremes - Love Is Here and Now You're Gone
Edwin Starr - 25 Miles
Little Milton - Grits Ain't Groceries
Jimmy Castor Bunch - Sad Leroy
Herbie Hancock - Hang Up Your Hang Ups
Meters - Funky Miracle
Stevie Wonder - Maybe Your Baby
DAG - Sweet Little Lass

Also see playlists for April 2012May 2012, July 2012, and September 2012.

Record Spin Playlist - September 2012

Nearly each month we are lucky enough to spin our vinyl and plug in our iPods for a few hours at The Royale in South St. Louis to provide the soundtrack for the evening. Here’s our playlist for December 2012.

Record Spin Playlist – The Royale, St. Louis, MO – 9/27/12 with Scott Allen, Bart Darnell and Jeff Fields

Alejandro Escovedo - Chelsea Hotel '78
Drive-By Truckers - Self Destructive Zones
Willie Nelson - Cowboys are Frequently Fond of Each Other
Wanda Jackson - California Stars (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover)
Justin Townes Earle - Can't Hardly Wait (The Replacements cover)
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, and Yim Yames - No Fear
Robyn Hitchcock - All I Wanna Do is Fall in Love
Lucero - She's Just That Kind of Girl
The Stone Roses - Love Spreads
The Black Keys - Money Maker
AC/DC - Rocker
Drive Like Jehu - Golden Brown
Jawbreaker - Do You Still Hate Me?
Hot Water Music - It's Hard To Know
Quicksand - Omission
Japandroids - Continuous Thunder
Triple Fast Action - American City World
Minus The Bear - Lies & Eyes
R.E.M. - It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Dramarama - Don't Feel Like Doing Drugs
Foo Fighters - Dear Rosemary
The dB's - That Time Is Gone
The Hold Steady - Most People Are DJs
Archers of Loaf - Harnessed In Slums
Superchunk - Why Do You Have To Put A Date On Everything
Mercy Rule - Hey Now
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead - It Was There I Saw You
The Breeders - Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Beatles cover)
Braid - Do You Love Coffee?
Shiner - The Egg
Joe Jackson - Happy Loving Couple
Madness - House of Fun
The Hives - Hate To Say I Told You So
Teenage Fanclub - About You
Fig Dish - Pretty Never Hurts
Sunny Day Real Estate - 8
The Replacements - Bastards of Young
Two Cow Garage - Skinny Legged Girl
The Jesus Lizard - Dancing Naked Ladies
The Stooges - Real Cool Time
Kentucky Knife Fight - Misshapen Love
White Rabbits - Percussion Gun
Sam & Dave - Broke Down Piece of Man
Ray Charles - Shake Your Tail Feather
Dr. John - Revolution
Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels - Little Latin Lupe Lu
John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives - Anyone Can Do It
Black Joe Lewis - Living In The Jungle
Jackie Wilson - I Get The Sweetest Feeling
Amy LaVere - Candle Mambo (Captain Beefheart cover)
Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - Tramp
Ben E. King - Stand By Me
Bob Dylan - Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You
The Band - The Weight
Percy Sledge - When A Man Loves A Woman
Bruce Springsteen - Blinded By The Light
Ryan Adams - Nutshell (Alice In Chains cover)
The Bulletproof Tiger - Our Band Name Sucks
Junior Battles - Seventeen

Also see playlists for April 2012May 2012 and July 2012

Record Spin Playlist - July 2012

Nearly each month we are lucky enough to spin our vinyl and plug in our iPods for a few hours at The Royale in South St. Louis to provide the soundtrack for the evening. Here’s our playlist for July 2012.

Record Spin Playlist – The Royale, St. Louis, MO – 7/26/12 with Scott Allen, Bart Darnell and Jeff Fields

North Side Gal – J.D. McPherson
Green Onions – King Curtis
Boss of the Blues – Dave Alvin
Bitch, I Love You – Black Joe Lewis
How Does It Feel – Bob Dylan
40 Miler – Tim Barry
Heavy Chevy – Alabama Shakes
Brand New Cadillac – The Clash *
Never Could Say No – John Paul Keith & the 145’s
Kate – Ben Folds Five *
Ob-la-di Ob-la-da – The Beatles
Mama’s Pearl – Robbie Fulks
50ft. Queenie – PJ Harvey
Never Talking to You Again – Husker Du
Good Enough For Rock n’ Roll – Chuck Ragan
The Rover – Led Zeppelin
Castanets – Alejandro Escovedo
Lonely Is a Town – Glossary
Emerald – Thin Lizzy
Badlands – Bruce Springsteen
45 – Gaslight Anthem
Superstition – Stevie Wonder
Goin’ Back to Cali – LL Cool J
Coochie – BlakRoc
Peter Piper – RUN DMC
Paul Revere – Beastie Boys
Oh My God! – A Tribe Called Quest
I’m With You – Sam & Dave
Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) – Otis Redding
25 Miles – Edwin Starr
Shotgun – Junior Walker & the All-Stars
Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
Red Headed Stepchild – Golden Smog
In My Mind – Johnny Polonsky
Just – Radiohead *
So. Central Rain – R.E.M.
The Plan – Built to Spill *
Bull Black Nova – Wilco
Kizza Me – Big Star
Behold the Hurricane – Horrible Crowes
Bug Stomp – Piglet
Never Will Come For Us – Braid
No Division – Hot Water Music
Fire’s Highway – Japandroids
Southtown Girls – Hold Steady
Bikeriders – Lucero
Blue Blood Blues – The Dead Weather
Money Maker – The Black Keys
No Surrender – Two Cow Garage

* = Dings on the bell from the bartenders

Also see playlists for April 2012 and May 2012.

Record Spin Playlist - May 2012

Nearly each month we are lucky enough to spin our vinyl and plug in our iPods for a few hours at The Royale in South St. Louis to provide the soundtrack for the evening. Here’s our playlist for May 2012.

Record Spin Playlist – The Royale, St. Louis, MO – 5/30/12 with Scott Allen, Bart Darnell and Jeff Fields

Trouble Won’t Last Always – Glossary
You’re So Fine – Wilson Pickett
Rise to the Sun – Alabama Shakes
Centreville – Lee Baines III & the Glory Fires
Like Lightning – Lucero
Nights of Wine and Roses – Japandroids
Mainline – Hot Water Music
Southtown Girls – Hold Steady *
Hey Jane – Spiritualized
Feel the Pain – Dinosaur Jr. *
Just Like Heaven – The Cure
Shrine – Dambuilders
Movie Star – Cracker
Castanets – Alejandro Escovedo
Graveyard Shift – Uncle Tupelo
I’ll Be Coming Around – Bottle Rockets
Spinning Wheel – John Henry & the Engine
Debra – Beck
Sunshine – Atmosphere
My Adidas – RUN DMC
Doowatchyalike – Digital Underground
Magic Number – De La Soul
Can’t Be Still – Booker T & the M.G.’s
Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder
Funky Miracle – The Meters
She’ll Dance to Anything – John Paul Keith
Stuck in the Middle With You – Stealer’s Wheel
Whole Lotta Love – King Curtis
Cut Like a Buffalo – Dead Weather
Bad Ass Fucker – Muckafurgason
Run to You – Lou Barlow
Cut Your Hair – Pavement
Game of Pricks – Jimmy Eat World
Terminal Void – Bunnygrunt
Straight American Slave – Rocket From the Crypt
Forever Got Shorter – Braid
For Apples – Casket Lottery
I Believe in a Thing Called Love – The Darkness *
Yesterday (Circa Summer 80 Somethin) – Corey Branan
Dark Side – Eddie and the Cruisers
Bang a Gong – T.Rex *
No Future – Craig Finn
Wasted Time – Kings of Leon
No, Not Now – Hot Hot Heat
Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go Go’s
Heroes – David Bowie
Spanish Bombs – The Clash
Radio Radio – Elvis Costello *
On the DL – Caviar
Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys *
Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting – Elton John
Rosie – Bruce Springsteen
No Matter What – Badfinger
Pattern Against User – At the Drive In *
Trusty Chords – Hot Water Music *
Love – Poster Children
The Pod – Hum
Love Gun – Kiss *
Raspberry Beret – The Derailers
Six Days on the Road – Dave Dudley
Gimme Little Sign – Brenton Wood

* = Dings on the bell from the bartenders

Record Spin Playlist - April 2012

Nearly each month we are lucky enough to spin our vinyl and plug in our iPods for a few hours at The Royale in South St. Louis to provide the soundtrack for the evening. Here's our playlist for April 2012.

Record Spin Playlist - The Royale, St. Louis, MO - 4/26/12 with Scott Allen and Bart Darnell

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) – Otis Redding
Look Out Cleveland – The Band
634-5789 – Wilson Pickett
Lookin’ For a Thrill – John Paul Keith & the 145’s
(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes – Elvis Costello
So You Think You’re in Love – Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians
Lawyers, Guns & Money – Warren Zevon
She’s the One (Live) – Bruce Springsteen
Not Fade Away – Buddy Holly
Big River – Johnny Cash & the Tennessee Two
Dang Me – Roger Miller
Can’t Hardly Wait – Justin Townes Earle
Kiss the Bottle – Lucero
Baba O’Reilly – The Waco Brothers
Rocket Man – Me First & the Gimme Gimme’s *
Rockaway Beach – The Ramones
True Believers – Hot Water Music
A More Perfect Union – Titus Andronicus
Punk Rock Girl – The Dead Milkmen *
Greek Town’s in Flames – The Starkweathers
Never Kissed a Girl – Woodbox Gang
Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival *
Squeezebox – The Who *
Dixie Chicken – Little Feat
Down Home Girl – Rolling Stones
Satisfaction – Otis Redding
Roll Over Beethoven – Chuck Berry
Let Them Knock – Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
I Need You Baby – Jesse James
Groove Me – King Floyd
Baby’s Got Sauce – G Love & Special Sauce *
Cold Sweat – James Brown *
Magic Number – De La Soul
Peter Piper – RUN DMC *
Say Shhh – Atmosphere *
Just Aint Gonna Work Out – Mayer Hawthorne
Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed
Mr. & Mrs. Untrue – Candi Staton
Keep It Coming – Glossary
Driver 8 – R.E.M.
The Wanton Song – Led Zeppelin *
Guitar Man Upstairs – Drive By Truckers
Southern Girls – Cheap Trick
Glad Girls – Guided By Voices
American Girl – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Cleveland Rocks – Presidents of the United States of America
Do Anything You Wanna Do – Eddie & the Hot Rods
Pretty Never Hurts – Fig Dish
Light Sleepers – Title Tracks
Bottled Up in Cork – Ted Leo
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
Ocean – Sebadoh *
Spanish Bombs – The Clash
Green – Suicide Machines
Mean to Me – Ben Kweller
Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard – Me First & the Gimme Gimme’s
Yakety Sax – Boots Randolph

* = Dings on the bell from the bartenders

Part of something big: How Uncle Tupelo shaped the musical landscape [Recollection]

By Robin Wheeler 

My name is nothing extra, but the truth to you I tell. I am a coal miner and I'm sure I wish you well - "Coalminers" by Uncle Tupelo

I remember the first time I heard of Uncle Tupelo. Freshman year at the University of Missouri in the autumn of 1991, sitting in my dorm room with an old friend from my tiny hometown, listening to him bitch because the skirt he was chasing was making him go to an Uncle Tupelo show.

"I hate that country shit," he snarled.

Two months earlier, I would have said the same thing. Growing up in rural west-central Missouri, country music's de rigueur, and we had both had our fill. Making a rural escape with Nirvana and Pearl Jam as the soundtrack, there was no excuse to ever hear another word sung about the working class, whiskey bottles, and coal.

Except that's what I wanted.

I blazed out of my hometown as fast as possible, only to return weekly for the first two months to spend time with my dying grandmother. Being in the new environment I'd craved for years, only to be dragged away to experience a lingering, horrific death. Unable to jump into my new life while watching an old life end.

Most days I just wanted to go home, and nothing felt more like home than country music. Through the privacy of my headphones I'd sneak listens to the local country stations in between my public blastings of the Pixies and the Replacements that led to lots of unpleasant visits from my dorm's RA.

Based solely on my friend's ire and my acute craving for country, I started keeping an ear out for Uncle Tupelo. Three guys from a small town in Illinois that seemed a hell of a lot like the town I'd left, playing not country, but country infused with flavors of the punk artists just coming onto my radar - Iggy Pop, The Clash.

These guys were me.

So I sought them out, which wasn't difficult. Columbia, Missouri is only two hours from Belleville, Illinois, so it was well in UT's touring range. They were "local" to me. So imagine my surprise when I started seeing the band in Rolling Stone.

Something big was happening. Something big, and I was a part of it. On the edge, but clinging to it. R.E.M's Peter Buck was recording with them. And just like that, I'm connected to one of the first bands that caught my attention, showed me that there was more to music than what TV and radio stations from Kansas City fed me.

Being a country kid no longer meant tacky flash and sequins. It wasn't oversized cowboy hats and slick production that didn't sound much different from pop music. This was the first time since realizing Bruce Springsteen was singing about my blue-collar, industrial people did I really feel like an artist was articulating my experience. And they did it by taking the music beloved by my dying grandmother and blending it with the music that had started speaking to me.

I can't say I remember buying March 16-20, 1992. I just know it's always been in my record collection in one form or another, along with everything recorded by everyone on the album. It's been a part of my life's fabric since it arrived. It wasn't my favorite Uncle Tupelo album at the time, since it was so country. When they were new, "Anodyne" was the album that spoke to me the most.

I do remember a different day of record-shopping. In mid-October, 1994 - a week before my 23rd birthday - I bought three albums. Wilco's A.M.,Son Volt's Trace, and the Bottle Rockets' The Brooklyn Side. All three were début albums from bands fronted by Uncle Tupelo members who'd been a part of the March 16-20, 1992 sessions. A Sunday afternoon and feeling more comfortable in my skin than I was when I first heard about "that country shit," I sat in my car, ripping the cellophane from the CDs all at once. Enveloped in the new CD smell, I flipped through the liner notes, looking for familiarity. And it was there.

This is my music. It's about me. It's about the same experiences I've had. The same fears I've known. The same place that bore me.

Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt and the Bottle Rockets have remained huge parts of my listening life for the past twenty years. In them, I can hear my own evolution as a person. I don't know if the songs mirror me or if I mirror them. I don't care.

Belleville postcard
Belleville postcard

Funny thing: in 2007 my husband and I decided to move to Belleville, Illinois. We'd been in the St. Louis area for eight years and weren't happy with our neighborhood. After a lot of research we decided Belleville offered everything we wanted - excellent schools, easy accessibility to St. Louis, affordable housing, and a sense of independence and quirkiness that suited our weird family.

It's taken five years for friends to stop accusing me of moving to Belleville because of Uncle Tupelo. It's the school, the cute 1920s brick bungalows, and the art festival. Really! The fact that the streets run with Stag Beer is an added bonus.

I would be lying, though, if I said I don't feel the impact of the history that happened in my backyard. There are Tweedys and Farrars living in my neighborhood, and people who were a part of the same music scene that produced them. We have kids in the same school, buy our milk from the same corner market and have dinner at the same restaurant while we wave to one another from our cars on America's longest Main Street.

Try walking past the fountain in Belleville's town square without singing "New Madrid" under your breath. Go on. I dare you. It can't be done.

We didn't get the house we originally wanted to buy five years ago, and it's just as well. That house is slowly slipping into one of the abandoned coal mines that litter subterranean Belleville from the days when residents would illegally dig into the black veins below the town in hopes of finding a way out of financial ruin.

All those years I'd snickered about Farrar's fixation with coal miners, ignorant to the fact that he knew what he was talking about. Every word true.

I see the relevance daily. Hear it in the stories from my Belleville friends and neighbors who were there, too. In 1992 I had no idea how many of my peers were also touched by the collision of divergent musical worlds brought forth by one little band from a little town. I thought it was just me. But now, we have a tribe. It includes our families and children, our community, and runs like a coal vein through our lives. Rich and deep, the place we mine for what's most important: who we are and where we came from.

How one album can change your life: Remembering March 16-20, 1992 by Uncle Tupelo [Recollection]

Editor's Note: 20 years ago today, the three members of Uncle Tupelo stepped into John Keane Studios in Athens, GA to begin recording their third album with producer Peter Buck, best known as the guitarist for R.E.M. Five days later they had a finished record. Over the next few days the owners of 3 Minute Record will give our thoughts on how that album changed our musical landscape. - Scott

Gimme back that year, good or bad. Gimme back something that I never knew I had. - "That Year" by Uncle Tupelo

I remember the evening vividly. A typical hot, sticky August night in St. Louis. I picked up my longtime friend Steve Kuhlman in my 1968 Chevrolet Camaro and we drove to the Granite City location (R.I.P.) of Vintage Vinyl to look for some new records. Little did I realize that one particular trip would be etched in my brain 20 years later.

In August 1992, I was a recent high school graduate of Collinsville High School just hanging out with friends and counting the days before I moved away to the University of Missouri - Columbia to begin my college education. The act of going to a record store was nothing new. I'd been doing this for years frequenting a store called the Record Company at their locations in Glen Carbon and Granite City as well as the chain stores in the mall. However, during my junior and senior years of high school I started attending shows at clubs on the Landing in St. Louis. Places like Mississippi Nights, Kennedy's and the Bernard Pub opened up a new world of possibilities to me about music. Up until this time I was content to buy records and listen to music in my room or on my Walkman. With a driver's license, a car and a little knowledge, my universe began to expand as rapidly as I was driving that V8 engine.

Now, armed with what felt like secret knowledge, I went out on the weekends to see national touring acts as well as local bands. I dug through the pages of the Riverfront Times, still owned by founder Ray Hartmann, in the constant search of new venues and new artists. Here I learned about the local music scene and started following bands like Pale Divine, Three Merry Widows and The Finn's.

While looking around the store that summer night, I stumbled upon the recently released album, March 16-20, 1992, by Belleville based band, Uncle Tupelo. Excited, I bought the new release ready to hear what it had in store. After leaving the record store that evening we headed back to my parents' house to shoot some pool on my parent's pool table. At the time, I had a new JVC dual CD/dual cassette boom box that I had received as a high school graduation present, which I left downstairs to listen to music. I removed the shrink-wrap to open up the compact disc to play. The first thing I noticed was the stark artwork; a modern twist on those early '60s records. Second, I was excited to see guitarist Peter Buck, of my favorite band R.E.M., had worked with a band as producer.  

At the time I purchased the albumI already owned the band's first two records, No Depression and Still Feel Gone, andI had seen them perform live a few times at Mississippi Nights. Early Uncle Tupelo shows were a dichotomy of power and energy mixed with slow, country balladry. They exuded a punk vibe carried over from their unique blend of the post-punk of Hüsker Dü, Minutemen and Black Flag and country music. However, as I listened to the new record, it became abundantly clear that Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidhorn had intentionally made a drastic change in course. This new batch of songs was completely different from much of their early material.

During the previous couple of years I had already begun a fascination with folk music, specifically the work of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. However, March 16-20, 1992 marked a distinct turning point in the development of my musical tastes as a listener and a fan. While Nirvana had shaken the apples off the tree in a fit of raw power, Uncle Tupelo, however, took a decidedly different course. In an anti-establishment turn, which now we realize Jay Farrar is wont to do, the band eschewed the current sound for one that had been pushed to the fringe decades before. For many fans, Uncle Tupelo's blend of country, rock, and punk served as the same type of touchstone in indie circles as Nirvana and the Seattle music scene had for mainstream rock. Yet, on March 16-20, 1992, the band focused completely on the country and folk side of their music and helped launch what began to be referred to as "Alternative Country" and eventually "No Depression" after their first album.

My first inclination that something was radically different from their other work - the album is almost entirely acoustic. Yes, they had performed acoustic country music in the past as they had included covers of the Carter Family classic "No Depression" and Leadbelly's "John Hardy." However, the songs included on the latest record were haunting, politically charged ballads that spoke to the state of the working class in the early '90s - a place that Farrar and Tweedy knew all too well from their upbringing.

The album's liner notes revealed that there were 8 original songs flanked by 7 covers. One song I recognized was the traditional song,"Moonshiner," which I knew from the Bob Dylan box set, The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 Rare and Unreleased 1961-1991 released just the year before. The other cover songs completely changed my perspective on country and folk music, for example, "The Great Atomic Power" by the Louvin Brothers and "Come All You Coalminers" by Sarah Ogan Gunning.

Furthermore, I was impressed how well the original songs crafted for the album blended perfectly with the older material. Tweedy chipped in with three outstanding originals - the bouncy upbeat folk of "Wait Up" with its heartbreaking lyrics about love going bad, the gorgeous ballad "Black Eye" and the solemn "Fatal Wound," a song with as much, if not more, power as their classic "Whiskey Bottle." It's Farrar's contributions to the record, however, "Grindstone," "Criminals," "Shaky Ground" and "Wipe The Clock," paired with his readings of the covers and traditional material that give the project its depth and authenticity.  In a future foretold, Farrar continued in his post-Tupelo career, with both Son Volt and his solo material, to follow the path set forth on this record. Whereas with Wilco, Tweedy followed a more commercial road that brought him the success, fame and indie credentials he seemed to covet.

That Fall, while at the University of Missouri, I volunteered to work at student-run radio station 88.1 KCOU. I started my training and eventually got on the air for a couple of shifts in the 2-6 a.m. slot. To this day I still have a cassette tape of one of the shows that started with playing the Uncle Tupelo original instrumental, "Sandusky," followed by Woody Guthrie's "Grand Coulee Dam." When the music exemplifies a certain classic quality the new and the old blend seamlessly together and artists become intrinsically linked across generations. For me, classic country and folk music became another genre to dig into with the same ferocity as rock, soul and rhythm and blues. All it took were a trio of musicians from a couple of towns over and just a few years older than I to give me an introduction.