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A Retrospective: 1995-2000

Son Volt

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Album Review

The seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo seemed poised on the verge of a major commercial breakthrough in 1994 when, to the surprise of many (including his bandmates), Jay Farrar quit the band to form Son Volt, in which he wouldn't have to share his creative vision with another songwriter. Son Volt's first album, 1995's Trace, was a beautiful and striking set of songs whose emotional power and soulful resonance suggested Farrar had made a shrewd choice in going out on his own. Then a funny thing happened — Son Volt made two more albums that were solid and heartfelt but nowhere near as satisfying as Trace, and in 2000 Farrar put the group on hiatus, preferring to record and tour under his own name with a shifting set of musicians. In whittling Son Volt's history down to one disc and 20 songs, one might expect that A Retrospective: 1995-2000 would play to the genuine strengths of their body of work, but instead this compilation does as much to point to the group's flaws. A Retrospective peaks with its first four tracks — three songs from Trace and a duet with Kelly Willis on Townes Van Zandt's "Rex's Blues," recorded for a benefit compilation. From that point on, much as Son Volt's second album got stuck in a mid-tempo rut that it never quite escaped, A Retrospective captures the sound of Farrar calling up the same beautifully sad late night vibe over and over again, with only the occasional rocker happening along to break the monotony (and anyone who saw Son Volt live knows they were a band who could rock out powerfully when the mood struck them) and Mike Heidorn, Jim Boquist, and Dave Boquist struggling to add weight and muscle to Farrar's increasingly similar songs. Fans will doubtless be drawn by the wealth of rare and unreleased material included (including a pair of home-recorded demos, some hard to find covers, and live radio recordings), but while there are a few glorious moments on A Retrospective, too much of this collection captures the sound of a major artist stuck in third gear, and that's certainly not the way this disc needed to sound. (Ironically, a new Son Volt album, Okemah and the Melody of Riot, was released two months after this compilation appeared, though Farrar was the only member of the original lineup to participate in Son Volt 2.0.)

Customer Reviews

look at all of kyle becks reviews

i wish i could fight Kyle Beck.

Good Country is right.

I thank the boys from Uncle Tupelo for all of their great music. Kyle Beck is in need of a beating.

This Album Keeps Country Alive

This is an amazing album that captures the aspect of Sonvolt in the past. Allthough it is missing their two new albums Okimah and the Melody of Riot as well as The Search. It stills shows off the talents of Son Volt and keeps the destroyed name of country alive so it may limp on until Son Volt realeases their final Greatest Hits album.

Biography

Formed: 1994 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

After touring in support of their 1993 masterpiece, Anodyne, the seminal alternative country band Uncle Tupelo split up over long-simmering creative differences between co-leaders Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy recruited much of the band to form Wilco, while Farrar teamed up with original Tupelo drummer Mike Heidorn to form Son Volt, the more tradition-minded of the two Tupelo offshoots. Joined by brothers Jim (bass) and Dave Boquist (guitar, fiddle, banjo, fiddle, steel guitar), the band signed...
Full Bio
A Retrospective: 1995-2000, Son Volt
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