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  Listen Up! 9/23/03 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Sept. 23

Various Artists, “For Anyone That’s Listening: A Tribute to Uncle Tupelo,” Flat Earth Records. Let us praise the idea, if not the execution. Most of the people on this tribute album are completely unknown to me, and most of the unknowns are completely timid, afraid to let their personalities overwhelm the songs. But, personality is essential when interpreting Uncle Tupelo material. In fact, with the exception of a few songs – “Graveyard Shift,” “Whiskey Bottle,” “Gun” – personality is pretty much 95% of the reason to listen to those guys in the first place. The known acts – Peter Holsapple, Porter Hall, Tn., and especially Dolly Varden – have no problem turning these songs which relied so much on the quirks and idiosyncrasies of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Mike Heidorn into something that sounds like their own work. The rest just run through the material, straightening out the notes and rhythms which Uncle Tupelo bent to their own expressive abilities. I’ll tell you what, though, “Steal the Crumbs” by Dolly Varden could be worth the price of admission, alone.

--Steve Pick

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