Cicero's Basement Bar, St. Louis, MO
November 17, 1990
*Uncle Tupelo Upgrade Series, Vol. 6*
Source: Audio Technica Stereo mic > Sony D6 cassette
Transfer: Master cassette > Teac A-103 > AD1000 > DA-P1 (DAT); DAT clone(1) > Marantz 510CDR(1) > EAC > TLH (FLAC Level 8)
Taped by ??, transferred to DAT by Steve Brothers, transferred from DAT my mrpember
02- Punch Drunk
03- Watch Me Fall
06- Looking For A Way Out (fast "There Was a Time" version)
09- Little Guitars [Van Halen cover]
10- Wasn't Born to Follow [Byrds cover]
11- Sauget Wind
12- D. Boon
13- Life Worth Livin'
16- That Year
17- Atomic Power [Louvin Brothers cover]
18- In the Street [Big Star cover]
19- True to Life
21- Fortunate Son [CCR cover]
22- Willin' [Little Feat cover]
23- Living After Midnight [snippet, Judas Priest cover]
24- "t-shirt song"
25- Yer Blues [snippet, Beatles cover]
26- Band on the Run [snippet, Paul McCartney & Wings cover]
27- Before I Break
28- Streets of Bakersfield [Buck Owens cover]
29- Chimes of Freedom [snippet, Bob Dylan cover]
30- Cortez the Killer [Neil Young cover, very end only; also a snippet of "the greatest heavy metal song ever written" sung by Brian Henneman]
31- Graveyard Shift
32- Cocaine Blues [Johnny Cash cover]
Jay Farrar: guitar, harmonica, vocals
Jeff Tweedy: bass, vocals
Mike Heidorn: drums
Brian Henneman: unfortunately brief guitar and "vocals" on track 30
The purpose of the Uncle Tupelo Upgrade Series is to circulate live recordings of Uncle Tupelo and related bands with known lineages, focusing on recordings taken directly from masters or from the cleanest, lowest generation copies available. Some are shows that have circulated online for years with unknown or incorrect lineages and others are shows that have not been widely circulated in the file-sharing era. I will share any information I have regarding the recordings, as well as any features of the shows themselves that make them special to me.
Vol. 6 is a show that was just over a year after the show from the same venue included as Vol. 5 of this series, it was the second night of a two night stand at Cicero's Basement Bar. Cicero's was their homebase in their early years, and as best as I can tell this was their last regular headlining show there before they moved on to the much larger Mississippi Nights for their hometown shows, though they would still play at Cicero's quite a few times as Coffee Creek (with Brian Henneman) and the occasional odd opening set for friends.
NOTES ON THE RECORDING
This show was "rescued from obscurity" (as he put in) in 2003 by my friend and fellow taper Steve Brothers. It circulated some on DAT but trading was kind of fading out around then, and I don't think it ever made it to any file sharing sites.
Unfortunately I don't know much about the details of the recording except the equipment that was used...and that it is WAY better than it has any right to be. Cicero's was a tiny bar in the basement of a pizza place, the ceiling was maybe 8 feet high, and for crowded shows like this people packed up close to the stage that was raised maybe a foot off the floor. How this taper could get an audience tape this clear, with this little crowd noise, on what had to have been a packed Saturday night show, is beyond me. But I'm very glad they did. It almost sounds like they mounted the mic on or very close to one of the PA speakers, but at times you can hear phasing from the mic moving so I don't think it was mounted. Maybe he had help from the sound engineer, it could be a matrix, but I think the taper would have mentioned that when loaning the master to my friend to transfer.
NOTES ON THE SHOW
The first thing that strikes me about this show is that it was only 5 months after the release of their first album NO DEPRESSION, but it contains five new songs right out of the gate and altogether has 9 of the 13 songs from their second album STILL FEEL GONE. That second record wouldn't come out for almost 10 months, and Jeff Tweedy said around that time that because they were getting bored playing the songs NO DEPRESSION when it came out and then getting bored playing the songs on STILL FEEL GONE when it came out that they decided that moving forward they weren't going to play new songs live until they were released. They pretty much stuck to that.
The early versions of the STILL FEEL GONE songs are really interesting. "Punch Drunk" is pretty much all there as far as the music and arrangement but some of the lyrics were different. "Postcard" is mostly done but doesn't have the power it will have just a few months later. These are the earliest live versions known of "Gun" (one of Jeff's all-time classic songs) and "Discarded," both have some slight lyrically variations and don't feel quite done. "Looking For a Way Out" was still the fast "There Was a Time" version before it was slowed down for the album.
Then there are the covers! Some are songs they played quite a bit in the early days ("Wasn't Born to Follow" is a big favorite of mine), and there were also a bunch of off-the-cuff stuff that was one of the things that made the band so much fun to see back then. Lots of snippets, not all of them are included on the setlist above so you can find them yourself, I tracked those that went on for at least a minute. Obviously they were very relaxed and loose playing at home. Please, PLEASE, do not miss Brian Henneman's brief vocal performance on the greatest heavy metal song ever written at the end of track 30.
Speaking of track 30, after a tape flip we hear the very end of "Cortez the Killer." They played this a good bit, always when Brian was with them, but there is an odd curse regarding live recordings of this song. Here we hear just the very last bit, and on a well-circulated recording from a few weeks later at the Blue Note in Columbia the tape cut during the first verse. There are one or two complete versions that made it to tape but the sound quality on them is rough. So if anyone out there has a good, complete version of UT doing "Cortez" with Brian, PLEASE let me know.
mrpember, November 2020