Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC
February 16, 1994
*Uncle Tupelo Upgrade Series, Vol. 17*
Source 1: CSB mics (battery box) clipped on glasses, centered 20 feet from the stage > Denon DTR-80P (DAT, 16/48)
Transfer: Master DAT > Tascam DA-20 > M-Audio Audiophile USB > PC > Wavelab 5.0 > Izotope RX7 (small edits, light EQ, normalization)
Taped by mrpember
Source 2: unknown mic on hat, directly in front of left PA speaker > Sony TCD-D3 (DAT, 16/48)
Transfer: Clone of master DAT(1) > Tascam DA-20 > M-Audio Audiophile USB > PC > Wavelab 5.0 > Izotope RX7 (small edits, de-phasing, light EQ, normalization)
Taped by Norwood
Sources synched / mixed and final edits made in Audacity > CD Wave Editor (tracking) > TLH > FLAC (8)
Both sources transferred and mixed by mrpember
This is a 16/48 recording
02- Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down [traditional]
04- Watch Me Fall
05- Fifteen Keys
06- The Long Cut
08- New Madrid
10- Atomic Power [Louvin Brothers cover]
11- Looking For a Way Out
13- High Water
15- True to Life
16- We've Been Had
17- Give Back the Key to My Heart [Doug Sahm cover]
19- Everybody Knows This is Nowhere [Neil Young cover]
20- Willin' [Little Feat cover]
21- Truck Drivin' Man [Terry Fell cover]
Total time: 81:19
Jay Farrar: guitar, harmonica, mandolin, vocals
Jeff Tweedy: bass, guitar, vocals
Ken Coomer: drums
John Stirrat: bass, guitar, vocals
Max Johnston: mandolin, fiddle, banjo, dobro, lap steel
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.
In this series I've tried to focus on what I see as the high points in the band's career, but this volume finds the band at maybe their very lowest moment. According to all involved, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy got into a shouting match after this show that nearly turned physical, the reason being that Jay wasn't singing on Jeff's songs. Is that historical record accurate? You can listen for yourself.
NOTES ON THE RECORDING
This was a big night for me personally; not only was I going to see one of my favorite bands for the first time in three years (last time was 1991-02-16 in columbia which was Volume 4 in this series), but their coming to town inspired me to finally start recording shows. I'd been trading tapes since 1988 but Uncle Tupelo and Joe Henry on this night were the first shows I ever taped myself. Like many things it is a bit tough to get this right the first time, and my centered spot about 20 feet from the stage made for a nice wide soundscape but the vocals were quite distant and the low end was very prominent and rumbly.
Not long after this show I met Norwood who became a regular taping partner over the next five years, and found that he had also taped this show. He had a thin wire-like microphone (I forget the make / model) on a hat, and he was right in front of the left PA speaker. His recording is trebly and a bit shrill / harsh, and there is a lot of phasing from when he would turn his head that close to the sound source, but the vocals were really clear, almost like on a board tape.
Many times over the years I've thought that a mix of the two recordings would be an improvement, and with the anniversary of the show coming up I finally decided to give it a shot. I'm by no means an expert at this and it is by no means perfect but I do think it sounds better than either of the original sources. The phasing is still there at times, this recording is a bit more "forgiving" through speakers than headphones. The sound improves as the show goes along.
NOTES ON THE SHOW
The backstory is well-known, Jay and Jeff's relationship had frayed to the point where Jay decided in late 1993 that he was going to leave Uncle Tupelo. They had borrowed a good bit of money from their manager so Jay agreed to do one last tour so that they could pay him back. This show was about two weeks into the tour, which by all accounts was more than a little tense. I remember this show very clearly, starting with being really shocked at the size of their tour bus (!) parked outside the venue. I had only seen the original 3-piece lineup so I knew this would be a very different experience, but I was really floored at how detached Jay seemed. He was never Springsteen or Iggy onstage but at this show he was nearly immobile. It felt like a 4-piece band playing together with Jay as an extra guy onstage...which is exactly what it was though we didn't know it at the time. Word of the upcoming breakup leaked a few weeks later.
There were still some really good moments in the show, and I remember thinking that Jay had become a much better singer and Jeff was way more confident than when I last saw them. I came to them from the indie / punk side and I wasn't quite sold on the "country rock" vibe of ANODYNE or this show, though listening back now this version of the band rocked pretty hard when they wanted to.
So...does the recording verify that Jay wasn't singing on Jeff's songs? You can listen for yourself, but I think it comes down to whether "making vocal utterances" is considered "singing." I don't hear any place where Jay wasn't singing when he was supposed to on Jeff's songs, but his vocals are very faint and there is no question that his heart wasn't in it.
In case anyone is curious, no, I didn't see their altercation after the show. I didn't even know about it until a journalist friend asked me about it 10 years later.
mrpember, February 2021