As the result of long-simmering conflict between co-leaders Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar, pioneering alternative country outfit Uncle Tupelo called it quits after touring in support of their (still amazing) 1993 release “Anondyne.” Tweedy went on to form Wilco, while Farrar continued to make music in Son Volt. Son Volt’s 1995 debut album “Trace” was a masterpiece and still holds up two decades later.
The folks at Rhino are celebrating “Trace” — and introducing it to a new generation of listeners — with the release of a two-CD 20th anniversary edition. With audio that has been digitally remastered, plus a boatload of bonus tracks and goodies, the expanded version of “Trace” is well worth the upgrade.
Disc 1 features the original 11-track platter — highlighted by jaw-droppingly good cuts “Windfall,” “Live Free,” “Drown,” “Catching On” and “Too Early” — plus eight previously unreleased album track demo recordings. The acoustic demo of “Route” is terrific, as are the early versions of “Drown,” “Too Early” and “Windfall.”
Disc 2 is the real find here. It features a previously unreleased concert, recorded in February 1996 at The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village. Farrar and Son Volt work their way through an impressive 18-track set that includes many of the “Trace” tunes, as well as some Uncle Tupelo cuts (“Slate,” “True to Life,” “Anodyne”) and a cover of Del Reeves’ “Looking at the World Through a Windshield.” Highly recommended. (Jeffrey Sisk)