Produced by R.E.M.
's Peter Buck
, March 16-20, 1992
represents Uncle Tupelo
's full evolution into a true country unit; with the exception of the eerie squalls of guitar feedback which haunt Jeff Tweedy
's mesmerizing "Wait Up," there's virtually no evidence of the trio's punk heritage. Instead, the all-acoustic album -- a combination of Tupelo
originals and well-chosen traditional songs -- taps into the very essence of backwoods culture, its music rooted in the darkest corners of Appalachian life. An inescapable sense of dread grips this collection, from the large-scale threat depicted in the stunning rendition of the Louvin Brothers
' "The Great Atomic Power" to the fatalism of the worker anthems "Grindstone" and "Coalminers"; even the character studies, including a revelatory "Moonshiner," are relentlessly grim. A vivid glimpse at the harsh realities of rural existence, March 16-20, 1992
is a brilliant resurrection of a bygone era of American folk artistry.