A Retrospective: 1995-2000

A Retrospective: 1995-2000

by Son VoltSon Volt


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The seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo seemed poised on the verge of a major commercial breakthrough in 1994 when, to the surprise of many (including his bandmates), Jay Farrar quit the band to form Son Volt, in which he wouldn't have to share his creative vision with another songwriter. Son Volt's first album, 1995's Trace, was a beautiful and striking set of songs whose emotional power and soulful resonance suggested Farrar had made a shrewd choice in going out on his own. Then a funny thing happened -- Son Volt made two more albums that were solid and heartfelt but nowhere near as satisfying as Trace, and in 2000 Farrar put the group on hiatus, preferring to record and tour under his own name with a shifting set of musicians. In whittling Son Volt's history down to one disc and 20 songs, one might expect that A Retrospective: 1995-2000 would play to the genuine strengths of their body of work, but instead this compilation does as much to point to the group's flaws. A Retrospective peaks with its first four tracks -- three songs from Trace and a duet with Kelly Willis on Townes Van Zandt's "Rex's Blues," recorded for a benefit compilation. From that point on, much as Son Volt's second album got stuck in a mid-tempo rut that it never quite escaped, A Retrospective captures the sound of Farrar calling up the same beautifully sad late night vibe over and over again, with only the occasional rocker happening along to break the monotony (and anyone who saw Son Volt live knows they were a band who could rock out powerfully when the mood struck them) and Mike Heidorn, Jim Boquist, and Dave Boquist struggling to add weight and muscle to Farrar's increasingly similar songs. Fans will doubtless be drawn by the wealth of rare and unreleased material included (including a pair of home-recorded demos, some hard to find covers, and live radio recordings), but while there are a few glorious moments on A Retrospective, too much of this collection captures the sound of a major artist stuck in third gear, and that's certainly not the way this disc needed to sound. (Ironically, a new Son Volt album, Okemah and the Melody of Riot, was released two months after this compilation appeared, though Farrar was the only member of the original lineup to participate in Son Volt 2.0.)

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Product Details

Release Date: 05/24/2005
Label: Rhino
UPC: 0081227461928
catalogNumber: 74619
Rank: 33422


  1. Drown
  2. Windfall
  3. Route
  4. Rex's Blues
  5. Looking at the World Through a Windshield
  6. Too Early
  7. Back into Your World
  8. Picking Up the Signal
  9. I've Got to Know
  10. Creosote
  11. Straightface
  12. Tulsa County
  13. Driving the View
  14. Ain't No More Cane
  15. Flow
  16. Holocaust
  17. Tear Stained Eye
  18. Loose String
  19. Medicine Hat
  20. Open All Night

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Son Volt   Primary Artist
Kelly Willis   Vocals
Jay Farrar   Dulcimer,Guitar,Harmonica,Keyboards,Vocals
Michael Heidorn   Percussion,Drums
Dan Newton   Accordion
Eric Heywood   Pedal Steel Guitar
Dave Boquist   Banjo,Dobro,Guitar,Violin,Lap Steel Guitar
Jim Boquist   Bass,Piano,Background Vocals
John Maloney   Drums
Mike Heidorn   Percussion,Drums

Technical Credits

Woody Guthrie   Composer
Alex Chilton   Composer
Bruce Springsteen   Composer
Christopher Williams   Engineer
Pamela Polland   Composer
David Barbe   Engineer
Jerry Chesnut   Composer
Jay Farrar   Composer,Producer,Executive Producer,Audio Production
Keith Keller   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Huddie Ledbetter   Composer
Brian Paulson   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Townes Van Zandt   Composer
Bruce Ranes   Producer
Son Volt   Audio Production
Ed Ward   Liner Notes
Mike Hoyer   Composer
Neil Kellerhouse   Art Direction
Chris Goosman   Engineer
Josh Grier   Executive Producer
Sharon Agnello   Executive Producer

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