Category: Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell

ARTIST: Ryan Adams                               220px-Love_Is_Hell

TITLE: Love Is Hell

YEAR RELEASED: 2003 / 2004

CHART ACTION: #68 UK. Pt. 1 EP #78 US, #62 UK. Pt. 2 EP #114 EP

SINGLES: Wonderwall (#27 UK)


LINEUP: Ryan Adams. He used two bands – one for NYC sessions the other for sessions in New Orleans. They included Greg Leisz, Ricky Fataar, and Ian McLagan, among others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Forced to release this set as two Eps at first, Ryan Adams creates a downer masterwork. RyanAdamsLoveIsHellpt1

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The record company said it wasn’t a commercially viable product, but they did allow Adams to release this work as two EPs. When they sold well, Lost Highway reconsidered, and released it as one unit, with the addition of one track from his prior album, although in an unexpurgated version. (There’s more to the story, I’m sure. Whenever they write a Ryan Adams book, the damn things going to be 1,000 pages due to all the stories and myths).

“Political Science” isn’t the most upbeat album opener, and throughout most of the record Adams stays pretty true to the title of his work. The title track is one of his most realized and complete songs he’s ever written, and his cover of “Wonderwall” strikes a right note.

As the music moves on, Adams tries to pull everyone out of his dolorious state, with a couple of more upbeat tracks, including “Hotel Chelsea Nights”. It’s a fine capper to a fine record that shouldn’t have been shelved in the first place. RyanAdamsLoveIsHellpt2

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Adams wrote “Shadowlands” before a concert in Belfast, and opened his show with it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Japan, of course, yet again, got bonus tracks on each EP and on the full length. Dang it.

GRADE A: He’s better when he’s contrary and bucking the system, like this.

Ryan Adams – Rock n Roll

ARTIST: Ryan Adams            220px-Ryan_Adams_Rock_N_Roll

TITLE:  Rock N Roll



SINGLES: This Is It, So Alive (#21 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Shallow, Wish You Were Here

LINEUP: Ryan Adams, Jonathan Flaugher, Paul Garisto, Johnny McNab, Johnny Pisano, Tony Shanahan, Johnny T. Yerington with help from Billie Joe Armstrong, Melissa Auf der Mar, and Parker Posey.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After his record company held the release of Love Is Hell, Adams slammed this rock album out quickly, and it’s a darn good rock record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For a quick fix substitute record, this is darn good. Adams luckily had a pretty large backlog of songs, so he was able to pull these out and record them in a short amount of time in two studios.

It’s imperfect (like most of Adams’ records, since he’s prolific he tends to throw everything against a wall), but when it works the hooks, melody, and sonic palette all combine for a nice rock-and-roll sound with enough variation so you don’t get bored.

From stem-to-stern, it’s decent enough to keep you listening. Adams did an admirable job in this pinch hit of a record.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Love Is Hell was released as two EPs, and then a combined album. It’s a much different animal than this one, or anything else Adams had done.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A bonus track for Europe and one for Japan 

GRADE: B+: By no means a masterpiece, it’s got enough good songs that make it worth having..


Ryan Adams – Demolition

ARTIST: Ryan Adams            220px-Ryan_Adams_Demolition

TITLE: Demolition



SINGLES: Nuclear (#37 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hallelujah, Tennessee Sucks

LINEUP: Ryan Adams. There were 15 other musicians on here because the songs came from leftovers of three other albums. Ethan Johns plays on many, along with Bucky Baxter

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Splitting up three completed albums that were rejected or unfinished into one record, it sounds like an odds-and-sods record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There were four album sessions contained in these tracks, and it definitely sounds like it. Adams’ projects usually have a unifying sound or theme – but here it is scattered.

That’s not to say it’s not unlistenable – several tracks are quite good and a couple of them are his most popular. Yet while the divergence of styles shows his versatility, it doesn’t make a cohesive record.

All in all, this is a minor record in his oeuvre, which some moments but nothing that will make you listen to the whole thing. Of course, it was his highest charting album until 2007.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Now, Adams doesn’t like it since it split up three whole albums and used other sessions as well. I don’t blame him.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, in Japan. More odds and sods for a jumble.

GRADE: B: I may be too harsh on it, as it does have some of my favorite Adams tunes, but it’s not really a cohesive project.

Ryan Adams – Gold

ARTIST: Ryan Adams                             220px-ryan_adams_gold

TITLE:  Gold



SINGLES: New York, New York (#112 US, #53 UK), Answering Bell (#39 UK)


LINEUP: Ryan Adams, Ethan Johns, Jennifer Condos, Richard Causon, Benmont Tench, Chris Stills and other session players who popped in and out

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Adams extends himself, and makes a case for rock-and-roll semi-stardom. He kinda succeeds.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s one of those things that the first two tracks of an album aren’t my favorites, but that’s the deal here. A sprawling album that focuses more on rock-and-roll with just a few hints of his alt-country persona, Ryan Adams’ Gold makes a definite play for the radio on several tracks and those somewhat fall short for the most part.

Yet, it’s the deeper cuts that make the impact. The long track “Nobody Girl” doesn’t wear out its welcome even after nine minutes, and the slow-burning rocker “Enemy Fire” crackles with emotion, as does the slow piano ballad “Sylvia Plath”.

It’s a long album, but sticking with the deep cuts gives you some reward.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Adams wanted this to be a classic double album, but his record company truncated the album and put the last five cuts as a special bonus disc. Adams was not impressed with that decision to say the least. Those last five cuts aren’t streaming, but they should be. Thanks a lot, Lost Highway.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: See above, and there’s even a version with two added tracks along with the five others.

GRADE: B+:  Adams’ deep cuts are more sincere and heartening than the ones he prepped for the radio.

Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

ARTIST: Ryan Adams          220px-RyanAdamsHeartbreaker

TITLE:  Heartbreaker




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)

LINEUP: Ryan Adams, Ethan Johns, David Rawlings, Gillian Welch, Pat Sansone. Emmy Lou Harris, Kim Richey and Allison Pierce do backing vocals on one song each.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After Whiskeytown slowly imploded, Adams starts his solo career with a set that fits right in with what his band was doing at the end.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The slow, sad demise of Whiskeytown birthed Adams’ solo career, and realistically, the last Whiskeytown album was pert near a solo album anyway.

This is a pretty standard alt-country record, featuring Adams’ aching heart love songs or pleading heart love songs (and some other songs about being young, etc.). There’s a lot of great stuff here, like “My Winding Wheel”, “Oh My Sweet Carolina” (featuring Emmylou Harris) and “Come Pick Me Up” (featuring great vocals from Kim Richey). “Amy” is just gorgeous.

Adams, even then, was very prolific (just look at bonus cuts on a couple of Whiskeytown releases), and that’s to this album’s detriment. Amidst the great stuff, there’s some mediocre material that could have been left for B-sides. Trimming 10 to 12 minutes wouldn’t be that hard, and it’d be a better, more compact album.

Still, Adams was off to a great start on his solo career as the highlights of this album show.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album starts with an argument on what album “Suedehead” by Morrissey was on. It’s on both Bona Drag and Viva Hate, BTW.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: In France (not Japan, believe it or not!)

GRADE: B+. When you look at the tracks left on the album after about 10 to 11, that’s a sign the record’s too long.