Album Review

Ryan Adams Behind Bars

Ryan Adams - Prisoner

I don't love all of his records, but I buy them all...because there are a few desert island records too...Heartbreaker, Love Is Hell, Stranger's Almanac, Pneumonia (and I really like most of Gold and Demolition, and Cold Roses)...maybe Prisoner will join the list, maybe not...he's still one of the most talented artists out there...seems a little less volatile these days too...

I've never gotten into Ryan Adams because I heard he was such an asshole. He performed in the studio of a now defunct radio station here in Seattle and so insulted the DJ that they talked about it for months. Then I heard that story repeated here about having a heckler thrown out for requesting a Brian Adams song. But I've also read he got sober and mellowed out and now it turns out that story was mostly false about the heckler. So I'm thnking I should give the guy a try and Jim has suggested several worthy releases. Thanks.

Whiskeytown...great stuff, "Strangers Almanac" and "Pneumonia"...No Depression was all over them back in the early days, as they came around not long after Uncle Tupelo...

His best solo record is "Heartbreaker", IMO...probably "Love Is Hell" after that..."Gold" has some of his best work but is inconsistent..."Demoltion" is outtakes that he forged into a record, but I like lots of it, particularly "Nuclear" and "Tennesse Sucks"

I haven't heard "Prisoner" yet, but if it follows form, his music was better when he was an asshole...I think all the records I just mentioned were before he got sober and got married...I have all the others...there's a live one that has like 170 songs on it and that's great but it has alternate versions of lots of songs performed on different nights and after a while I just stopped listening because I'm 60 and even if I live to be 100 I didn't want to invest that much time in anything...

I've seen him live 3 times...one of those was in the top 10 concerts I've ever seen...he's been a little testy the times I've seen him but also pretty funny...band was killer every time...

 

 

I was at the Ryman for that show.  It was indeed as Ryan says, not as the "journalist" wrote.

I always liked The Cardinals stuff and felt it underrated.

Was at the stage in a small joint in Nasville for the Gold tour.  One of my favorite shows ever.

Always wished he had put out less stuff though, particularly in the mid and later years.

He has a great gift for melody.

 

You nailed it Ken Dog, great gift for melody...the show I saw that I put in my top 10 was that tour too...Indianapolis, smaller venue...tremendous...

Thanks Jim.  You going to try to see him on his upcoming tour?  Haven't seen him in a while, may try to this time.

tDepends on the venue... I don't care for the place he's played the last couple of times but maybe... I just got Prisoner today so I will give it a spin this weekend... I will let you know what I think.

 

Cool.  Thanks.

Prisoner...my take after 2 times through is it is better than anything he's done in a while, though I like certain tracks on all of his records...like for instance "Two" on "Easy Tiger"...I liked pretty much Prisoner all the way through...Grant's contention that it reminds of several other artists is true, but he's always done that..."Gold" to me was a primer on how to channel lots of different influential bands and artists...

Ryan has said that he was being a poseur when his music had more conuntry influence (I presume that means the Whiskeytown records and maybe "Heartbreaker" too), that the music he made then wasn't the real him...that he really is a rock and roll guy at heart...so I'd guess he's not going to make anything like those records again...while I love those the best, I still really like what he's doing now too...there's an old saying that when you are young you can really be passionate about something and that maybe carries you through, but as you get older and you really learn your craft, that takes over what you do more so that the emotional...people pick up on the fact that you are pouring your heart out at the beginning...when you stay at something a while, it matures and it is different...that's what has happened I guess...

This record is pretty darn good...no clunkers and a few standout tracks...the title song and "Outbound Train" are what I like the best so far, but I've only listened twice...

 

I really enjoyed your write-up Jim.  I've downloaded Prisoner and will give it my first complete listen tomorrow.  I'll give you my view upon hearing it all.  Like you, I like Whiskeytown and the earliest stuff best, as I suspect most people do, but, I respect his decision to move on.  Often times, folks have a hard time letting artists move on, like some folks wish Jeff and Jay were still Uncle Tupelo.  And, I have no problem with artists channeling other artists, as most all are influenced by someone.  Heck, if there were no Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly, there would not have been early John/Paul/Beatles.  They moved on too.  Also like you, I've always liked something on all of Ryan's later albums, but usually not everything.  I look forward to see if I like all of these tracks or not.

FWIW, I used to pretend to be a songwriter.  If interested, you can check my stuff out at soundcloud, under "thekendog".  If so, I would welcome any feedback (through there) that you might provide, bad or good.  It's hard for an amateur to get honest feedback from family and friends.  Peace...

love ryan...he continues to push and create and not turn back...

if you dig ryan, you may like this alt-country live album:

https://oldsandtheabsolution.bandcamp.com/releases

live--- free, moody...lyrically complex.