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May 05, 2005

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» Ryan Adams: 29:: mp3 download - new song from his new album from Music Cherry
Ryan Adams - "29" (right-click, save as, enjoy) "Is 29 the album that will split the vote a full three ways?" Ryan Adams will be releasing three album this year. The first, Cold Roses was called a masterpiece by some.... [Read More]

» Ryan Adams: 29:: mp3 download - new song from his new album from Music Cherry
Ryan Adams - "29" (right-click, save as, enjoy) "Is 29 the album that will split the vote a full three ways?" Ryan Adams will be releasing three album this year. The first, Cold Roses was called a masterpiece by some.... [Read More]

» Ryan Adams: 29:: mp3 download - new song from his new album from Music Cherry
Ryan Adams - "29" (right-click, save as, enjoy) "Is 29 the album that will split the vote a full three ways?" Ryan Adams will be releasing three album this year. The first, Cold Roses was called a masterpiece by... [Read More]

» Ryan Adams: 29:: mp3 download - new song from his new album from Music Cherry
Ryan Adams - "29" (right-click, save as, enjoy) "Is 29 the album that will split the vote a full three ways?" Ryan Adams will be releasing three album this year. The first, Cold Roses was called a masterpiece by... [Read More]

Comments

Cole

I agree with you that this probably will be the rock record of the year so we're in agreement on that.

As far as the rest of his work goes, seem to point out in a very negative manner the fact that each album sounds different, that he writes a lot of music, and that he releases all of it that is worth listening to. We probably disagree slightly disagree on which of his other albums are great/good/bad, but that doesn't really matter to me because what really strikes me as a strong current of thought in people today who are over 28 yrs. old and haven't devoted their lives to creating music (i.e., non-college kids and non-working musicians) is that almost all of them want every band to work like U2. Not everyone is U2, a band who desperately tries to have every album be just as significant of an album as the previous. Ryan obviously doesn't want that. I can't say what he wants, but what it seems like he wishes were happening is that people just listen to his albums without comparing them to each other. He maybe mistakenly never took advantage of he giant corporate engines because the fuel of those machines is producing albums on a U2-like career path: one album, one tour, and one crappy "treat" sideproject for hardcore fans.

Commercially, yes, all of these things hurt him (i'll skip the reasons why), but as far as real music lovers and critiques are concerned, it shouldn't matter whether or not he releases a alt-country album, an acoustic poprock cd, a collection of eclectic demos, a straight/nearly hard rock album, and then a sad-core/nearly solo acoustic album.

It also shouldn't matter whether or not he releases three really great albums and one perfect album every year, or whether he just releases the perfect album. In total, three really great albums plus one perfect album is leaps and bounds better than just having one perfect album per year.

It shouldn't be a crime to release music that is great and not perfect.

chervokas

I think that some people move from style to style brilliantly and change each style in the process--Miles Davis, Picasso, etc.

Some people people move from style to style in befuddlement (Dylan in the 1970s).

Adams moving from style to style sounds to me like a failure to integrate them into a personal whole. Its a lot of mimickry and quick work where a more careful approach would go a long way.

When his music sounds integrated--Demolition, disk two of Cold Roses--that's when I like Adams the best.

It didnt'like Love is Hell or RockNRoll, not because of their styles but because they were bad. Sometimes a like editing can go a long way.

Cole

hmm. I agree that most of his albums don't have an "integrated" style, but that doesn't bother me at all because in actuality I listen to music mostly for the basic songwriting. I want to hear the interplay of lyrics, melodies, and chordal harmonies. The things beyond that, which make up a personal style, are often icing or a side dish for me so I can see how it would be easier for me to enjoy Love is Hell and Rock N Roll. They're full of great songs. Just hearing the chord changes from something as simple as a Bm to a C#m coupled with earnest words and melody in Hotel Chelsea Nights just does it for me.

Yet, he does have a "sound" on demolition and Cold Roses, and a sound, a style, or a look is something that is a hot commodity in art industries. I toyed with the idea of becoming a painter when I was deciding between serious academics, painting, and music after high school and during the beginning of college (what is college for if not answering silly questions like that?). I was making enough money to scrape by doing it already, but I wanted (like many artists) to be in a gallery. Even though the galleries acknowledge that they could sell my paintings without any great effort on their part, they still very outrightly rejected me based on my not having a coherent "style." "We want a cataracted old man to be able to see a 'Cole' painting from a mile away," they said. Academia said the same thing in essence. Music obviously wants the same. The thing is though that commiting to one style pigeon holes artists just as quickly as it creates short-term success.

So long-term, even though I can understand your taste for integration, I think that Ryan's schizophrenia will pay off much better than if he cranked out a series of variations on a theme.

chervokas

Cole,

I think of Ryan Adams as a talented young songwriter who is never focused on doing his best at any one thing. The result is a career full of spotty, often mediocre, often derivative albums scattered with gems and flashes of real originality.

I chalk part of the problem up to his inability to edit and critize himself, which is on perfect display on Cold Roses. The songs which kick off each of the disks have the same theme and similar tropes.

Magnolia Mountain is decent, but built around well-worn language-- Big Rock Candy Mountain traditional transcendent gospel hobo utopia stuff--and musically it's a yawn. Even the title makes you groan, you know exactly what's coming before you press play.

Easy Plateau to me is a gripping case--a different twist on the imagery, that haunting Orbisonesque bridge towards the end that surprises the listener. It's a simpler song, but an enormously better one.

Instead of packing two disks full of music and kicking off each with these related songs, the album would have been much more listenable if we only got to hear the really great stuff.

Cole

It seems that the biggest point at which we diverge in opinion comes from the context in which you see the songs/album/artist. Being young and having not been able to drill through music history (or even consciously live through it for much more than the past five years), I don't see songs as a typical hobo fantasy song or as a typical song. I don't have enough of a mental back catalog to go much farther beyond the Duke Ellington aphorism that there's only two kinds of music: good music and bad music. So when you place your context around the songs, it brings a whole new light to them for people like myself, which is probably most of the people who buy/download Adams' work. If I had this context, then I might move more quickly to characterize more of his and other artists' work as superfluous rubbish. This is probably the first time I've even heard a Hobo's Paradise style of lyric and been keen enough to discern it (and that's only b/c of reading your blog). If I had a different or even just *more* context/history, I'd probably dismiss Rock N Roll and Love is Hell as sorry derivatives of greater artists. I don't though so I end up just asking the questions, "Is this a good song, and do I enjoy it?"

Without being able to add the question of "Is this a bad repetition of something better?" I end up with a very different answer about how I pass judgement on music. It also pushes a view that anything that is good, even if it's not great or groundbreaking, should be released. It might be MTV generation ADD (though I've never lived in a house with MTV- evil liberal parents who didn't believe in cable), and it might be my profit maximizing, lowest common denominator economic training that makes me thinking that another dollar, another sale, or another good song is always better. Even more so, I have far fewer obligations than you do (that's a total guess) since I'm younger, which gives me innumerably more hours to filter through music, so I'm never annoyed with 10 great songs and 10 mediocre songs on an album.

Yada yada yada... I wanted to just email this, but couldn't find it quickly on the blog so now everyone has this long-winded post.

chervokas

I dunno if it's age, listening experience or just taste. I used to be much more anal about the issue of novelty than I am now. I enjoy even some of Adams' most derivative stuff (tho' it drives my wife crazy!).

My point about Magnolia Mt. and Easy Plateau was less about how predicatable Magnolia is and more about the decision to put both on one album. Here are two songs with similar themes and language. One of them is okay, one of them is excellent. Sometimes you have to walk away from something even tho it's not bad because you have something better that better fits the bill. Adams never seems to make that choice.

I don't have a problem w/ people who work in multiple styles and are superb in every one--say, Picasso, Miles Davis, Igor Stravinsky...but those guys are few and far between, and they changed their fields by changing styles. Leaders not followers (well, Stravinsky became a bit of a follower in the end). I think the process of becoming an artist is the hunt for a method of making one's inner language speak to an outer audience--that's a miracle more often acheived by finding one's own approach, than by appropriating another's.

Most of all, my feeling about Adams is this: I want him to deliver the BEST music he can, not the MOST music he can.

bskeels

"Some people people move from style to style in befuddlement (Dylan in the 1970s)"

Don't mean to get off track, but what of Nashville Skyline, Blood on the Tracks and Desire (not to mention After the Flood and the Rolling Thunder live tracks) didn't you like?

chervokas

Well, Blood on the Tracks is a masterpiece, Nashville Skyline is mediocre, w/ a coupla good songs--that's about the best you can say for most of the records Dylan cut from Pat McGarrett to Time Out of Mind....just a couple of exceptions where the records are better, and those come in the 1980s. Not to say there aren't gems on the albums. Dylan's case is one of his shit being better than everyone else's diamonds. And I'm actually a fan of the Christian period. But it's not a string of great records.

I loved the Rolling Thunder Review, still, even Dylan calls the whole period his time of amnesia, when he forgot how to do what he used to do unconsciously. He even dismisses BOTT, but I suspect that's just because it cuts too close to the bone.

Befuddlement to me a perfect word for Dylan in the 1970s. He seemed to be searching for something without even being sure what he was looking for. I saw him at his most befuddled--at least until he asked to join the Grateful Dead-- must have been around 1978, the show-band tour w/ Steven Douglas on sax, the show Dylan put together after seeing Neil Diamond's show in Vegas, "immortalized" on the live at Budokan album.

Yeah. Befuddled.

bskeels

You didn't mention Desire; maybe I'm alone in thinking that, but for it coming right on the heels of Blood on the Tracks, that it would have been considered a masterpiece. Which I personally think it is. The songwriting is great, and of course all those Dylan / Emmy Lou Harris duets don't hurt a bit.

That multi-CD thing from the Rolling Thunder tour released about 3-4 years ago as 'Dylan 75' (complete with Dylan in that weird white face paint on the cover) is simply wonderful, with lots of absolute gems, from my point of view.

Not to mention that cool tour with the Band (yeah, he said he hated that one too) which was captured as After the Flood (is my memory serving me well, I think that was the name?).

Not bad for befuddled. I'd say you'd have a better case if you limited it to the second 1/2 of the 70's.

chervokas

Well, I still think Before the Flood is more rote than riot.

Desire, which was the first Dylan record I bought at it's release, is decent, but I think overrated by it's hardcore fans.

The Rolling Thunder Review was a great tour, but the collection they put together was, I think, worse and less representative of the shows than the best of the bootlegs--more acoustic stuff than was typical of the shows, no "When I Paint My Masterpiece," which was a sort of theme song/opener for those shows.

Like I said, Dylan's shit is better than most people's diamonds, so damn straight it's not bad for befuddled. But it still sounds like befuddlement to me, as well as insecurity and estrangement from his muse.

bskeels

I think your Dylan standards may just be higher, and our basic view on Desire may just be different; I would probably qualify as hardcore by that standard. As for Before the Flood, I freely confess my opinion may have been permanently warped by seeing Dylan, Band etc for the first time on that tour, not to mention other less than scientific conditions during both concert and subsequent album listening.

chervokas

Well, I'm envious that you saw Dylan w/ the Band at all! In any state of mind.

It's not that I think Before the Flood or Desire are bad. But Before the Flood I find I never really want to listen to all that much. Desire might even make a list of top 10 dylan albums if I had to make one (and it had to be confined to officially released studio albums). But I think that's more reflective of the inconsitent nature of the albums that would be at the tail end of my list than it is of the absolute merits of any one of these second level records.

I think there's a substantial qualitative gulf between the truely great records--Blonde On Blonde, Highway 61, Bringin' It all Back Home, Blood on the Tracks, and the real Basement Tapes--and any other Dylan album you want to name (w/ the possible exception of John Wesley Harding).

"I think there's a substantial qualitative gulf between the truely great records--Blonde On Blonde, Highway 61, Bringin' It all Back Home, Blood on the Tracks, and the real Basement Tapes--and any other Dylan album you want to name (w/ the possible exception of John Wesley Harding)."

That's some serious highstandarding. Plus, to me, it's hard to separate the bodacious cultural wallop packed by the early 3 you mention. Not that anybody with a brain wouldn't put them on any top list ...

Where in that pantheon do you put Time out of mind? Do you rank it (and all the praise it got) as a vehicle for a lifetime achievement award (as some characterized it), or better than that (my personal call).

bskeels

"Well, I'm envious that you saw Dylan w/ the Band at all! In any state of mind."

1967 - 74 was a good time to be going to school in Chapel Hill for the music lover. Dylan/Band (though that one was in Charlotte), Miles Davis, Lemmings (National Lampoon Company, with the original 2nd City folks pre SNL), not to mention homeboy James Taylor before anybody knew who he was, Allman Bros (before they started dying off), Phil Ochs, hell, Black Sabbath, John Jacob Nyle, many, many more. Not to further mention local club favorites Arrogance (Don Dixon, Robt Kirkland), Southern States Fidelity Choir (Diamond Studs, Pump Boys, on Broadway), Red Clay Ramblers.

chervokas

You know, I think Dylan set the high standard for himself...impossible to live up to, but like he said in Mississippi, "You can always come back, you just can't come back all the way."

I think Time Out of Mind was a return to the good fight. But as records Time Out of Mind, and Love and Theft (which I like better), fit w/ the best of the good not great albums of Dylan's post 60s career--Oh Mercy (the class of the field), Infidels, Desire.

You gotta understand my POV, tho'. To me, one "Senior," "Jokerman," "Every Grain of Sand," "Dignity," is worth any number of spotty collections. These songs are as good as anything on the big albums. It's just that the big albums are packed with these kind of songs.

In the end, I think there are two cannonical pieces on TOOM--Cold Irons Bound and Not Dark Yet, a coupla of decent ones (trying to get to heaven, highlands, love sick), and a bunch of average ones.

Love and Theft, to me, is like the good twin to Self Portrait's evil twin--instead of an attempt to alienate an audience it's almost an invitation into this weird, inner world of rudy vallee songs, civil war battles, booty calls, charley patton and dock boggs numbers.

67-74. Forget Dylan and the Band, what Miles Davis group did you see?

bskeels

"67-74. Forget Dylan and the Band, what Miles Davis group did you see?"

Dunno. I was relatively unlearned in Milesdom at the time (though Bitches Brew was on everybody's turntable), and went at the encouragement of a friend. Easy to talk me into it, to be sure ... great seats too, first row of the balcony in a cool old auditorium, looking right down on it.

Thereafter I became significantly more exposed to the body of work, but of course by then it was too late to recapture any knowledge from the concert.

Other than that it was great. It was way, way more 'cool' and laidback than Bitches Brew, and they did the whole thing in a set of blue spotlights.

bskeels

"In the end, I think there are two cannonical pieces on TOOM--Cold Irons Bound and Not Dark Yet, a coupla of decent ones (trying to get to heaven, highlands, love sick), and a bunch of average ones."

Made me go back and give this a good listen again. Very good assessment. And you're right, it was so cool to see Dylan back in the saddle, and the ones you list above were so cool (I could still listen to Not Dark Yet over and over), that I have a tendency to overrate the 'album'. Though I will say, you've mentioned 5, and there are only 9 on the whole thing, not a bad average.

Outland

The best rock record you've listened to in 10 years??? You mustn't listen to much rock.

chervokas

Outland, we all have our own taste. I think the album even gets better w/ age. I find Ryan Adams frustrating. He makes one great record for every 4 mediocre ones. But the good ones are really good, I think.

For the record, the latest Ray Davies album is much much better. And I think Counting Crows Hard Candy was really good. Other than that--and a couple of other Adams albums--you have to go back to the first Liz Phair album to find a new rock record that I return to even a year after it was released.

You're right, I don't listen to much rock these days.

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