Viva la Vinyl: Now That You’re Gone 7″

Posted by Payton | Posted in artist spotlight, ryan adams spotlight, viva la vinyl | Posted on 03-10-2010

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The reader poll I ran for the last two weeks is now closed. The feature posts you guys enjoy the most here at are my Artist Spotlights. It’s a safe bet to assume that this victory was due more to the Ryan Adams Spotlights than the features on other artists. Coming in 3rd – behind New Digs – was Viva la Vinyl, so what better way to kick off this new, more-informed posting than with a post that tackles 2 of the top 3 features in one.

When we left off, Ryan and Lost Highway had just released Love Is Hell. Soon after, a few different ‘Wonderwall’ singles were released (2 CDs and a 7″). Included with these singles were some great B-Sides (‘One By One’, ‘I Wanna Go Home’, and ‘Suspicion’) that all made the cut on my Ryan Adams B-Side collection Sweet Black Magic. This mixtape will only be available for a few more days, so if you haven’t already, go pick it up now.

After a 2004 Halloween Promo Disc I’ve already posted, the last music Ryan Adams released before 2005 was a PAX-AM 7″ featuring early versions of tunes that would be part of his first endeavor with The Cardinals. The Now That You’re Gone 7″ was the third and final (for five years, at least) release on his PAX-Americana label. Check out the first two.

A: Ryan Adams - Now That You're Gone (vinyl rip)
B: Ryan Adams - If I Am A Stranger (vinyl rip)

So this brings us to the magical year that was 2005. The next post in the spotlight will be on Cold Roses.
Get your jam pants on…

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Mixtape VI: Sweet Black Magic (Ryan Adams B-Sides)

Posted by Payton | Posted in mixtape, ryan adams spotlight | Posted on 01-21-2010

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Before I delve into 2005 and the onset of The Cardinals in my spotlight, there’s still plenty of music that needs to be (over)examined. Now, I don’t follow much less obsess over collecting each piece of music that any artist records like I do Ryan Adams, but from what I can tell, he’s part of a select group of musicians that constantly offer up bonus tracks with each release. Forget all his ‘unreleased sessions’ or rejected albums for the moment; Ryan Adams’ extra songs recorded alongside those that made final album cuts still stack up higher than most folks’ entire catalogs.

Starting with 2001’s Gold, Ryan has rewarded pre-orders, limited editions, and often folks from other continents with extra tracks that didn’t make the proper album with nearly every release. As you’ll see, these are often as good if not better than many of the album cuts, and the mystery remains why these songs were never properly released. My Ryan Adams Spotlight posts have been adorned with many of these tracks that were ‘bonus album cuts,’ but a lot of them were never even attached to albums of his. I’ve whittled these 50 or so songs down to the best 22 to bring you Mixtape VI: Sweet Black Magic.

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Mixtape V: This One’s For The Rose

Posted by Payton | Posted in mixtape, ryan adams spotlight | Posted on 12-02-2009

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We’ve reached a large benchmark in the Ryan Adams Spotlight here at It’s 2004 and Ryan has just talked Lost Highway into releasing Love Is Hell, his solo career-ending opus. The remaining part of 2004 will see Lost Highway release various singles from Rock N Roll and Ryan himself (through PAX-AM) put out a handful of 7″ vinyls.

Those paying attention will argue that 29 was Ryan’s last ’solo’ record – and they have a point. 29 was recorded before JCN and Cold Roses, and without The Cardinals. But because it was released last out of the three 2005 masterpieces – and because the extra/bonus material from those sessions has yet to surface – I will review it later. For now, Ryan’s solo career is over and it’s time to slow down and take a look back at the multitudes of tracks released in the last 4 years.

To quote one of the greatest music-driven movies of all time, “the making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem.” I’ve been working on this mixtape basically since I started this blog. This One’s For The Rose is the quintessential ‘Greatest Hits’ formed from all of the ‘unreleased’ tracks Ryan recorded from 2000-2003. This excludes any track that was (or has since been) released in any sort of official form – as a bonus track, on a compilation, re-recorded for a later album, etc. The sessions that produced this material vary in quality, style, and genre, but then again, you could say about all of Ryan’s stuff. These collections haven’t been mastered and/or cut well, so I took this liberty of ‘cleaning’ them up a bit – cropping the tracks to eliminate leads-ins, restarts, and empty tape. These 19 tracks are split into two sides, each of which can be considered an album on its own – beginning with a strong, upbeat track, dancing around throughout the middle without a single weak song, and with one of Ryan’s signature piano ballads to cap it off.

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Ryan Adams: Love Is Hell

Posted by Payton | Posted in album review, bonus disc, ryan adams spotlight | Posted on 11-11-2009

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My last official post in the Ryan Adams Spotlight (since filled in with Viva la Vinyls and an Evolution of Song) was way back in March. In my Rock N Roll review, I mentioned that Love Is Hell was supposed to be the follow up to Demolition but was rejected (or rather put on the back-burner) by Lost Highway. Ryan subsequently recorded Rock N Roll to assuage his label, who released the blistering disc in November of 2003. And as reciprocation, Lost Highway also quietly released Love is Hell, Pt 1 the same day. The remainder of the selection of songs that would eventually become the complete collection were released as Love Is Hell, Pt 2 a month later in December of 2003. It wasn’t until May of ‘04 that the label felt it necessary to re-issue the collection as one complete set.

Ryan says LIH is “a lot like Heartbreaker, but better and more severe.” I can get on board with the latter. “It’s complex and it’s damaged, a genuine, freaked-out, psychedelic wall of soundscape, and I think for subject matter it can’t be beat.” As far as subject matter goes – and while we’re making Heartbreaker comparisons – it’s much more personal in content than his debut. He also says its “me totally being me. It was the record I needed to make.” But if Ryan has ever been accused of being the sad-bastard type of singer/songwriter, then LIH is him at his sad-bastardest.

The album isn’t his strongest, either looking forward or back, but it may just contain some of his strongest and most underrated songs. The sad part is, none of these come until the latter part of the album (or Pt. 2, if you prefer the EPs). This may be the reason that the album never became a fan favorite or was ever referred to as one of his better albums. If I were a casual listener, I would have a hard time making it to Side 2 before giving up on the album. It begins with the weakest album-opener in his repertoire, ‘Politcal Scientist‘. Afraid Not Scared‘ follows only to bore me further, going so far as to slightly annoy me with its repetitious, droll lines. Each of the 5 or so opening tracks can be considered a microcosm for the entire album itself: sure, there are some good (even great) parts, but on the whole, the depressing, metallic feel of it all overwhelms.

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Evolution of Song: What Sin Replaces Love

Posted by Payton | Posted in evolution, ryan adams spotlight, videos | Posted on 10-05-2009

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What Sin Replaces Love?
Love is gone. There’s a hole where it used to be. What is the quickest way to fill it?

That’s what Ryan Adams asks in one of his most epic songs. And he wants to know RIGHT fucking NOW. The answer he inevitably settles on seems to be murder. He wants to “kick love right in its gut; beat it and leave it for dead.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that ‘What Sin…’ was never officially included on an album. But since its inception around 2000, the song has been a live staple. While it hasn’t changed lyrically in 9 years, it has evolved from a dark, acoustic tune into a full-on electric blues jam. Let’s explore.

Tell me what sin replaces love
I wanna know, right now

Tell me what sin replaces love

I wanna know, right now

Imagine yourself on a mountain

A mountain discolored with flowers

Flowers discolored with horses

Horses distracted by stones

Stone distrusting and mean

Then you might know what I mean

I want to kick love right in its gut

Beat it and leave it for dead

Go and wash my hands in the river

Lie down and die in your bed

The voice on the receiver

Baby cry howlin’ in the wind

I don’t wanna beg for your mercy

I wanna know right know, what sin

Tell me what sin replaces love

I wanna know, right now

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Viva la Vinyl: Ryan Adams’ California 7"….

Posted by Payton | Posted in ryan adams spotlight, viva la vinyl | Posted on 09-08-2009

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Here’s another set of freshly-ripped vinyl tracks from none other than Ryan Adams. These songs make up the California 7″ EP, the second of the three PaxAM releases set free in 2004. All four sides of this collection are taken directly from 2000’s Exile on Franklin Street.

A: California
B: Waves Crashing

C: Secret Powers

D: Do You Wanna Get High?

I posted the vinyl tracks from Ryan’s first PaxAM release – The Rescue Blues EP - here and mentioned that there were rumors that Ryan was looking to resurrect the vinyl label. Well, unless there’s an imposter on a Ryan Adams forum, then the man himself has shared further details on the matter.

Wolfhunter says that certain, newer, unreleased material should be available “eventually.” Among the material to be released are Cardinology outtakes, and Cardinals IV/V, the latter of which are complete records made with the original Cardinals lineup. He also says that they will be available on vinyl and as mp3 downloads.

**Update 9-9-09**
Suspicions confirmed! Check out for an informative video of his PaxAM vinyl mastering machine. Oh, there’s also a couple mp3’s from the first pressing available for purchase – and download on Friday. Well, maybe the second release if you count the 7″ that came with the Hello Sunshine pre-order – which I should post here in a few.

You get:
•Lost and Found

•Go Ahead and Rain

for only $1.49

Hiatus officially over. Rejoice.
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Viva la Vinyl: Ryan Adams’ Rescue Blues 7"….

Posted by Payton | Posted in ryan adams spotlight, viva la vinyl | Posted on 07-30-2009

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In 2004, Ryan Adams started up his own small record label, Pax Americana, in order to release demo recordings of some of his tunes that Lost Highway didn’t deem worthy. He only released 3 sets – The Rescue Blues [EP], California [EP], and If I Am A Stranger [Single] – all on 7-inch vinyl. Just yesterday, I won an auction for the Stranger Single, completing my PAX-AM collection.

However, word on the street is that this label may soon be resurrected. Apparently, Ryan’s art-guy (as seen alongside Ryan in his more recent YouTube vids) twittered about (re)designing “@ryanad_ms vinyl label art” and also posted the above pic.

If you check out Ryan’s website, there’s a suspicious message that may just corroborate this intel. Decide for yourself, but in the meantime, enjoy these vinyl rips of The Rescue Blues [EP].

A: The Rescue Blues (vinyl rip)
B: Come Pick Me Up (vinyl rip)
C: Enemy Blanks (vinyl rip)
D: Tell Me How You Want Me To Feel (vinyl rip)

These original 4-track versions are definitely demo-quality, but well worth the listen. Come Pick Me Up is especially interesting, recorded at a slower pace, much like his live version. Enemy Blanks (aka Enemy Fire) gets re-structured in this set, beginning with the chorus. Rescue Blues and the unreleased Tell Me are both gritty, heavy-electric takes that showcase Ryan’s original intent for his songs.

If you’ve been keeping up with my Ryan Adams Spotlight, you may have noticed I’ve been at a standstill in the chronological album reviews. Waiting on deck is Love Is Hell – quite the review-task, if you ask me. That album definitely requires the right mood/mindset to listen to, much less review. But stay patient, I’ll get to it. After LIH, Ryan joined up with The Cardinals, and in one year, put out 3 of his most amazing albums. To help bridge this gap, I’ve created a Ryan Adams (solo) Mixtape of his best unreleased tunes. I’ve spent a lot of time adding/removing tunes, deciding on a track-order, and cropping them to fit as many as possible. It may just be the next best thing to the elusive unreleased box-set, so keep an eye out for it.

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Ryan Sets Free New Book and New (old) Track…

Posted by Payton | Posted in books, free music, ryan adams spotlight | Posted on 05-18-2009

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That’s the freshly positive Ryan Adams uploading a demo (somewhat acoustic) recording of ‘Magick’ to his website as a thanks for all the pre-orders of his latest written work, Hello Sunshine. Ryan’s second book of verse is purported to be a much brighter collection of poems and short fiction than his debut literary work.

The song is available for download if you know your way around the nets, but I’ll make it easy on you.
Magick (Original Home Demo)

The book – at least the pre-order – costs nearly as much as I’ve spent on my entire collection of Ryan Adams’ music, but that didn’t stop this unapologetic fan (even after Cardinology) from droppin’ the bucks. For $50 +shipping you get a hardcover version of Hello Sunshine plus a limited edition, numbered chapbook signed by Ryan. This addition, entitled Pink Magic (I guess he found the spellcheck this time) is only available through this pre-order. It’s not officially released until December 1st, but the pre-orders will ship by August 10th.

Ryan says of Hello Sunshine, “This collection was a beautiful way for me to wrap up my narrative verse style of writing before I move into writing short stories and novels. Maybe this book really is more about my connection to my senses and to the romantic. Where I was scared to read Infinity Blues after I wrote it, Hello Sunshine makes me want to eat ice cream. This book is about, quite simply, how it might feel to surrender to a love. It will reinforce everyone’s fear that I am smarter than them.”

Click here to order yours.

Now, I’ve said before that I’m not the biggest fan of poetry, but Ryan’s Infinity Blues is slowly growing on me. As I’ve made my way through the strangely spaced and punctuated verse, a handful of the selections have emerged as (somewhat) coherent and enjoyable. Here’s one that stood out to me:

In the Middle of the Night Goes the Bang
Ryan Adams

in these slow moments, when there is too much time, i feel the entire inside
world of me collapse into its pile
the words drift from me
and i am but a calm swarm
an endless end
my skin touches the edge of the desk and i know i am alive
sort of hanging
and i feel a soft heart
my own
go into the gears, go shredding
for lack of tears
and more words
for the things i could not express
and time
which will not wind itself back
where the folds of what was me and what were wishes
came undone
like a slow dress in a brutal wind
like when a flock separates
and takes no shape again
was that my soul
my heart wrapped in tin
with a wire
on ice
and a bulb too thin
or a dream too long
or a breath too kissed
words they do fine
but cannot touch
this thing i miss
a heart
inside me
in the middle of the night goes the bang

Buy Infinity Blues, if you dare.

Viva La Vinyl: Ryan Adams Set

Posted by Payton | Posted in ryan adams spotlight, viva la vinyl | Posted on 04-15-2009

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Thanks to the power of eBay, I recently completed my Ryan Adams full-album collection on Vinyl.
Love Is Hell was the final missing piece; I won an auction for it a week or two ago. I coughed up a pretty penny, but it was worth it for completion’s sake. Love Is Hell was the only Lost Highway Adams album that didn’t see a vinyl reissue a couple years ago. I don’t know the exact reason for this, but Ryan may have made the decision himself to keep things interesting. When his label offered this reissue,, a great source for records, put together a Ryan Adams vinyl package – Gold, Demolition, R N R, Cold Roses, 29, JCN – for a mere $75. Sweet deal.

I ordered the newest releases as they came out, save for Follow The Lights. I was about to pick one up at Cactus Music last month until I found this:

The Cardinals’ Everybody Knows [EP] was a UK-only release. The 12″ is essentially Follow The Lights, but with ‘Everybody Knows’ from ET leading off, thus pushing each track back one spot. I figured why not pay a little more for that extra track and get the bonus of having a far more rare disc.

Sometime last year, Bloodshot Records got with the picture and reissued Heartbreaker on a 12″ gatefold double vinyl. I only learned of this while browsing the site with the intention of purchasing Midnight At The Movies earlier this year. So I snagged Ryan’s debut LP about a month before the elusive LIH 10″ gatefold showed up on eBay.

As you probably know, Love Is Hell was originally issued as two EPs – parts 1 & 2 – in late 2003. The collections were later combined and released as a double 10″ containing 15 tracks. Five months later, the album was released in CD form and an alternate version of ‘Anybody Wanna Take Me Home’ was added. The extra track, clocking in at nearly a full minute longer than the original form, was a strange addition, but being one of the softer tracks on Rock N Roll, it does feel in place here.

In my ongoing Ryan Adams spotlight, I try to approach each album/session with open mind and ears. We all know the best way to get the feel of an album is to hear it in its intented form – high fidelity analog. So the aquisition of this last disc comes at a perfect time as Love Is Hell is next in line. Until then, I’ll wet your ears with that mysterious extended track added to the LIH CD.

Anybody Wanna Take Me Home (extended version)

My quest will continue for as many 7″ Vinyl Singles as I can get my hands on. I already own this Whiskeytown EP and the bonus 7″ from Cardinology. En route via eBay is the ‘Hey Parker It’s Christmas’ 7″ and the ‘Wonderwall’ 7″ single.

If anyone wants to begin a collection of their own, check out this eBay auction for a great start. You get:

  • Demolition
  • Cold Roses
  • Jacksonville City Nights
  • Easy Tiger (orange vinyl)
  • Cardinology (with 7″ single)
  • Hey Parker It’s Christmas 7″ Single

With under 4 days left, the bidding is only up to $10.49!!!

Ryan Adams: Rock N Roll

Posted by Payton | Posted in album review, ryan adams spotlight | Posted on 03-28-2009

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Rock N Roll…. loud, unfiltered, adored, maligned, epic.

But before I get into all that, you must know that Rock N Roll was not intended to be the follow-up record to Demolition (neither was Demolition Ryan’s proposed record, but I digress). In 2002, Ryan began a transition, some might say a regression, toward a heavier sound. Full electric lineups turned up to 11. He formed yet another punk band, The Finger, with Jesse Malin and a few others under a pseudonymous shield. Ryan (Warren Peace) provided dirty guitar. They released 2 EP’s – which I have – but will spare your ears the posting of them (check out the page for full artwork/credits).

Sensing the inevitable sound transformation, Ryan wanted to record one more (last?) down-tempo, sentimental album. Love Is Hell was recorded in New York in 2002 – more on this in the future – but was not accepted by Lost Highway. They reportedly complained that the collection was “too alternative,” “incredibly depressing,” and “not your best stuff.” Again, the label wanted Ryan to recreate the success of Gold, most-likely telling him to create more of a rock and roll sound. Ryan took that and ran.

Straight back to the studio with a group of friends, Ryan recorded what would be a metaphorical slap-in-the-face to Lost Highway: A record spitefully entitled Rock N Roll. The set is blatant, forceful rock that is the furthest overlap of Ryan’s therapeutic but never-serious side projects into his ‘real’ work.

“Rock N Roll is unadulterated–it’s the way I play guitar live. It’s the exact sound I always use when I make the demonstration recordings for my records. The other albums are concept records a little bit, but I wasn’t trying to reference anything here.” – Ryan Adams

Present in the studio during the two-week recordings were Smashing Pumpkins/Hole bassist Melissa Auf de Maur, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong – whom Ryan shockingly resembled during this time – and his then love interest Parker Posey.

R&R isn’t shy in expressing it’s contempt, both lyrically and musically. Powerful guitar riffs become instant classics in songs like ‘Shallow,’ ‘Wish You Were Here,’ ‘So Alive,’ and ‘Do Miss America.’ Most songs on the collection end in huge crescendos of drums, vocals and reverb. That is, except one. Keeping with the sarcasm theme, the title track is the only cut to not feature amped-up guitars. This depressingly slow ballad features only Ryan on piano and vocals:

“Everybody’s cool playin’ rock and roll.
Everybody’s cool playin’ rock and roll.
I don’t feel cool, feel cool at all.
I don’t feel cool, feel cool at all.”

‘Rock N Roll’ concludes with a grainy voice mail from a terrified Courtney Love. The barely discernible audio may have helped to spurn the recent lash-out from the troubled songstress in which she accused Ryan of draining all of her daughter Frances Bean Cobain’s trust fund. The money was allegedly used to fund studio costs, guitars, expensive dinners at Nobu, and plenty of speedballs. She claims that the costs added up to a cool $858,000 and goes on to completely bash the album itself, calling it “one of the worst recordings [she's] ever heard.” Read the entire, ridiculous thing here.

Ryan’s left-handed sarcasm shows through only in somewhat lackluster writing. Nearly every song concludes with repetitions of cliché rock phrasing – “just like magic” “wish you were here” “the drugs ain’t working“taking me higher!” This element is frighteningly similar to the problems I had with Cardinology, but on Rock N Roll, it all works to add up to an effective statement of defiance toward authority. And that’s the ultimate goal of rock and roll, right?

Well, I wasn’t arrogant in the beginning; I was naive. I didn’t know to not speak about my music like I totally believed in it.”

Read the whole interview, conducted by Parker Posey.


Now for the good stuff: Bonus Tracks

Rock N Roll [UK/Japan Bonus Tracks] Nov, 2003

Funeral Marching
posted here

So Alive [International Single CD1] Jan, 2004

Ah Life
Don’t Even Know Her Name

So Alive [International Single CD2] Jan, 2004

I’m Coming Over

So Alive [International 7" Single] Jan, 2004


This Is It [Single] May 2004

Red Lights
Closer When She Goes
Twice As Bad As Love