Ryan Adams-more than hype

Just a few notes about Ryan Adams an artist I think many Audiogoners would enjoy but might avoid due to the hype surrounding him and indeed the adverse publicity.
Indeed one member told me he avoided him due to this name being too similar to Bryan Adams!

Who is he?
He's thirty this year, born in Jacksonville,NC was the main man in alt-country band Whiskeytown and has been an acclaimed solo artist since 1999.

Is he good?
He's the real deal but more of that later.

Why the bum rap?
He is something of a wonder kid,songs seem to pour out of him at an amazing rate in a wide range of styles so part of the negativity to me is jealousy.
However he has a self-destructive streak, problems with drugs an alcohol have featured in his life at times.
Occassionally on stage he's been an idiot but I do believe he is 100% genuine,his gig recently in Glasgow was a joy to watch,it's easy to see he's a little misunderstood.
If occassional bad behaviour(and it's minor) was a barrier in chossing music to listen to our collections would be mostly empty.

The music?
Awesome in places,he's the closet to a modern day (younger)song writing genius we have.Part of his problem is he creates so much music that he must find it difficult to find the right presentation for it.
Who does he sound like?
He has country roots (he did a spectacular To Miss Someone in Glasgow,he has an amazing voice when he goes plaintive)with an occassional rockier edge-he can evoke memories of everybody from Dylan,Van Morrisson, The Band,Gram Parsons,Cash, and his new record The Smiths and U2.
He can sound like a magpie at times but what saves him,makes him special is the quality of the songs.

What should I buy?
Probably Gold is the place to start-arguably his most mainstream record,listen to it and don't dismiss it because of the influences,let it breathe and you will hear a very very special talent.
I would also state I'm no expert,like any artist there is an underground network of bootlegs,unreleased songs etc.-I'm sure if the rumours are true some of his best stuff is still in the can.
If you can try to hear some of his most beautiful songs like La Cienga Just Smiled from Gold or indeed Dear Chicago from the otherwise poor Demolition and tell me I'm wrong.
heartbreaker is, imho, FAR better than gold. i also think he gets bad press because he releases way too much mediocre music. just listen to demolition and rock & roll.

but, then the love is hell eps come out and renew my faith in him. . . his best work since heartbreaker.

for those who prefer a little more country-ish sound, strangers almanac and pneumonia from whiskeytown are exceptional.
Ben and Laz, I couldn't agree with you more. I turned my 19 year old nephew onto Ryan Adams this past summer. I think his music is incredibly diverse and infinitely interesting. I truly believe Strangers Almanac (Whiskeytown) is one of the greatest recording of all time. When I first heard Turn Around from Strangers Almanac and that guitar sound I went nuts and bought every Whiskeytown cd that was out at the time. Tell me that Losering isn't one of the coolest songs ever. I now have all of those as well as all of Ryan's solo efforts. I believe the bad press or rap he gets is due to his "quality control" of songs on his releases. For me, in these times of carefully crafted and marketed "music", this is refreshing. It seems most, if not all, of my favorite artists have received bad press due to this same scenario. John Lennon, Paul Westerberg, Neil Young and Steve Forbert, among others, have been hit with this same criticism. (You gotta check out Westerberg's new cd also). Laz, give Rock and Roll more listening time, it's really pretty good in it's own way. Anyway, back to work.......

p.s. Ben, nice Tele in the background there.
Laz-arguably Heartbreaker is better than Gold but perhaps Gold is a better starting point for a wider audience,maybe,maybe not.
The main point of the thread is that I'm sure many Audiogoners will have missed this guy.
I love Strangers Almanac too and agree about Rock and Roll not brilliant but a decent record which has 4 maybe 5 excellent tracks.
I'll check it out. Parts of your description also reminds me of Gus Black (Uncivilized Love). As you know from other posts, I believe that to be a superb album (for a review, see http://www.performingsongwriter.com/pages/70/reviews.cfm )

Thanks again for the recommendation.
Everytime I see him on TV, I think yeah, he's got some talent (also, gee, he looks totally different yet again), but doesn't really have 'it'. By which I guess I mean that I'm never as bowled over as the critics say I should be (not at all, actually), and he seems more like a dilettantish craftsman than an original/inspired genius, and a bit of a self-conscious poser at that. All of his reference points let me know that he and I probably admire a lot of the same stuff, but heck, I can enjoy that on my own without needing him. I haven't heard all that much of him, it's true, but from what I have heard, I wouldn't put him in the same catagory as prime Westerberg or Chilton or Costello, for instance - more like one of their skilled admirers (who also digs Gram Parsons) than true inheritor, maybe sort of the new Matthew Sweet, but no Gene Clark (or even Robyn Hitchcock). However, I suppose in these artistically impoverished days one could do worse...
Zaikesman-I know very well where you are coming from.
I allude to that in my original post.
There is not an awful lot of originality per se in his work (when was the last time anybody did anything original in their work for that matter?)but the quality is there in abundance and indeed the songwriting is of a quality and quantity that beats the likes of Alex Chilton. Chilton's standing in my book is way overrated,I like Westerberg a lot but neither would win prizes for originality.
Adams comes from the same chain of songwriting/rock and roll but imho he has more scope and more versatility than they did-the 5 full records he has produced since 2000 are a pretty eclectic bunch.
Try to hear So Alive from Rock and Roll,La Cienga from Gold,Political Scientist from Love Is Hell,Dear Chicago from Demolition and To Be Young from Heartbreaker and tell me most of the names you mentioned could fit that range (Costello would be the exception).
Better still try to catch him live he was/is the equal of both Westerberg and Costello both of whom I've seen live and enjoyed greatly (although Costello stunk once).
I think part of the problem is us- we are so aware of the influences indeed the history of music that we automatically make the connections-Adams work is good enough to survive that if you listen ENOUGH because the quality and the spirit of his music comes through,it is music with roots and I believe it to come from a pretty honest guy with a good heart whatever his flaws and yes he is human.
I've been following muisic for 25 years and longer and I've seen plenty of hyped acts who to varying degrees struggled to live up to their labels.
I stand by every word Ryan Adams does have "it" and in abundance.
Ben - When I say originality, I mostly refer to the originality of the spirit, since very few performers can actually become true musical-form trailblazers on the order of say an Elvis Presley or James Brown. John Fogerty would be a classic exemplar of this other, equally-valuable way of being an 'original'. Basically, I guess it boils down to having your own organic thing, and that inimitable thing being exceptionally good. BTW, you may be in some sense correct when you say that Chilton's standing may be overrated (meaning with critics, mostly), but in the larger picture he is still undervalued (yes, it's possible to be both, meaning those who pay attention at all are largely insistent on doing so for his supposed 'influence', rather than for his work). And it's never been about quantity (see above Gene Clark reference, and then contrast the relatively small size of his prime body of work with the much larger size of, for instance, Costello's or Dylan's *non-prime* bodies of work). We can't all be prolific like Paul McCartney or Brian Wilson, and most shouldn't ever try.
Zaikesman I think he is original in spirit which is what I tried to explain badly.I think we take a similar view to artists and I think Adams is honest which is how I'd put.
I agree about quantity in those terms (Nick Drake for me) and I again maybe put it badly however he does seem to have that thing Dylan had in the 60's where the music almost seems to explode out of him.
Hey, I'm new to this thread, and I'm new to Ryan Adams. I started listening to Demolition, Gold, and Whiskeytown's Pneumonia without knowing there was any hype surrounding him -- I didn't know about the Gap ad or Elton John etc. The more I listen the more I agree that he IS the real deal, but very much a work in process. He's a real talent, a gifted songwriter, but still a kid, really, and I hope that explains some of the posing and silliness that I hear reported about him. But these three CDs are well worth checking out and Adams is worth keeping an eye on. I buck the trend and prefer Demolition over Gold and even over Heartbreaker, although I know it least well. Demolition is supposed to be demos, but I don't buy it. This is very polished work and well enough recorded, although not as "produced" as Gold (that's a good thing). A bit more exploratory, overall, which is why I suspect it was released under the guise of "demos." Heartbreaker seems a fine CD, but has a more conventional sound. Following too closely in Steve Earle's tracks perhaps. I haven't heard his latest, but I'm sure I'll track them down and follow his career.
Judasmac-Demolition wasn't particularly demos-the material on that record was taken from several different sessions and recordings-if I remember right he had three albums worth of material in the can.He didn't think any were finished and under a bit of pressure decided to realise a compilation of tracks on a single CD.

Ryan was true to form in the UK this week,during the second gig of the tour (which has been getting rave reviews)in Liverpool he terrorised the audience by climbing his PA stacks and performing a version of Sylvia Plath,he looked unsteady on the way up and unsteady on the way down.
Safely placed back on stage half way through the next song he slipped fell off stage and broke his wrist.
End of gig,tour and six weeks in plater for Ryan.
Rock and Roll.
The first Ryan Adams I bought was Rock N Roll last month. To me, all of the songs on Rock N Roll are fun to listen to. I discovered Ryan Adams through the college radio station WLUR Washington and Lee University radio; The students played the Rock N Roll songs on the Radio..... I have since bought all of Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown's recordings ((except for a few "rare import" recordings on the record store shelf... I will buy those when I get around to it.)) The discs I spin the most are Whiskeytown 'Stranger's Almanac', Rock N Roll, and Love is Hell part 1. Of those three, I spin Love is Hell part 1 the most. On Love is Hell, the song I skip to the most is "World War 24"; I love the guitar twang as Ryan sings the chorus......
I was hoping to hear Ryan Adams in concert this winter or spring, but he broke his wrist falling off a stage in the U.K. last week.....
I must admit i love his music and have prolly 10 or so of his cd's. Yes, the whiskeytown albums are great. I met him in person 4 or 5 years ago in a bar. He was pretty drunk but friendly enough. Then i saw him in Nashville 2 years ago at the historic ryman auditorium. I brought a friend to expose him to RA. Well, in the words of Simon Crowell "Absolutely Dreadful!" Poor muscicianship, drunk, didn't play any songs i know { i have 10 Albums}. This was were the famous Bryan Adams incident occurred. Pitiful....
It shouldn't effect how much i listen to him but it does.
New news -

Ryan Adams is back on tour. I just bought tickets to see him in Manhattan.

I've seen him live once before - at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit two years ago. He was fantastic back then.

Just a heads up.
Yes, I would argee. He has rapidly become one of my favorite artists. I have his entire catalog. Well worth getting into..Hoping to catch him here in DC.

Hey Y'all,

Niravp, thanks for the info. I just purchased 2 tix for the 10/1 show at the Beacon. I was turned on to Mr. Adams by Tireguy and I was very excited to hear he would be in town. I can't wait........John

Do you know if the Beacon is General Admission? I already have tickets to the 10/1 show as well and have a few friends that are interested in joining me. If its not assigned seating, they can just buy tickets and meet me (I'm coming in from Boston; my friends are at NYU's law school).

The Beacon seems like a fantastic venue, btw.

Hey Nirav,

I just checked my tickets and they are assigned seating........John
Yeah, I saw the seat numbers on my tickets as well. But I thought I should ask, since the words "General Admission
were on the Ticketmaster website, and all the tickets were priced equally.

As a side note, a friend of a friend is selling his front-row tickets on ebay (these tickets are for Ryan at the Beacon on 10/1). Last time I checked they were up to $207.
Don't get your hopes up. I was let down when i saw him live...