Thursday, November 26, 2009

Numer Eight Gold

#8 Gold – Ryan Adams 2001

1. "New York, New York"
2. "Firecracker"
3. "Answering Bell"
4. "La Cienega Just Smiled"
5. "The Rescue Blues"
6. "Somehow Someday"
7. "When The Stars Go Blue"
8. "Nobody Girl"
9. "Sylvia Plath"
10. "Enemy Fire"
11. "Gonna Make You Love Me"
12. "Wild Flowers"
13. "Harder Now That It’s Over"
14. "Touch Feel Lose"
15. "Tina Toledo’s Street Walking Blues"
16. "Goodnight Hollywood Blvd."

“Everybody wants to go forever, I just want to burn up hard and bright.”

Gold goes against the grain, most reviewers look at Adam’s debut solo record Heartbreaker as his best (a real real good one), but I think Gold is where it’s at. Gold is ambitious, Adams as he’s stated “trying to make a modern classic.” A young super talented guy trying to make a classic rock record, in the vein of The Rolling Stone's Exile on Main Street or Springsteen's The River.

Actually I need to state for the record and for this record that I am not including the original intended “bonus” five tracks. Lost Highway released Gold as a single disc and (for the first pressing) included five songs originally intended to be on Gold as a “bonus disc”. The Gold I know and have ranked ends at Goodnight Hollywood Blvd.

In many ways this ambitious, sprawling, swinging for the fences feel to Gold is what turned many fans / reviewers off. But what if Gold were a homerun which I argue it is? A little cocky to say you’re trying to make a modern classic, but if you do then kudos to you, #8 of the 2000’s kudos.

I haven’t listened to an album from the 2000’s more than I’ve listened to Gold. When I go through that sound Rolodex in my mind and I hear that opening guitar on New York, New York then usually in the old player the CD goes. Gold is jammed full of energy and intimacy – you know - rock and roll. I remember the first time I listened all the way through I was just intimidated by how damn good Ryan Adams was. I still feel that way, that if this were the times of great records equalling radio play, Gold would have dominated the charts.

I remember listening to Gold with my wife on the way to the beach for our wedding. Windows down, young, turned on, radio turned up way up so you know it's got soul, RADIO..RADIO, in love, vulnerable…ALIVE

Singing out:
“I’m just saying Hi Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, to your answering bell.”
Gold, you big old cannon blast of "It's harder now that it's over now that the cuffs are off" or "I remember Christmas in the blistering cold in a church on the upper west side." or "Hard on her knees money in the bank". Gold, you are a friend of mine.


  1. 8. Ryan Adams - Love is Hell

    If Gold is Miss America - Love IS Hell is her emo sitting cutting herself and writing lyrics on her arm. On drugs. A little more artsy and weird. Maybe Gold is a better album but I've got a soft spot for Love IS Hell.


  2. This is where I think one's personal philosophy comes into play when making these lists. This album has a bunch of great songs on it, there is no doubt about it. In fact, I could argue that you can take songs 1-7, cut off the rest of it, and you'd have a top 10 of the '90s album right there. But to me, this album falters with all of the songs that are not merely filler or forgettable, but which hinder the album by being on there. Songs where it seems like Ryan is trying too hard. It's almost as it he included the outtakes for this album on the regular release. For some artists this would work, but to me it doesn't this time for Ryan. As in many things in life, less would have been more.

    That being said, those first seven songs are simply stellar, and showcase what Ryan is very good at doing. Somehow the kid knows how to write convincingly about having an ache in your heart, which I think many people resist when it comes from someone so young and brash. I remember soon after this album was released I went to see him in concert. He and his band came out and exploded into "Firecracker" and it just sounded amazing. It was one of those pure rock moments that I bring to mind every time I put this album on. The whole evening was an electrified version of his first two solo albums. The next year, he came to town again and it was a different story: pure attitude, yelling at the crowd and just a overly cocky guy who had a taste of the media spotlight. This is probably another reason that I'm up and down about this album. He was so great and then so bratty; the typical tortured artist. Or at least that's what he wanted us to think. And somewhere in the middle of those two shows (as you imply in your review) in where the album is. It can be hard to separate those personal experiences from one's opinion, and I'm not sure that they should be.

    So when this album is good, it is very good; among the best of the decade. But are we looking at the best songs off of the album, or how the album as a whole makes an impression on the listener?

  3. Definately how the whole album makes an impression, for this list it is all about "what is the feeling after I just listened to this whole record from beginning to end." Where I stated:

    "In many ways this ambitious, sprawling, swinging for the fences feel to Gold is what turned many fans / reviewers off. But what if Gold were a homerun which I argue it is?"

    For me there isn't a demarcation line where the album drops off or that it suffers from bloat - it's a big ol great record that all works. I like the over topness of it in a way.

    I couldn't imagine Gold without Gonna Make You Love Me or Harder Now That It's Over or Touch Feel Lose etc.. It's that ambitiousness and bigness that I like about it, but only because to my ears the whole thing works together (which is a rare feat and an extremely difficult thing to do - widdled down and intimate always has a better track record and that goes for my preference too).

    As for Ryan Adams the person, I can understand where your experience would weigh on this. I think I would have a hard time if I would have experienced the same thing.

    Thanks for the reply, keep em' coming!

  4. First of all, let me just get this out of the way, Ryan Adams is a extremely huge influence on me and the music I make. That being said, this is not my absolute favorite record of his- though I do think it succeeded at what he tried to do "make a great, modern classic, rock-n-roll album".

    Love Is Hell (Part 1 and 2)is my 2nd favorite Adams album- bar none. I've never felt someone's pain the way I did the first time I listened to that record- "Afraid Not Scared", "The Shadowlands" & "I See Monsters", I could go on, but I'll stop. I'll post my Top Ten List soon, b/c he'll be on there.

    BTW- I saw him play at Red Rocks w/The Cardinals and he introduced the song "When the Stars Go Blue" as the song that paid him enough that he could afford to keep touring and keep playing music.

    My favorite song on Gold- Wildflowers.

  5. #8- Amy Winehouse- Back To Black (2006)

    I know what you think of when you hear her name, it's so sad, because she is really a good singer (is it becoming obvious, I like the singers?) and songwriter, and if she weren't so messed up, I think she could be really great.
    On this album, she single-handedly brought back that old Motown/Soul sound of the 60's girl bands. Well not single-handedly, her backing band, The Dap Kings, helped her form that sound that won her so many awards.

    While her style is brash and in your face, these songs & the melodies themselves are old, which it why I think she connected to so many people- she was able to bring back the essence of "the old soul song" and make it sound new & fresh, yet as old and wise as that feeling ever was.

    I don't care how much crack this girl smokes, I still love this record.

  6. KG, Amy Winehouse - Just like The Strokes from previous comment I see this all over the best of the decade lists. I've been excited about hearing this one, this is just fuel for fire. I caught a twenty minute or so performance by her on this HD channel called Palladia, it was from some British festival and she and her band were real real good....

  7. I'll make you a copy if you want. There are actually a few songs I could leave off, but overall, the quality of this record is very good, in terms of songwriting & the music is outstanding.

    She's not your typical singer/songwriter either. She's rough around all the edges and has this hip hop quality to her lyrics, but her voice, man-it's like Lucinda, you just feel it & something happens. That's why her story is such a tragic one, cause she's SO messed up. I hate to see that kind of talent squandered.