The girls are away at their “Girls Only” Christmas Party leaving me at home with the cats for the afternoon. Time to get “Vinyl Sunday” kicked off in style. Of course, there’s always laundry to do, a quick trip to the Avondale to check one’s (un)lucky lotto ticket and the mountain of recycling in the garage to contend with but, for now, it’s just me, this “leftover” meatball sandwich, a bottle of Amsterdam Boneshaker* and my listening to the ‘Gold‘ album by Ryan Adams.
I’ve stated before that I’ve always been a bit hesitant to get “into” Ryan Adams. I think I’ve always been a bit intimidated by his hair. Anyway, after listening to his ‘1989‘ album (click HERE), I decided to maybe give him another chance. So when I found this album in the el cheapo bin at SRCvinyl Canada simply because it had a crease in the cover I figured that was a sign that this was meant to be. And for $5.00, hey, why not?
‘Gold’ is the second studio album (a double) by Adams, released in 2001 on Lost Highway Records. The album remains Adams’ best-selling album, certifying gold in the UK and going on to sell 364,000 copies in the U.S. and 812,000 worldwide. Sure that sounds all fine and dandy, promising even…but then there’s that hair on the album cover.
At the time of this albums release, Adams was being touted at “the shit” in the music business; he had a major-label deal, critics were in love with him, he got to date Winona Ryder and Alanis Morissette, Elton John went around telling everyone he was a genius, and his record company gave him carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. But listening ‘Gold‘, I get the impression that there are about a dozen other musicians Adams would love to be, and nearly all of them were at their peak in the early to mid-’70s. Adams’ final album with Whiskeytown, ‘Pneumonia‘, made it clear that he was moving beyond the scruffy alt-country of his early work, and this album documents his current fascination with ’70s rock. Half the fun of the album is playing “Spot the Influence”: ‘Answering Bell‘ is a dead ringer for Van Morrison (with fellow Morrison enthusiast Adam Duritz on backing vocals), ‘Tina Toledo’s Street Walkin’ Blues‘ is obviously modeled on the Rolling Stones, ‘Harder Now That It’s Over‘ ‘sounds like Harvest-period Neil Young, ‘New York, New York‘ resembles Stephen Stills in his livelier moments (Stephen’s son, Chris Stills, actually plays on the album), ‘Firecracker‘ has a rollicking Dylan-esque harmonica lick to it, and ‘Rescue Blues‘ and ‘La Cienega Just Smiled’ suggest the influence of Adams’ pal Elton John. So, yeah, hair or no hair there is lots of cool moments on the album.
High points on the album include the bouncy, breezy opener ‘New York, New York‘ and the plaintive ballad ‘When the Stars Go Blue‘ (which features a vocal turn reminiscent of Morrissey). Then there’s the angry blues of ‘Touch, Feel and Lose‘ and the happy-go-lucky ‘Gonna Make You Love Me‘. My favorite however is the 9 minute plus slow burner, ‘Nobody Girl‘. So as much as I hate to say it, “the Hair” might just be starting to grow on me.
*Not to mention my also trying to figure out how to use this new newfangled iPad thingee that Uncle Lance and Aunt Amy brought me for Christmas this weekend.