Ryan Adams – The Pinkhearts Sessions 1 & 2

The Pinkhearts Sessions 1 & 2 (Unreleased, rec. 2000-2001)


1. Starting To Hurt 2. Mega-Superior Gold 3. Gimme A Sign 4. Win 5. Red Red Red Red Wine 6. Candy Doll 7. I Don’t Wanna Work 8. Charmed 9. Enemy Fire (Instrumental) 10. Testy, Testy 11. Around The Word/Under The Bridge 12. Young Winds

1. Blowin’ The Coug 2. Blue And Shy 3. Candy Doll 4. Down At The Movies 5. Fuck It… I Broke Your Cat 6. Gimme A Sign 7. Interstellar Collider 8. Jesus (Don’t Touch My Baby) 9. Mega-Superior Gold 10. My Baby’s Going Home 11. Nuclear 12. On My Way 13. I Took Your Puppies To A Race Car Track 14. Saturday Night 15. Song For Keith 16. Starting To Hurt 17. Tennessee Sucks


OUCH! I inexplicably managed to throw out my neck the other day by doing nothing but sleeping, and only after a steady dose of ibuprofen and heating pad applications have I begun to once again regain the ability to rotate my head without sending horrible pain shooting though my upper body. So I guess you could say I’m feeling a lot better. But then I put on this pile of crap and it’s like Ryan Adams is stomping on the humungous knot in my neck with a steel-toed boot. What a dick.

OK, so I’m exaggerating. The suckiness of The Pinkhearts Sessions is hardly that dire, especially since they’re just a bunch of outtakes and nobody has ever had to pay Ryan Adams money for them so who cares how many awful new wave and classic rock facsimiles and aimless instrumental jams it’s got on it and therefore I have no reason to listen to it, much less review it further. Thus, I, Brett Favre, hereby announce my retirement from this review. I’m also going to start insisting that people pronounce my last name correctly, since nobody seems to notice that the “r” actually comes after the “v.” But you hick sons of bitches can’t resist a hard “r” and the proper pronunciation sounds icky and French, so you fuckers just keep on mispronouncing it. Pshaw, I say.

(*12 seconds pass*)

Hey, everyone. I was just kidding back there about all that retirement stuff. Any cheerleaders out there? Here’s a picture of my dick for y’all:

It’s much bigger in person.

Sorry about that, guys. This is Jeremy again. Brett had to go run out and get some Just For Men for his stubble, so I’m back. The Pinkhearts Sessions were, shockingly, recorded with a backing band dubbed the Pinkhearts, which consisted of Ryan on guitar and vocals, drummer Brad Pemberton (who later became the drummer in one of Ryan’s later and better-known backing bands, the Cardinals), bassist Billy Mercer, and multi-instrumentalist Bucky Baxter. The first sessions, recorded in late 2000, featured John Paul Keith on lead guitar; the second, recorded in mid-2001, featured (much better) lead guitar by old Whiskeytown fill-in Brad Rice. They toured throughout the early 2000s as Ryan Adams and the Pinkhearts and by some accounts frequently tore up some ass on stage. However, the album Ryan planned to release with them never saw the light of the day, which is probably for the best since most of the songs he wrote for them blow. Seriously, how many mid-tempo, riffless rock songs with completely unmemorable vocal melodies can I be expected to listen to without wanting to smash my head against the wall? And yeah, that description is adequate for about 80% of the songs on here. Even the rockers I like, comparatively at least (like the 70s Stones-style rockers “Candy Doll” and “Mega-Superior Gold”) are just plain trashy, reduced to, at best, guilty pleasure status by the glitzy production, cheap sounding guitar distortion, doinky synths, and general lack of grit. It all sounds so frighteningly insincere that it’s a little hard to believe that this is the same guy who recorded the close-to-the-bone Heartbreaker just months before this. And the fact that it is is almost insulting… how dare this guy touch our hearts and then turn right around and put us on with this shit? Sadly, this unfortunate swinging of the pendulum is sort of the norm for Ryan’s solo career.

Oh sure, not everything sucks as much as sludge like “Down At The Movies” or “Starting To Hurt” (I absolutely loathe this song and its atrocious vocals, and can’t believe it was chosen for official release on Demolition. All I hear every time that big, angsty chorus comes around is “It’s starting to *RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASP*). The airy, chugging “Nuclear,” later released as a single when it appeared on Demolition, is pretty solid, particularly the rather unique-sounding pedal steel/synth string intro. The electronic drone “Jesus (Don’t Touch My Baby)” is at least interesting and creative if not brilliant, with its use of major seconds in the harmonies to create a rueful, desolate feel. The wistful solo piano ballad “Young Winds” is also quite pretty. But lemme tell you: spread across these two discs, you’ll find songs that intentionally parody/ape The Ramones (“I Don’t Wanna Work”), The Red Hot Chili Peppers (“Around The World/Under The Bridge”), The Clash (“Fuck It… I Broke Your Cat”), My Bloody Valentine (“Interstellar Collider”), Lou Reed (“Saturday Night”), and the Rolling Stones (“Song For Keith”). These (except for “Interstellar Collider,” which sucks) are by far the most entertaining and melodic songs the Pinkhearts recorded during these sessions (especially “Song For Keith,” which is total Stonesfan porn. I can’t think of a better line than “Go get my copy of Let It Bleed/I’ve got some papers and weed”). The lesson from this: Ryan and the Pinkhearts were a lot better at fucking around than they were at doing anything else – like making good original music.

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