Posts Tagged With: 1989

Ryan Adams’ “Prisoner” — Crazy 8’s

DRACWAK.jpgIn terms of reviews, Ryan Adams’ Prisoner stands as his best-received album in quite some time, picking up glowing notices far and wide (even from the likes of cynical old me). But all that acclaim has not translated into a U.S. chart breakthrough, at least not yet.

In the March 11 Billboard 200 album-sales chart, Prisoner debuts at No. 8 with 45,000 copies sold, which puts him right behind veteran R&B man Charlie Wilson and ahead of Alison Krauss. A top-10 debut is a good showing, but this is still short of the No. 4 debut and peak of 2014’s Ryan Adams, which also sold 45,000 copies in its first week in September 2014; as well as his Taylor Swift 1989 tribute, which opened with 56,000 copies out of the gate in September 2015 to debut/peak at No. 7.

Of course, when it comes to sales figures and chart positions, the long game of where you finish is ultimately a lot more important than where you start. Ryan Adams debuted high but quickly dropped off the charts, eventually selling 134,000 copies in its first year of release. 1989 followed a similar pattern and hit 115,000 in sales.

We’ll see where Prisoner stands a year from now.

UPDATE (3/7/2017): So far, Ryan’s debut-high-and-fall-fast pattern is holding true to form. Week two finds Prisoner plummeting all the way down to No. 54 on the March 18 Billboard 200.

UPDATE #2 (3/14/2017): Falling even faster — down to No. 132 in week three, the March 25 chart.

UPDATE #3 (3/21/2017): Well, that was quick! After just three weeks on the Billboard 200, Prisoner falls all the way off and is nowhere to be found on the April 1 chart.

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“1989 Is Hell”

The “Ryan Adams Covers 1989″ concept grows ever more meta. The latest wrinkle comes from Babetown, (Jessica Leibowitz and Danny Ross), a self-described “surf-rock duo based in New York.” They’ve made 1989 Is Hell, a remake of Ryan’s 2003 album Love Is Hell with the songs rearranged as Taylor Swift-style pop — including “Wonderwall,” which is itself a cover of a 1995 Oasis song. Wow.

Release date is Aug. 31, but you can preview three of its tracks below or on the group’s Soundcloud. And Ryan himself has given the project his enthusiastic blessing via Instagram post (“SO RAD!”), which is also below.

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Ryan Adams goes beyond “Fragile”

Last fall, when he was doing interviews for his cover version of Taylor Swift’s 1989, Ryan Adams said he already had his next album in the can. In that initial rush of excitement, he was calling it “the most fragile thing I ever did.” Apparently, however, it’s so fragile that it will most likely never see the light of day because it seems that Ryan has already gone beyond it.

Following up several weeks of hints about an in-progress recording project, Ryan sent out the Tweet below this morning, apparently promising a fall release. As for what will become of the album I’m calling Fragile (not to mention the possible Heartbreaker Deluxe Box Edition and everything else in his growing Blackhole backlog)… well, there’s just no telling.

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Meanwhile, on Planet Pitchfork…

…Seven out of 10 readers (or at least respondents to its annual Readers’ Poll for 2015) prefer Taylor Swift’s 1989 to DRA 1989. Guess it’s not just Grammy voters that like Swift’s original better.

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Ryan Adams reviews the reviewer

Ryan Adams talks a good game about ignoring critics and bad reviews, but the truth is he can be as thin-skinned as anyone else in response to discouraging words. For example, there’s the tweet below (which Ryan has apparently since deleted), inspired by some gratuitous social-media snark about DRA 1989 from New York Times critic Jon Caramanica — who also had some underwhelming things to say about that album when it came out back in September. Ouch…

UPDATE: Some responses from Carmanica are also below. It seems that he, too, is now Blocked By Ryan Adams on Twitter — and taking it in stride.

 

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Grammy love for the Wheel, but not Ryan Adams

Grammy2016In the media blitz that accompanied the release of DRA 1989 back in September, there was some hyperbolic speculation about Grammy Awards — that the album might get Ryan Adams a few nominations, maybe even for album of the year to set up a Grammy showdown against Taylor Swift’s original 1989. But that turned out to be wishful thinking.

Grammy nominations are out today and Swift checks in with seven total, including the categories of record, song and (yes) album of the year. So she certainly did her part — but Ryan, alas, did not make the cut. He didn’t pick up any nominations this go-round, which means he’ll have to wait at least another year to win his first Grammy (Ryan has been nominated seven times since 2001 but has yet to win one).

AATWKingEven if Ryan wasn’t nominated this year, however, a handful of others from North Carolina were, most notably Fayetteville-raised hip-hop star J. Cole and Carolina Chocolate Drops co-founder Rhiannon Giddens. You can find a recap of North Carolina-connected nominations here.

On a personal level, meanwhile, there is a bit of Grammy news in my book-related world. My “Comin’ Right at Ya” co-writer/subject/star Ray Benson’s Asleep at the Wheel is up for best recording package with his group’s third and latest Bob Wills tribute album Still The King: Celebrating The Music Of Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys, alongside albums by Florence + the Machine, Snoop Dogg, Alagoas and the late Elvis Presley.

The Grammys will be presented on Feb. 15 in Los Angeles. If the Wheel wins, this would be the group’s first since 2000 (which was in this same category — for another Wills tribute, 1999’s Ride With Bob) and 10th overall. To read about the star-crossed night when Asleep at the Wheel won that very first Grammy way back in 1979, click the EXCERPTS link here.


 

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DRA 1989: off the charts, but onto tape

DRA1989tapeThis week, DRA 1989 completes its chart run (or at least the initial leg of it) by disappearing, falling from last week’s No. 138 ranking all the way off the Dec. 5 Billboard 200 after eight weeks. It had a solid No. 7 debut in late September but then dropped every week thereafter — except for a brief one-week sales spike when the physical version came out a few weeks back. Except for that, it pretty much mirrored the chart performance of 2014’s Ryan Adams, which debuted at No. 4 and was gone after seven weeks.

But who knows, maybe DRA 1989 will get another bump up when it’s released next month on…cassette. Yes, that’s right, DRA 1989 really is being released on that outdated hair-metal-era artifact, the humble audiocassette tape, which is fitting given Ryan’s ongoing run of ’80scentric tributes.

Anyway, the DRA 1989 cassette is priced at $12.98 (which also includes an MP3 digital download) and will be available Dec. 11, according to Amazon. Sounds like a nice Christmas gift for Ryan completists, and it would even go well with this!

 

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Old habits die hard…

1989CDBecause I am a sucker whose dotage is drawing ever nearer, I actually got in my motor vehicle and drove to my local indie record store this afternoon, just like we used to do back in the old days way back when. And once there, I procured a copy of DRA 1989 — not on the cooler-than-thou format of vinyl, but on old-fangled, outdated compact disc.

While the CD version of DRA 1989 was only recently released, I’ve had these 13 tracks in my iTunes for more than a month; since right before the Sept. 21 release date for the digital version, in fact, which begs the question: Why bother getting a CD, then?

I guess it’s because on some level, albums still never feel quite “real” to me until I have them on an actual physical object. Maybe that’s Pavlovian habit, or some sort of loyalty to my favorite artists, but there you have it. Or rather, there I have it. Get your own copy.

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Ryan Adams enters academia’s hallowed halls

SpanisDedRecently I happened across a picture someone posted on social media, of the thank-you page of a Master’s Thesis — in Spanish. Here it is on the right, and the relevant part roughly translates as:

Finally to all my friends for all the support they have given me, you know who you are. And why not…to Ryan Adams, Gary Moore and John Lennon for inspiration when I needed it most.

Figuring there was a story there, I got in touch with the author, a young man named Sebastián Chiwo from San Luís Potosí, México, to ask about his Ryan Adams fandom. As you can see below, he had a lot to say! It’s pretty cool that Ryan’s name is enshrined in an academic document on file at the library at Universidad Autonoma de San Luís Potosí, even though he himself didn’t go to college. Ryan’s fanbase is not just enthusiastic, but geographically widespread and diverse.

The first time I ever learned about Ryan Adams was in September 2001 when I was 13, after the tragedy of 9/11 — from the cool and lovely “New York, New York” video with many shots of New York City and a young guy with an acoustic guitar in his hands. I was very confused because my parents were fans of Bryan Adams, and I didn’t pay attention at first because I was busy learning classical guitar. But I became bored and began learning rock and blues, especially songs by John Lennon.

One afternoon I turned on the radio and heard a very beautiful guitar riff and voice, which the deejay said was “So Alive” by Ryan Adams. From that day, the music of this crazy guy has had an important effect on me, the guitar parts and lyrics both. Soon after was my father’s birthday and my mother gave me money to buy him a present. I went to Sears and saw a beautiful Zippo lighter that I thought could be perfect. But then I stopped in the music section and Ryan’s “Rock ‘N Roll” album was waiting for me. So I bought “Rock ‘N Roll” for me and the newly released “Let It Be…Naked” for my father. I think he enjoyed the CD more than he would have the lighter. After that, I was also listening to “Love Is Hell,” “Cold Roses,” “Easy Tiger” and so on.

Years later, I was in a severe depression. My only reason to live was playing guitar every night, for very little money — just for getting drunk and high. I can’t believe now that I was doing those stupid things. One of the few good memories of that time was playing all the “Love Is Hell” stuff every night; not the songs exactly, but the main guitar riffs. The feelings were the same, “poor guy” is what I was thinking about me. I knew Ryan’s life had been crazy and wild between “Heartbreaker” and “Easy Tiger,” but also sad like mine.

SebastianAfter a series of personal tragedies, I got clean and began working hard in my profession. Ryan’s music was always there, albums like “Ashes and Fire,” “III/IV,” “Orion,” “Ryan Adams,” “1984” and “1989.” They gave me a more optimistic (and weird) way of living. I bought a denim jacket and customized it with logos of OCP, Weyland-Yutany, Nuclear and Misfits Fan Club. Guitar is still an important part of my life and I’m always asking questions about equipment and guitar techniques of the guitar players in Ryan’s bands — Neal Casal, Brad Rice, Johnny McNabb, Ethan Johns, Mike Viola, etc.

ThesisNowadays I am an electronics engineer majoring in instrumentation and control systems, with a Master of Science in electrical engineering with a major in biophotonics and medical optics. I completed both studies in the physical sciences department at the Autonomous University of San Luís Potosí. My personal tribute to and acknowledgement of Ryan is a little paragraph in my Master’s Thesis, “Design and Construction of a Portable Raman System For Non-Invasive Medical Diagnosis.”

Definitely, Ryan’s music is the soundtrack of my life, and he is a very strong influence on me as a person. I commonly cite his statement, “Stay Weird,” in my own life.

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Halloweenhead: The next generation

DRAjrSay hey to Liam Gladden, age 5 and very possibly the most avid Ryan Adams superfan in his demographic. Young Liam lives in Salisbury, Md., with his family including his mother, Mandy Gladden, who does a parenting blog. She writes:

We started to play the (self-titled) and “Ashes and Fire” albums at home and in the car. Liam really started to love the songs. His favorites are “Gimme Something Good,” “Ashes and Fire,” “Dirty Rain” and “Kindness.” He really loves them all and plays drums and guitar while he sings (my husband is a drummer and Liam also has his own set and a little guitar). He loves the “1989” cover album and sings all those songs, too.

Liam watches Ryan on YouTube and says he wants to see Ryan in concert. He asked to be Ryan (he calls him by his first name) for Halloween and also to grow his hair out like Ryan’s. We got him the wig instead. He’s so excited to be Ryan and can’t wait for his “Ryan sunglasses” to come in this week to complete his costume. My other two kids like the music, but not like Liam does. He’s quite the little fan.

Come Saturday night, I bet this kid cleans up on Halloween candy.

FOLLOWUP (10/31/2015): It turns out that Liam’s big sister is going as Taylor Swift.

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