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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Q Division Demos

1. Abigail
2. Gimme Sunshine
3. The Rescue Blues
4. Just Like a Whore
Idiots Rule the World

Produced by Van Alston
Recorded at Q Division Studios, Somerville, MA

Background Vocals on "Idiots Rule the World" by Miranda Brown

The Background

These stripped down demos were recorded on September 29th of 2000. Ryan had just wrapped up his first of two nights performing at the intimate - Kendall Cafe in Cambridge, MA. After the gig, he was approached by the owner of Q Division Studios, who offered to record him for free of charge later that night. Ryan and his manager at the time - Van Alston decided to take him up on the offer and recorded a total of six songs until 5 the next morning. According to Miranda Brown, who was at the show and invited to the studio, there was one more song with Ryan on guitar, that was recorded but never released.

Less than two weeks after the release of Heartbreaker, Ryan was already performing plenty of newly written material. With the exception of "The Rescue Blues", all of these songs were written no more than 3 weeks prior to this session. "Idiots Rule the World" and "Gimme Sunshine" were only a week old, while "Abigail" was either written on September 29th, or only days prior. 

There's something very cool and haunting about these tracks. With a fair amount of tape hiss, lots of reverb, the occasional bum note, and Ryan's emotional performance of these very new tunes, this recording is one of a kind among the plethora of material in Ryan Adams Demo Planet! "Gimme Sunshine" would later be released as a bonus cut on Love is Hell. While "The Rescue Blues" would be recorded the following year for Gold.

My Review
The Q Division Demos is a sweet little EP that often gets lost in the shuffle amongst all of the other official and unofficial releases from Ryan's early solo career. Between the release of Heartbreaker in September, 2000 and Gold in September, 2001, Ryan also recorded sessions with his Nashville rock n' roll buddies - The Pinkhearts and the amazing Suicide Handbook recordings with Bucky Baxter. Both recordings have remained widely bootlegged over the years.

These demos are very sparse and seem to be in their early stages of development. All the songs were recorded with only vocals, guitar, piano, and some light reverb effects. For the most part, the piano and guitar playing is slightly rough at times, and would improve as the songs were performed live more and re-recorded. Still, Ryan's incredibly heartfelt singing; the subtle yet very effective background vocal parts; along with the tape hiss and rawness of these recordings - which I feel helps bring out the helpless nature of these sad songs, makes it a must own! The songs are all excellent and definitely rooted in the same themes and feel of Hearbreaker. The Q Division Demos would have made a nice companion bonus CD to his debut album.


Key Tracks: "Abigail", "Gimme Sunshine", "Idiots Rule the World"

Song Info

"Gimme Sunshine" was later re-recorded with a full band and released as a bonus track on Love is Hell

"Idiots Rule the World" was later re-recorded for the unreleased album - The Suicide Handbook, but has yet to be officially released in any form.

"The Rescue Blues" was re-recorded and officially released on the album - Gold. It was also recorded once prior to the Q Division Demos for Exile on Franklin Street. This recording of the song was released on a limited edition EP also titled The Rescue Blues.

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