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Thursday, April 4, 2013

48 Hours

"48 Hours was recorded exactly two weeks after Gold in 48 hours. It's an attempt at a real, honest country-rock record." - Ryan Adams (Q Magazine. September, 2007)

1. Hallelujah
2. Walls
3. Desire
4. Angelina
5. Like the Twilight (aka: Memphis/Drunk and Fucked Up)
6. Chin Up, Cheer Up
7. Born Yesterday
8. Blue (Ryan Adams/Julianna Raye)
9. One for the Rose
10. Karina (false start)
11. Karina
12. Little Moon

Ryan Adams - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Sheldon Gomberg - Bass
Ethan Johns - Drums, B3 Organ, Electric Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, Background Vocals
Greg Leisz - Steel Guitar, Dobro
Chris Stills - 12 String Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocals, B3 Organ
Julianna Raye - Background Vocals

Produced and Engineered by Ethan Johns at Cello Studios (Hollywood, CA)

The Background

Only days after Ryan Adams and Ethan Johns wrapped up sessions for Gold, were they back in the studio once again to record yet another new album.
48 Hours is a "lost" roots-rock masterpiece, full of wailing harmonicas, rich-heavy strummed 12-string guitars, and confident vocals and lyrics. Although the album has never been "officially" released as a whole, a few of the songs were included on Demolition and subsequent b-sides in 2002. Despite rumors of a future release, the album remains widely bootlegged, and has become a cult favorite among fans.

Prior to recording 48 Hours, Ryan Adams went to see Alanis Morissette in concert. According to an interview, the performance left him awestruck and inspired to work harder than ever. He quickly finished up a batch of new songs, called up producer - Ethan Johns, assembled a band, and paid $1200 to book a studio. Recorded and mixed in a mere two days in June of 2001, Ryan and Ethan teamed up with some of the same people who played and sang on Gold (Chris Stills and Julianna Raye) as well as some new faces (Greg Leisz and Sheldon Gomberg). Together, they created one of the best albums of Ryan's career!

Like The Suicide Handbook before it, 48 Hours has remained a favorite among many fans. As far back as 2002, there was talk of the album being officially released. In the beginning, Lost Highway Records was planning to put out a 4 CD box set featuring 48 Hours, The Suicide Handbook, The Sweden Sessions, and two albums with his fun-loving rock n' roll band - The Pinkhearts. Plans were eventually scrapped, and in its' place came Demolition - a single disc collection of songs from all four projects. Then five years later, the rumors mill started buzzing again. This time, there was talk of a 7 disc set, including liner notes written by the king of horror himself - Stephen King. Tentative release dates came and went, and since 2008, there has been very little talk of 48 Hours

Since leaving his old label in 2008, Ryan has regained control of his unreleased recordings. In interviews, he has mentioned that he plans to release 48 Hours the way it was originally intended: as an individual album. Although there are no plans to release it anytime soon, the album has been remixed, mastered, and is said to include several songs not on the bootleg recordings that currently circulate.

My Review

Although I've listened to this album hundreds of times over the past decade, 48 Hours remains one of my favorite Ryan Adams releases. The album's summery mix of 70's California singer-songwriters, early country-rock, and back-porch bluegrass; has never quite been duplicated by Ryan since. The closest counterpart to 48 Hours is probably Jacksonville City Nights, which was also recorded quickly. Despite being an excellent record in its' own rite, Ryan sounds a bit more road-weary and broken hearted on Jacksonville City Nights. While on 48 Hours, Ryan wails on the harmonica, and spits out vocals with youthful abandon; full of piss and vinegar, as though he's singing for his life. Although some of the songs deal with heartbreak, he brushes those feelings aside quickly, grabs another drink, and finds another pretty girl.

In my opinion, every song on this album is a highlight (with exception to "Little Moon"). As stated earlier, four of the songs have been officially released. As for the rest, "Walls" is regularly regarded by fans as one of the best songs in the Ryan Adams catalogue. While "Angelina" is a catchy country-rocker that could have made an excellent single. Ryan's backing band is also phenomenal on this album (notably Greg Leisz)! On the slower more folky material, such as the haunting "Born Yesterday", "Like the Twilight" (aka: "Drunk and Fucked Up"), and "Karina"; the band gives the songs plenty of room to breathe and never get in the way of the performance. The collaboration between everyone in the studio, and brevity of the sessions must have been amazing to witness; especially considering how fully formed these songs sound. 48 Hours is a must listen!

Very Esential! I can't stress enough how great this album is! Listen to it right away!

Key Tracks: ALL OF THEM!!!

Song Info

"Hallelujah", "Desire", and "Chin Up, Cheer Up" were later released on Demolition.

"Blue" was later released as a b-side on the single for "Nuclear"

"Born Yesterday" was originally recorded in 2000 for the unreleased album - Destroyer.

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