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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Pinkhearts Sessions I

1. Starting to Hurt
2. Mega-Superior Gold
3. Gimme a Sign
4. Gonna Win
5. Red Red Red Red Wine
6. Candy Doll
7. I Don't Wanna Work
8. Charmed
9. Enemy Fire (instrumental) (Ryan Adams/Gillian Welch)
10. Testy Testy (instrumental)
11. Around the World/Under the Bridge (parody)
12. Young Winds

Ryan Adams - Electric Guitar, Vocals, Piano
Bucky Baxter - Pedal Steel
John Paul Keith - Guitar
Billy Mercer - Bass
Brad Pemberton - Drums

Produced and Engineered by Dave Domanich
Assistant Engineered by Nate Russell
Recorded at Woodland Studios, Nashville, TN (December 2000)

The Background

When Ryan Adams moved from New York City to Nashville in 2000, he wasted no time writing, and recording new material. During that summer, he recorded what arguably remains his strongest solo album to date - Heartbreaker. Besides playing dozens of solo acoustic shows throughout the year both in the US and UK, somehow Ryan managed to form several new bands in Nashville. The most enduring of these groups were The Pinkhearts - a hard partying, rough and tumble, rock n' roll band with a slight roots edge; part Replacements, part Stones, and part Whiskeytown. Sometimes billed as LAX or The Sweetheart Revolution, they eventually became Ryan's primary backing band during the Gold tour, as well as for dates in 2003 where they opened for The Rolling Stones.

Following the recording of Heartbreaker, The Pinkhearts played regularly in Nashville clubs such as 12th and Porter and the Exit/In. These shows provided a testing ground for new material and gave Ryan the chance to rock out, after spending much of the last year playing quiet folk music. More than two dozen songs were written for this project, and recorded over the course of two sessions in 2000 and 2001.

The first group of sessions took place in Nashville, in December of 2000. Recorded only a couple months after Ryan's debut album was released, the songs from The Pinkhearts Sessions I were supposed to serve as the follow-up to HeartbreakerUnfortunately, Ryan recorded albums faster than his label could put them out, and the project was slowly lost in the shuffle. Following the first Pinkhearts sessions, came The Suicide Handbook, Gold and then quickly followed up with 48 Hours. In July of 2001, Ryan went back into the studio with The Pinkhearts for a second time, recording even more songs, including an early version of "Wonderwall". (See The Pinkhearts Sessions II)

After the second outing, the plan was to put out a single LP in mid-2002, compiling the best tracks from Pinkhearts I and II. Plans fell through, but a number of songs made their way onto Demolition - a one disc compilation of tracks from all of his unreleased albums. In interviews between 2003 and 2007, Ryan was adamant that The Pinkhearts would be released on a multi-disc box set featuring other "lost" albums. But since then, there has been no mention of the The Pinkhearts. After leaving his old label in 2008, he regained all the rights to release his unreleased material, and made several mentions that 48 Hours and The Suicide Handbook had been remixed and mastered for official release. But still there has been no mention of The Pinkhearts.

My Review

Although the music on The Pinkhearts Sessions I is far from groundbreaking, these rockin' party tunes are by far some of Ryan's catchiest and most foul-mouthed. This album paints a picture of drunken late night escapades spent stumbling around the streets of Nashville, getting in fights, and just having a blast. Ryan sounds as though he has a sore throat on every song, and his delivery only adds to the sleaziness of it all. Similar to Whiskeytown's punkier material, and Ryan's 2003 album - Rock n' Roll, The Pinkheart Sessions I is not for everyone. Those who aren't fans of his more rockin' material usually don't enjoy this album. But for those that do, The Pinkhearts Sessions I is a must listen! 

The album features a number of my favorite unreleased songs including: "Mega-Superior Gold" (which I named my site after!), "Gonna Win" (a romantic rocker originally recorded with Whiskeytown), "Red Red Wine" (Adams pulls off his best Paul Westerberg impression), "Candy Doll" (the Stones-iest of the bunch and a staple of early live shows), "I Don't Wanna Work" (uh! maybe one of the greatest punk songs ever! i used to sing it everyday!), and "Young Winds" (the lone solo track is a piano ballad that sounds a bit like "Sweet Lil Gal", and shares a similar bridge to "The Bar is a Beautiful Place").

Absolutely Essential!

Key Tracks:
"Starting to Hurt", "Mega-Superior Gold", "Gimme a Sign", "Gonna Win", "Red Red Red Red Wine", "Candy Doll", "I Don't Wanna Work", "Charmed", and "Young Winds"

Song Info:

"Starting to Hurt", and "Gimme a Sign" were later released on Demolition.

"Enemy Fire" was later re-recorded with vocals for Gold.

"Gonna Win" was also recorded by Whiskeytown on the unreleased - Fucker Demos.

"Starting to Hurt", "Mega-Superior Gold", "Gimme a Sign" and "Candy Doll" can also be found on The Pinkhearts II sessions from 2001. However "Candy Doll" is the only one that was re-recorded and features sax playing from Bobby Keys.

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