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Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Pinkhearts Sessions II

1. Blowin' the Coug (Instrumental)
2. Blue and Shy
3. Candy Doll
4. Down at the Movies
5. Fuck It...... I Broke Your Cat
6. Gimme a Sign
7. Intersellar Collider
8. Jesus (Don't Touch My Baby)
9. Mega-Superior Gold
10. Tomorrow (Ryan Adams/Carrie Hamilton)
11. Nuclear
12. On My Way (Instrumental)
13. I Took Your Puppies to a Race Car Track
14. Saturday Night
15. Song for Keith
16. Starting to Hurt
17. Tennessee Sucks

Ryan Adams - Electric Guitar, Vocals, Piano
Bucky Baxter - Pedal Steel
Brad Rice - Guitar
Billy Mercer - Bass
Brad Pemberton - Drums
Bobby Keys - Saxophone (on "Candy Doll" and "Saturday Night")
Dave Rawlings - Guitar (on "Tomorrow")
Gillian Welch - Background Vocals (on "Tomorrow")

Produced by Dave Domanich
Engineered by Warren Peterson and Chad Brown
Recorded at Javelina Recording Studios, Nashville, TN (July, 2001)

The Background
(continued from The Pinkhearts Sessions I)

After a busy first six months of 2001 spent writing, playing shows, and recording three new albums (The Suicide Handbook, Gold, and 48 Hours), Ryan teamed up with The Pinkhearts once again, and went back in the studio to record a second batch of new songs. In the end, seven tracks from these two sessions would be officially released - six on Demolition (including first single - "Nuclear"), and another ("Song for Keith") as a b-side. Still, there were plenty of notable songs left over from these sessions.

Like The Pinkhearts Sessions I, Part 2 includes a similar lineup, with the exception of Ryan's touring guitarist Brad Rice stepping in for John Paul Keith. There are also some notable guest appearances including Ryan's Nashville pals - Gillian Welch, and David Rawlings; as well as long-time Rolling Stones saxophonist - Bobby Keys. In the end, these 17 songs feature a more wide ranging feel in comparison to The Pinkhearts Sessions I.

Over the years, Ryan Adams has routinely said that the Pinkhearts recordings were meant to be released as a single disc album, compiling the best of both sessions. The finished record was supposed to include a few songs that are not on these bootleg recordings - notably an early recording of the Oasis cover - "Wonderwall" (later to be re-recorded for the album - Love is Hell). There are also a handful of songs that the band played live in concert that didn't surface on either Pinkhearts session disc. The most notable of these is the fittingly goofy rocker - "Everybody's Talkin' Bout Shania Twain".

According to leaflets in the original liner notes for Gold, the Pinkhearts album was tentatively scheduled to come out in the middle of 2002 on Lost Highway Records. Unfortunately, Ryan's original vision for the album temporarily fell through. And in its' place, the label assembled a compilation called Demolition, which served as a single disc sampler of Ryan's numerous unreleased recordings from 2000-2002. Over the next five years, there were occasional whispers about a new box set of unreleased albums called 20:20, which was to include the Pinkhearts album. However since 2008, there has been no mention of The Pinkhearts in any interviews or articles. The good news though is that Ryan eventually left his old label, and regained the rights to release his unreleased music as he sees fit. He has made mentions of other "lost" albums like 48 Hours and The Suicide Handbook, already being re-mixed, and remastered, with new songs and new artwork. He plans to release these individually at some point in his career.

For more background info, see: The Pinkhearts Sessions I

My Review

The Pinkhearts Sessions II (or as it is sometimes referred to - Decoration Day), is one of my favorite unofficial Ryan Adams releases currently available. But like the first sessions, it's not necessarily for everyone. If you didn't care for Rock n' Roll, then you might want to sit this one out. But even if you just sorta like Rock n' Roll, you'll probably love this! Here the band sounds slightly more in sync with each other, and Ryan's vocals aren't nearly as whiskey soaked and gravelly. 

The Pinkhearts sound as though they're starting to come into their own on this disc, and it would have been interesting to see what they would have done, if they had continued recording. Short punk blasts like the ridiculous "Fuck It...I Broke Your Cat", and the sinister yet infectious - "I Took Your Puppies to the Race Car Track" ("I started taking valium/But ended up on crack, cocaaaiiine") sound as though they couldn't have been written by any other band! "Saturday Night", which according to Ryan, barely missed being included on Demolition, is the quintessential theme song for the Pinkhearts. Ryan sounds like Lou Reed (circa: Coney Island Baby) as he raps and croons about having fun in Nashville with his bandmates. You can tell this song is pure fun for the group to play, as Ryan can be heard coming close to cracking up laughing as he sings: "Shiiiiit, it's either here or L.A.". The band backs him perfectly providing a laid back, late night, jazzy sound bought to the forefront by Bobby Keys sax playing (which resembles "Waiting on a Friend" by the Stones). 

While seven of the songs on this disc have been released officially, and another couple are repeats from Volume 1, there are still a number of excellent songs left over. Ryan continues to show he has a knack for writing catchy rock hooks on tunes like "Blue and Shy" and one of his best space-inspired rockers - "Intersellar Collider". Even if someday, Ryan does decide to release a single disc Pinkhearts album, there are bound to be a handful of great tracks that don't make the final cut. This is a must hear!

Absolutely Essential!

Key Tracks:
Pretty much all of them except for the two instrumentals ("Blowin' the Coug" and "On My Way")

Song Info

"Gimme a Sign", "Jesus (Don't Touch My Baby)", "Tomorrow", "Starting to Hurt", "Tennessee Sucks", and "Nuclear" were later released on Demolition.

"Song for Keith" was later released as a b-side on one of the singles for "Nuclear".

"Candy Doll", "Gimme a Sign", "Mega-Superior Gold", and "Starting to Hurt" can also be found on The Pinkhearts I Sessions. However all of the tracks are the same except for "Candy Doll" which doesn't feature sax playing from Bobby Keys.

Another song titled "Saturday Night" can also be found on the unreleased album - Darkbreaker (aka: The Elizabethtown Sessions). However this is a different song.

An early version of "Wonderwall" was also recorded for The Pinkhearts Sessions II but this version remains unreleased. Eventually, the Oasis cover song would be re-recorded for the album - Love is Hell.

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