Sunday, March 18, 2007

When An Artist Should Be Picky

There is always the belief among fans of an artist or a band that we are entitled to hear as much of the music as possible. We devour b-sides, live tracks, alternate versions and one off cover songs like red ants at a picnic. We feel a god given right to critique every piece of music, however underproduced, because we know better than the writer of the song. My argument is this, there is a reason some material never makes it to a record...because it's crap. It didn't work in the studio so it was set aside to be reinvented later. When these things hit the internet they spoil the artist's work because they are falsely given the same treatment as a proper release.

Which brings me to Ryan Adams. I think Adams views himself as the Prince of the No Depression set. He has a pathological need to release everything he records. He threw out three records last year (0ne of which was a double album). It was creative overkill. Imagine what might have been if rahter than rushing three records into stores (not for capital gain like some other overindulgent bands, but for creative validation of his genius at writing in a variety of areanas and genres) he took his time and cultivated the best of those sessions into one album? How might that record have done in comparison. I know that Adams appears not to be interestedin commercial success, but from a pruely creative standpoint would it have been better for him to take his time.

Most Adams fans dismiss GOLD as too glossy and overproduced. But does it not contain arguably his best work? Can you think of anything off the last three albums with the delicacy and grace of "La Cienega Just Smiled" or "When The Stars Go Blue"? Maybe this makes me a commercial hack, but I actually like it when artists take their time. It's almost always worth it.

(m4a) Ryan Adams -- The Shadowlands (From Love is Hell)
This is a simply beautiful song, with gorgeous instrumentation. My wife absolutely loves it.

I wish the rest of this record could have been this good, this heartbreaking and this well thought out.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Cronhauer I have to disagree with you, but not on principle. I only sort of like Gold, but I loved all four of his CDs last year.

Basically you are right though. For me the worst embodiment of this was Bright Eyes. His two albums (Digital Ash and Wide Awake) went down really well and his record company then cynically went and released b-sides, live recordings and anything else they could get their hands on, just to milk fans while we waited for the new record. I feel completely ripped off because, as you say, most of this stuff just wasn't up to scratch at all.