Ryan Adams
Rock 'n' Roll


2.5
average

Review

by Amanda Murray STAFF
May 6th, 2005 | 11 replies | 6,445 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


To say the least I wasn't expecting this album. After having heard all three of Adams' prior releases, I was expecting more of the same (and planning to enjoy it). Rock n Roll is a complete change of pace, as the title suggests. There were songs on Gold that hinted at his alternate inspirations, but rather than being a tribute to Bob Dylan or Van Morrison, Rock n Roll echoes bands as diverse as the Smiths and New York Dolls (not that different in and of themselves if you consider Morrissey, I suppose). Adams certainly does wear his influences on his sleeve, and doesn't attempt to hide it.

Rock n Roll could be called a satirical record if you consider the titles alone, but seeing as Adams is trying to make a true "rock and roll" record, it doesn't quite fit. The titles seem to be more tributary than parodistic, harking back to influences such as Pink Floyd ("Wish You Were Here"), the Beatles/Shirelles ("Boys"), and the oddly placed Strokes reference on "This is It" which is the easiest defence for the satirical title argument.

Rock n Roll is another one of those modern records where the influence is evident, but doesn't feel like a copy. The Smiths influence on "Anybody Wanna Take Me Home" is noticeable, but it seems more like the spirit of the Smiths is felt than an actual musical imitation. Adams modernises his influences enough that it doesn't feel like a weak band trying to cash in on trendy influences.

But Rock n Roll still isn't a great record. It's meandering (and yes I'm aware that only the odd song is over four minutes in length). It just feels disconnected. Too many different sounds not enough consistency (which sounds odd to say, as the songs aren't all that different from each other).

It seems like a great concept album. The history of Rock and Roll, in one CD. The titles are there, the music styles are there. But the songs themselves aren't anything special. It might be Adams' biggest problem. He's a prolific songwriter, he releases an overwhelming amount of material. But it often feels as though he releases material before it's ready. If he had laboured over Rock n Roll, we definitely would have received a different product. Would it have been any better? We'll never know.

I've given this album 2.5. 3 might have been more appropriate, but I've had over a year to consider the merits of this album, and it's just below average. For all this album could be, he just doesn't quite pull it off.

Recommended Tracks

So Alive - The lead single off the album, this strikes me as one of the best alternative songs he's ever recorded. Not as good as his alt-country material, but solid enough.

Anybody Wanna Take Me Home - If you have Love is Hell, you are already familiar with an extended version of this song. One of the standout tracks here (at least for me), it has a similar enough sound to So Alive. Possibly why I like it.

Rock n Roll - Despite being the title track, it is funnily enough the antithesis of stereotypical loud, brash rock music. A dispirited take on life as a rock star, it is both lyrical and musically simplistic but also honest and depressing. A precursor to Love is Hell if I've ever seen one.



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user ratings (74)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
MxShredder (4)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
morrissey
Moderator
May 17th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

bump

mx
Moderator
May 17th 2005


733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'd have to disagree with you here. I think that anybody wanna take me home is one of the worst songs on the album, and that so alive isn't that great. In addition, I think that the album deserves 3/3.5 stars, and is a pretty solid effort.

Personally, I think the best songs are 'Luminol' , 'Boys', and 'Burning Photographs'

mx
Moderator
May 17th 2005


733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Additionally, I think that you have to review this album on its merits alone, and not on what it could have been / was meant to be. Is this a concept album? Maybe. Is it music that stands by itself? Yes.

I agree that it is not cohesive, and that as a whole it is not a solid effort. But the individual songs are well crafted, and represent a good shift for the chameleon-like Adams. It's hard not to say that he doesn't pull the Rock style off while, and that this isn't just another example of his versatility.

To me this album is the kind of album you put on your ipod, and crank out the singles and solo songs that you like the best.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
June 8th 2005


2125 Comments


2.8/5

morrissey
Moderator
October 9th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

But mx, that's the problem. The songs themselves aren't that good. Of course it's really just a difference of opinion, but this is his weakest collection of songs, whether you listen to them as an album or shuffle it in with others.

It isn't unlistenable, I just expected more. He's certainly redeemed himself since I wrote this review, (back at the end of April I believe), he's released two great albums so far this year. So I've no complaints.

morrissey
Moderator
October 9th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah it's tough because even though I'll defend Ryan Adams beyond anything, this album isn't worth defending. Get Heartbreaker.

edit: this rating thing is broken, I rate "average" but it comes out as 2, I mean 2.5.This Message Edited On 10.09.05

morrissey
Moderator
December 16th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I've been listening to a lot of Ryan Adams lately, thought I'd come update my opinion.

This album troubles me. When I look at in comparison to Adams' other works, it doesn't even chart. But I agree with mx on some points, when I just listen to a song or two I don't find them to be lacking in quality. But when I listen to them in the context of the album, they suck.

Shuffle it is.

Strangely, one of "So Alive" and "Does Anybody Wanna Take Me Home?" would probablymake my top five favourite Adams' tracks. Odd.

masada
December 16th 2005


2733 Comments




Isola
November 13th 2006


421 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love luminol, amazing song.

ncherf
April 11th 2008


6 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

When listened outside of the context of Ryan Adams' other work, this album can kinda work. Take warning of any song cowritten by Parker Posey, especially Note to Self Don't Die (my vote for all time worst Ryan Adams song).

"So Alive" & "Burning Photographs" are the best songs (my personal fav is Burning Photos). "Does Anybody Wanna Take Me Home?" is good, but the better version is on Love Is Hell.

This one's growin' on me!

Happy_Squirrel
June 20th 2008


7 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually love this album. I think it's one of his most consistent and it's one of my favorite stripped down rock albums by any artist. I have to disagree with the reviewing about the something: I think this album would have been worse had he slaved over it. I think you can hear the urgency in the music and I think it fits this collection of songs perfectly.



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