Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Album Review: Ryan Adams – Suicide Handbook (unreleased)

A man whose record company couldn’t keep up with his output, Ryan Adams recorded this double album, The Suicide Handbook in early 2001. It appears to be an almost entirely solo collection (some accompaniment from Bucky Baxter here and there), stretched over 21 songs, all with a quite similar mood. This can make it seem rather daunting to listen to. Some of the tracks here ended up on Gold, such as Wild Flowers, La Cienega Just Smiled, Just Saying Hi (aka Answering Bell), while others were held back for Demolition (She Wants To Play Hearts, Dear Chicago) and Off Broadway wasn’t released till 2007’s Easy Tiger. As far as I’m concerned, the versions here are superior to the ones on Gold. While that album suffered from over-production, here the songs are sparse, mainly just voice and guitar and they thrive. At least 11 of the other songs have not appeared on any official release, and they are well worth seeking out. Ryan Adams sings and plays guitar with real sensitivity, very much in ‘troubadour’ mode. Some of the stronger ones include For No One (aka Long and Sad Goodbye) and Cracks In A Photograph, helped by some piano touches, and You Don’t Know Me which features great slide guitar from Bucky Baxter. Piano ballad Idiots Rule The World has something of the feel he realized more fully on Love Is Hell. The better known tracks are equally strong, La Cienega Just Smiled, one of the stronger tracks on Gold, works well in almost demo form and final track Dear Chicago, sounding indistinguishable from the Demolition version sounds great with its ringing guitars and breathy vocals. Might be worth giving this one a proper release?