Ryan Adams, musical legend or precocious twit? I think there’s an argument to be made either way – but one thing there’s no argument on is that Adams early Band, Raleigh, NC’s Whiskeytown, made some of the best damn alt.country music in it’s short existence.
Whiskeytown’s 1997 major label debut, Strangers Almanac will be re-released in a deluxe, 2-CD edition on March 4, 2008 on Geffen/UMe/Mood Food/Outpost.
During the time of the recording the band was led by a 22-year-old Adams and was in a certain level of turmoil: There was a new rhythm section (bassist Jeff Rice and drummer Steven Terry joined Adams, Cary and Wandscher), band member fiddler-singer-songwriter Caitlin Cary was in a relationship with the former drummer Eric “Skillet” Gilmore, Adams had been offered his own solo deal and they had no guitars because they had been misplaced during the trip to Nashville. The acoustic guitar heard on Strangers Almanac was bought in a pawnshop.
Disc one is the original album plus five previously unreleased live public radio performances. 17 of the 19 recordings on the second disc were previously unreleased recordings and are from the pre-production sessions for Strangers Almanac (commonly referred to as the Barn’s On Fire sessions). Intimate acoustic demos of “16 Days,” “Avenues” and “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart,” are included plus several original songs making their premieres in the Whiskeytown catalog: “Kiss & Make-Up,” “Indian Gown,” “Barn’s On Fire,” “Streets Of Sirens,” “Breathe,” “Nurse With The Pills” and “10 Seconds.” Also included are covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” Gram Parsons’ “Luxury Liner,” Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone” and an early version of the True Believers’ “The Rain Won’t Help You When It’s Over.”
If this release comes anywhere close to the treatment reached by the Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road and The Allman Brothers Band Eat a Peach deluxe editions it should be a great addition for Ryan fans.