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Ryan Adam’s “Morning Glory” Reviewed

The cancellation of Ryan Adams has made him the ultimate cult star, while the rest of the world ignores him: he tours, he records, he covers other people’s albums complete, he sells out Carnegie Hall (but only releases a handful of songs from the concert), records his own material at Pax Am and sells em before handing them to streaming services.

Nobody reviews em for the most part: from Rolling Stone to NME he is entirely ignored.

But he continues, he covered “Wonderwall” on Love Is Hell in 2004, he covered the entire Taylor Swift album 1989 in 2005 and last year both Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Track and Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. This year, Ryan is on tour in Europe and covered Oasis’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory renamed and with the songs in a slightly different order.

If you remember Ryan and Oasis in the 90s, you will remember that Ryan was a fanatic. He followed them on the Definitely Maybe Tour, spoke em up, and on their final New York performance, opened for em at MSG. Now he continues playing and recording full albums with a band he was a huge fan of. Oasis then is not Ryan now, Oasis were a variant on shoegaze -a very loud, very guitars and very melodic pop dream. Ryan slows everything down to molasses and quietens it to a whisper, this is no longer a set of anthems about taking drugs and being rock stories and becomes a series of soft dissolves.

The one to keep is Blood On The Tracks, for some reason it was the perfect match of classic rock and Americana goes to England. But that wasnt true of Nebraska, which was already a quiet album and didn’t need Ryan’s go-ahead to slow it further. Sure Nebraska had its ups and downs as even the biggest albums might, but Morning Glory doesn’t. The title refers to early morning male erections and also taking a hit of toot first thing in the morning. It is tied to the mirror and the razor blade, it is a drug fueled stay awake as a rock and roll star; everybody is hailing you (even the States, even Ryan) and you respond by telling em how much you love it, you love being a 20 something on top of the universe.

At the height of the album comes their two biggest hits, “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova”: songs for getting up and at em, from Man City to City limits, from boyos driving their Mam insane to rulers of the free world. And Ryan’s cover album gets rid of the sense of overwhelming in it: they have stopped being anthems and are now milk sops. The precedent here is the 2004 “Wonderwall” and the 2023 style cover is more of the same. Ryan hears the melodies and hooks, he is addicted to them, and he re-arranges the song so it is only melodies and hooks plus a draining of energy and a less than robust affiliation with Liam (not Noel). It actually sounds a little like solo Noel.

But it isn’t really good. Sure, you can’t beat the price (here), but do you actually want to? It starts with “Hello”, a slow building to Liam screaming his lungs out and if Liam wants us there, Ryan wants to go, an echoey sad song with an unexpected change in key that blows it to pieces, “feel no shame” but to joy either. Oasis sophomore effort doesn’t stand up the way Definitely Maybe does (DM is an eternal teenager) but it is better than this: the two obvious one but much of the album is excellent: “Cast No Shadow”, “Roll With It”, even “Don’t Look Back In Anger” a UK pub singalong… Except for “Anger” Ryan blows up the melodies and it becomes a tedious mistake. “Anger” shows you what he could have done if he chose. But he doesn’t.

On tour in the UK, Ryan returns Oasis to the country and if only it was better. It’s as if the 30 years since it was released have derailed the joyful world of drugs, girls, and worldwide fame. The strings on “Don’t Look Back In Anger” is the only great moment on the Ryan take, you’d want him to stop playing everything in the same key and tone and everything is such a bummer you know why he won’t listen or at least doesn’t.

On tour on the UK, I am sure it is a bumpy ride though he has added “Some Might Say” -a great song, as good as most of the debut album (if not of the singles and B Sides that were flooding the market), with a click track behind him Ryan gets the melody but it is so slow and equivacating it isn’t that good and really, Ryan CANNOT sing like Liam (except, along with John Lennon, all have a strong yet nasal whine to their voices) and his album cover, in black and white, was not Oasis’s London’s Berwick Street. The original was about Noel trying to grow up and Liam having the time of his life: everything wide open to them both. Ryan has an echoey melancholy that Ryan doesn’t even attempt to lift. This is the Ryan we’ve been getting since at least 2017’s Prisoner. It’s as though he remasked Oasis as a comment on casting no shadow, on how the world can turn against you and leave you lost and brokenhearted. Pleasure, hedonism, is a strange urge: what pleasure is Ryan trying to share here? There is none, they are songs in which through the lack of instrumentation (or misjudged, what gives with a steel guitar on “Cast No Shadow”?). He continues to detail what was done to him. It gives him a pleasure rubbing our noses in our betrayal.

3 Comments

  1. Paul Alan Jarvis on April 14, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    I love Adams’ versions of these songs!

    • Mike Baldwin on April 21, 2023 at 11:48 am

      Some really good covers here and that’s from someone who’s from the North of England and gets the original songs!
      The sales of his UK shows show he’s still relevant and the cancellation by the media hasn’t worked.

  2. paul mailhot on August 11, 2023 at 7:11 pm

    Good album from a most relevant artist of thisourtimein space.

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