Despite the fact that Ryan Adams seems to release an album every 4 or 5 months, there is still an inordinate amount of material that has never seen an official release. I recently came across an early Whiskeytown recording session called The Freightwhaler Sessions online. Here is what it says about the recordings over at Answering Bell (the headquarters for all unreleased Whiskeytown/Ryan Adams material):
The Freight Whaler stuff was recorded with Wesley Show. We didn't do much to the Freight Whaler stuff. We purposely didn't want to record something that a record company would want to release. That was Wes' logic not ours. We were stoned and drunk, enjoying the songs, in fact on "The Ghost are Out tonight" I believe? Ryan had to pitch a fit to get Wes to record a second vocal track. Wes was cutting ESD a deal on the demos, under the condition that if we signed a deal (as Freight Whaler) he would get to record the album. Shame that didn't happen . . . . Of course Ryan didn't want to sign with ESD. And ESD wasn't interested in Freight Whaler, they wanted Whiskeytown. But we turned it down and went on with life . . . . Also, an interesting fact. During the recording of FreightWhaler demos. Skillet had a broken collarbone. He had taken the trucks off of a skateboard to skate on the snow. He wrecked on the campus of NC State. At the end of "The Ghost are out Tonight", you can hear the band fall apart. Skillet couldn't play anymore. That's why we recorded "I'll Try" aka. "That's hard to do". And Picture of Jesus. They were not in the plans until Skillet couldn't play rock anymore.
In no way are The Freightwhaler Sessions essential listening for the casual fan, but to Adams enthusiasts the recordings provide another early glimpse into the blossoming talent that was early Whiskeytown. The songs are simple and direct, similar in sound to Faithless Street, yet far from Stranger’s Almanac’s diverse array of styles and influences. Ryan’s voice is still a long way from the powerful instrument it would soon become (no less than Steve Earle declared Adams the best male vocalist the alternative country music scene produced). However, the songs do possess that ragged charm that makes so much of this period of their career worth hearing, and “Bar Lights”, which would become a highlight on Pneumonia, appears in an early incarnation.
MP3 :: At The Drive In
MP3 :: Bar Lights
MP3 :: The Ghosts Are Out Tonight
MP3 :: Sometimes That's Hard To Do
MP3 :: Picture Of Jesus On The Dashboard
(from the unreleased The Freightwhaler Sessions)