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Rural Free
Rural Free
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1

Though the Raleigh, North Carolina, band opposed the release of this collection of early demos by its original label, Rural Free Delivery is a worthwhile document in that it shows that leader Ryan Adams's songwriting talen...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Whiskeytown
Title: Rural Free
Members Wishing: 19
Total Copies: 0
Label: Mood Food Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2000
Re-Release Date: 5/6/1997
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Americana
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 606518000824

Though the Raleigh, North Carolina, band opposed the release of this collection of early demos by its original label, Rural Free Delivery is a worthwhile document in that it shows that leader Ryan Adams's songwriting talent was obvious even in the earliest stages of the band's existence. Just 20 years old at the time of these recordings, Adams was already turning out uncommonly compelling country ballads such as "Angels Are Messengers from God" (a later version of which showed up on a 7-inch EP) and "Pawn Shop Ain't No Place for a Wedding Ring," which showcases the haunting harmonies of Adams and fiddler Caitlin Cary. A brilliant honky-tonk reworking of Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown," meanwhile, revealed an equally significant side of the band's budding personality. --Peter Blackstock

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CD Reviews

What Was To Come And What May Have Been
Daufhin Thorndike | New York, NY United States | 07/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Discredited by Ryan Adams and released despite his objections, "Rural Free Delivery" is an irreplaceable document of early greatness from new Mtv heartthrob David Ryan Adams. This album, recorded only weeks after forming in the the spring/summer of 1995, was part of the first recordings of Whiskeytown, from which their first four- song 7 inch EP was released that same year on Mood Food Records. Despite the rudimentary budget and local hometown studio production, this album sounds great. It is raw, emotional, and often genius in its arrangements and minimalist approach. The live recording sound fits perfectly, and had any polish been applied to these songs, it would have undeniably killed everything beautiful and perfect within these eight songs.
The eight songs included here flow into one another seamlessly, with the possible exception of "Oklahoma", which is good- but seems a bit out of place alongside the other seven here. Taking that song alone out, "Angels Are Messengers From God" works well as an album closer and segues nicely from "Pawn Shop".
As I mentioned, there are many moments of brilliance here. One in particular is the hard- driving acoustic bravado of "Macon, Georgia County Line". This song is pretty obviously a one- take live recording. The brilliance is just how perfectly it works in that context, and how stale of a song it would be in any other. Ryan's handclaps and the giddy enthusiasm of his vocals make this a brilliant song here. The harmonies he shares with Caitlin Cary on the "chorus" are also especially compelling as he really stretches out the gorgeous tone of his voice.
Another great turn is the song "Captain Smith", a rocking, fiddle-charged country stomp about the sinking of the Titanic. Adams employs an offbeat vocal, sounding as though he has a nasty sinus cold, but it compliments the subject matter of the song and the rapid- fire delivery he employs in keeping up with the manic tempo of the tune. The thing that puts it over the top and transcends the entire piece is Caitlin's gorgeous fiddle solo where you would have expected an electric guitar lead. It is a moment that can give you goosebumps for sure- it still does to me.
After all these years and Whiskeytown having come and gone, there is a certain sadness attached to this, and even Whiskeytown's next two masterpieces as well. You cannot help but think of the potential here, and how it came and went so quickly. With Ryan having now sold himself to commercialization and cool, it is difficult to listen to this great record now without feeling a bit betrayed and resentful. I can only hope that Mr. Adams will get over himself someday and release the vaults other great material recorded around this same period such as the early live favorite "Bastards I used To Know", among others. According to Ryan's own estimation, there are upwards of 60 or so recorded songs unreleased and if he cares the least bit anymore about what the music of Whiskeytown means to people- he would do us all a great favor by just putting it out as is for all to enjoy.
I highly recommend this as a first introduction to the greatness that was Whiskeytown. For people just finding out about the band, it is best to start in order and begin here. It lays all its cards on the table and invites you take a seat. And I guaranty if you appreciate heartfelt music of integrity and emotional grit you will never want to get up from that table."
It's just so wonderful, i can't believe it myself.
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Now, I at first was a bit skeptical. A friend's mom had given me the record after hearing that I was going through an "alt-coutry phase" and decided i would be a good person to throw her copy at. According to her, it was just a little too country for her taste. That kind of scared me since i also felt that i had a low tolerance level for country (and yet, i am quite the avid uncle tupelo/wilco/son volt fan...) so i was skeptical. i listened through it one time, and laughed. Then i put it away and didn't listen to it again for about a month. When i did, i realized that it was just that absolute most wonderful thing ever. The songs are heartfelt, written well, and carried out with finesse that only a well rounded and truly talented group could have recorded these. Just absolutely wonderful. Too country? It's good stuff."
It's not worth the asking price!
T.R. Frentzel | San Francisco, ca United States | 06/04/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Okay, one star isn't fair-- it's about 2.5 or 3 stars really, but I really want to discourage anyone from buying it thinking that it's like some incredible "long lost treasure from Ryan Adam's past."

Let me preface this with the standard "I'm a HUGE Ryan Adams fan!"

I bought it back when it was about 10 bucks a pop, didn't like it then and ended up selling it back to the CD store. Then I saw that it was out of print and saw the prices climbing so I bought it again for about 24 bucks. Then I went home and listened to it again and remembered why I had sold it in the first place.

Some of the songs can be found on Faithless Street. The only song worth mentioning that you might not be able to get anywhere else is "Pawnshop Ain't No Place for a Wedding Ring" which is the only song that could fall under that "lost treasure" category. But $35 for one song? Jar Jar says: Meesa Nosa Thinka So!""