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backlash to the backlash

Sorry, Courtney: Ryan Adams’s ‘Rock N Roll’ Not One of History's Worst Albums

Photo: Getty Images


Over the weekend, in a rambling, typo-infused rant on her MySpace page, Courtney Love made an awfully odd accusation — that Ryan Adams bankrolled his 2003 album Rock N Roll with "858,00$" (she means $858,000, we think) of her daughter Frances Bean’s money. Allegedly, Love’s finances were in such a state at the time that Adams was able to inconspicuously charge “meals and drugs and Hotels and outboard gear and wasted fabullous guitars” to one of her 29 American Express cards, plundering her daughter’s trust fund. A trust fund, Love cringingly reminds us, that exists thanks to the music of “A MARTYRED HERO” (her caps). There’s much more, and we urge you to read the whole thing yourself.

But one thing in particular stuck in our craw, the fact that in the middle of this embarrassing-for-all-parties imbroglio hangs the reputation of an innocent bystander (no, not Frances Bean; she’s long since been publicly insulated from her mother’s nuttiness): Adams's brutally maligned Rock N Roll, an album Love calls “shite,” “self admitedly shit,” with “shit wirtten songs”? Far be it from us to cast aspersions on the soundness of her judgment, but is it really “one of the worst albums… in rock-n-roll history”?

Before we go any further, we should note that, of course, it’s entirely possible (and probably likely) that Adams didn’t actually steal money from Love — for all we know he scratched it together ghostwriting airport romance novels or something. But that’s not really the issue. The issue is this: We happen to really like Rock N Roll! Sure, it was totally derivative and overproduced to within an inch of its life — it was basically Ryan’s attempt to hang with early 00’s cool kids like Interpol and the Strokes — but it was also totally satisfying, with slick distortion, petulant sneering, and hilarious overenunciation of stock rock phrases (“You’re taking me high-yaaa”; “I’m on your siiiide”) that gives Liam Gallagher a run for his money. Not a landmark, especially when judged against Adams’s dozens of other excellent albums, but honestly, it's a lot of fun. And assuming Love hasn’t completely squandered all of her Nirvana royalties, we think Frances Bean will be okay without that 858,00$. —Amos Barshad

Courtney Love: Ryan Adams Stole $858k From Frances Bean [Stereogum]