Vinyl of the Week: 1989 by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams offers his take on Taylor Swift’s incredibly popular album, 1989.

The other day, I was at one of my favorite record stores, Vintage Vinyl, over in Fords, NJ. My buddy and I are both addicted to vinyl, and always take whatever opportunity we can to hunt for some cool gems. I had no idea I would walk in there and come out with a record like this one.

At first, I was between a Daft Punk vinyl or a remix vinyl of The Hills by The Weeknd. Then, my buddy strolls over and shows me 1989 from Ryan Adams. Not knowing what it was, and having never been a huge Ryan Adams fan, I asked him about it. Sean proceeds to tell me that it is Ryan Adams doing his own version of every song on the Taylor Swift 1989 album.

Now, being a Taylor Swift fan, this piqued my interest. I put down the other two albums and purchased the Ryan Adams one instead. I had the opportunity to listen to it earlier today, and it left me speechless. To take the entire album, rearrange and make it your own is a feat onto itself. Adams did an incredible job in that respect, and if you didn’t know that all of these songs are Swift’s, you would think this is just a great album from Adams. 

In a strange twist, this could be a Bruce Springsteen album from the early 80s. With that in mind, let’s get to some stand-out tracks.

Right when I put the needle down, I hear Welcome to New York, and like I said, I instantly feel that vintage Springsteen sound.

Blank Space came on next, and it is a thing of delicate beauty. Blank Space is a very sweet, melodic song from Adams. The Taylor Swift version feels like more of a revenge anthem, whereas Adams changes the theme and sound entirely, even though the lyrics remain the same.

Another one of the original album’s hits, Style, plays after Blank Space. Style is another anthem by Swift, and Adams keeps it that way, but again seems to channel an 80s pop/rock vibe with the arrangement. It’s a powerful tune, and because of this, Style is one of my favorites on both albums. 

Out of the Woods and All You Had to do Was Stay follow. I actually prefer the Adams versions of both songs. All You Had to do Was Stay reminds me of another artist of a similar name, Bryan Adams. Perhaps Ryan and Bryan Adams should do a duet version of All You Had to do Was Stay. I’d pay for that.

Shake It Off, probably the biggest hit from Swift’s album, receives a total revamp, as the Ryan Adams version takes me back to Springsteen’s signature sound, circa 1987, with his song, Brilliant Disguise. I love how Adams took a song that became so recognizable and made it his own. If this is the only version of the song, I believe it would still be a huge hit. 

When Bad Blood comes on, I feel like I’m listening to Liam Gallagher from Oasis play guitar. It really is amazing how Adams is able to make each song different from their originals, especially making Swift’s massive hits like Bad Blood sound new and fresh.  

I am glad my friend recommended this to me, as I listened to it twice already, and look forward to having a record night with my fiancé soon, because I know this is something she will love as well. 

I cannot recommend this vinyl enough, and even if you aren’t a fan of either artist, I still highly suggest giving it a try. For fans of either Adams or Swift, you will gain a new respect for both artists. This album is easy to find at any record store and online, so go out and give it a spin. You won’t regret it.

Don't miss out on another one of my favorite vinyls, B Sides and Rarities by Deftones. I also list my favorite tracks from Frank Ocean's new album.