BRYAN ADAMS – Get Up!

BRYANADAMS_GUOnce upon a time, long, long ago there was a young bloke from Canada that we can call, for the sake of simplicity, Bryan. Now, young Bryan wanted to be a rock star more than anything in the world so he got himself a guitar, learnt how to play and sing and then started to write some songs. Some 35 years ago, young Bryan managed to get himself a recording contract and lo and behold, he released two albums in a rather fast pace – Bryan Adams (1980) and You Want It, You Got It (1981), but the albums just didn’t cut it which lead to them don’t selling that well. Young Bryan’s record company – A&M Records – called young Bryan into their office and told him: “Bad, bad Bryan. No hits. Make hits. Better records. Sell  more”. Young Bryan had to call his friend and song writing partner Jim Vallance up and tell him that the bosses were angry at them and that they had to make a hit record next time or else…! So, writing began and in the meantime they wrote a couple of songs for Kiss (“Rock And Roll Hell” and “War Machine”, released on their 1982 record Creatures Of The Night) and in 1983 they released Cuts Like A Knife, an album superior to its predecessors which also led to a platinum (1 000 000 sold albums) in the US and the bosses at A&M said “Good boy, Bryan. Now make an even better one, thanks!”. So, a little older, but still young Bryan and buddy Jim wrote even better songs which led to the Reckless album in 1984 which made young Bryan a superstar because every damn single off that record were a major hit and the rest is, as they say, history and we all lived happily ever after. Or did we? My first encounter with Bryan Adams was like for so many other people when I heard “Summer Of ’69” (Reckless) for the first time and got completely floored. I love that album to this day and it also made me go back and check out his back catalogue. And yes, Cuts Like A Knife is a brilliant record as well, but the two first albums are quite underwhelming. The follow-up to Reckless was called Into The Fire, released in 1987 and didn’t sell anywhere near the 5 million (today it has sold 12 million) albums its predecessor did, it didn’t have any big hits, but it still sold well enough and Adams was still a superstar. I think it’s a great album as well. But the numbers wasn’t satisfying so Adams teamed up with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, a guy who’s responsible for helping bands such as Foreigner, Def Leppard and AC/DC to become multi million selling artists. Lange co-wrote the whole record called Waking Up The Neighbours, released in 1991, an album that is Adams’ most successful album to date with its 16 million copies sold and for me, this is Adams’ magnum opus. But to be honest, the album is just as much about Mutt Lange as it is Adams – many of the songs sounds like Def Leppard with Adams singing. That would also be Bryan Adams last great album. The following record 18 Til I Die (1996) was disappointing, to say the least and even though the album was a Lange/Adams record as well, they did not manage to repeat neither the quality nor the sales of the last record. It sold 3 million world-wide, a good number, sure, but not even close its predecessor. That was also when I lost interest in Bryan Adams and since then, I haven’t listened to any of his records all the way through, much to the fact that the singles has been so dull that even Michael Bolton’s latest songs sounds like fat rockers in comparison.

Adams teamed up with hot-shot producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, The Cult, Little Caesar) for 1998’s On A Day Like Today, but that didn’t work. His duet with Spice Girl Melanie C was a work of desperation to keep in touch, it was a hit but it didn’t give Adams any credibility and the album didn’t match any of his predecessors sales wise. Since then his records Room Service (2004), 11 (2008) and his horrible covers record Tracks Of My Years (yes, I did hear that one) from last year hasn’t been doing him much good. Still, no matter the sales of Adams’ records, his tours has always been a success. Maybe he still knows how to rock a venue. See, Adams has always been a rocker albeit with a good dose of pop, but since 18 Til I Die, Adams has been more about cute pop songs and ballads, ballads and more ballads and that might hit home with the average radio listener, but the for his rock audience, the ones that he should be aiming for, has left him. So when the word got out that Adams was back writing with Jim Vallance again and that his new album would be back to his rocking roots again, I was intrigued  to see if that was the case. I mean, that would damn awesome, wouldn’t it? Opener “You Belong To Me” made me flabbergasted – and not in a good way. Was this rock? Well, sure, let’s call it that. It has the influence of an old 50’s rock ‘n’ roll / rockabilly tune of some sort, but the song is embarrassingly bad. Horrible. And rock? Nah, pop with a rock vibe at most. But “Go Down Rockin'” gives me hope. I wouldn’t call it great, but it’s really a good song, a harder edged late 1960’s rock song with a killer groove and a really catchy melody. Ok, maybe this can turn out well after all. But with “We Did It All” we’re back to go again. It’s another one of Adams’ later years ultra-boring ballads. This one is completely useless. I have more fun watching paint dry than listening to this song. Skip button! Next song is called “That’s Rock And Roll”. No, it’s not. it’s called mediocre, middle-of-the-road mainstream radio chart pop shit. If Adams believe that that’s rock ‘n’ roll, then no wonder why his music has sucked ass after 1991. “Don’t Even Try” is an acoustic guitar based pop song, cheesy and dull and goes nowhere. Bryan, listen to your own words, don’t even try, if this is the only thing that comes out. “Do What You Gotta Do” is a pop song, it has a pretty good and catchy melody, but it’s too soft and it don’t move me one iota. I had hopes for the next song, called “Thunderbolt”. I mean, with a title like that, it really has to rock, right? Wrong! It’s a pop song written for main stream radio, really boring. And what’s up with the stupid auto-tune? C’mon already! “Yesterday Was Just A Dream” is another ballad, nothing special, just forgettable. I wish the last half hour was just a dream – a bad one. Closing track “Brand New Day” sounds like Bon Jovi of today – acoustic based pop / rock for the mainstream chart radio, not crap, but totally underwhelming. But wait, there’s some bonus tracks as well – acoustic versions of “Don’t Even Try”, “We Did It All”, “You Belong To Me” and “Brand New Day” – yeeeahiiiy!! Dude, if the original versions are boring, then take a wild guess just how amazingly useless the acoustic versions are. But if you’re suffering from some kind of sleeping disorder, these songs just might help.

By now, you’ll know that this album got the chainsaw treatment. I can’t see any reason at all to buy this underwhelming piece of musical sea of diarrhea. Not only are the songs poorly written, the whole thing sounds like an unfinished demo, rushed and not thought through one bit. The only good song on this album wouldn’t even make it as a bonus track on Adams’ two first records, but it’s that song that makes sure that this album don’t get the lowest point I can give here. I really don’t know what Adams and Vallance thought about when they were writing and recording this album. I don’t know what made them go for Jeff Lynne (ELO, The Travelling Willburys) as the producer either. I won’t put any shadow over Lynne, the guy is a brilliant musician and song writer, but he’s completely wrong for Adams. If Bryan wanted to go back to his roots, well why didn’t he give Mutt Lange a call again. Or rather Bob Clearmountain who was responsible for his classic records. I said that I couldn’t see one reason to buy this, but the fact is, I can’t see any reason to even listen to this via Spotify or YouTube – or even illegally download it. Avoid!

2/10

Tracklist:

1. You Belong To Me
2. Go Down Rockin’
3. We Did It All
4. That’s Rock And Roll
5. Don’t Even Try
6. Do What Ya Gotta Do
7. Thunderbolt
8. Yesterday Was Just A Dream
9. Brand New Day
10. Don’t Even Try (Acoustic)
11. We Did It All (Acoustic)
12. You Belong To Me (Acoustic)
13. Brand New Day (Acoustic)

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