I confess to having been rather behind the curve on Bryan Adams. In fact I don’t think I’d even heard of him – or anything by him – until his big, gloopily sentimemtal hit ‘Everything I Do’ got a huge amount of radio play and spent 16 consecutive weeks at Number One in the UK singles chart in 1991. It was featured on the soundtrack of the film ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’.
On that basis alone I wasn’t impressed. Over time, however – and no doubt based on this success – some of his other, and more palatable to my taste, music started getting played too. This was much better. It was rock and roll with a dash of nostalgia (‘Summer of ’69’, ’18 ‘Til I Die’) which chimed pretty well with my demographic. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Madame was quite a fan.
I don’t think, though, that he would have got past an ‘OK’ rating on my personal music appreciation scale if I hadn’t splashed out on his ‘Live at Budokan’ album. As I recall, I bought this in Abu Dhabi after we got tickets for a concert he was scheduled to do there in late 2004. Unfortunately, the Sheikh died and all entertainment was cancelled for the lengthy mourning period. (We did finally get to see him when he came back to Dubai a few years later. He was very good.)
Still, I enjoyed the live album sufficiently to invest in a Greatest Hits compilation, which gave me a greater appreciation of Adams’ gift of combining powerful rock riffs with lyrics that actually mean something (‘You’re Still Beautiful To Me’, ‘Please Forgive Me’), delivered with a powerful voice that reminds me rather of Bruce Springsteen.
He also offers a very nice line in mild lasciviousness, nowhere better in evidence than in his ‘Blues Jam’, which mashes up two of his songs, ‘If You Wanna Be Bad You Gotta Be Good’ and ‘Let’s Make A Night To Remember’. Ahahaha.
Honourable Mention: Abba
The British – and, let’s be fair, Americans too – have always been rather parochial about their pop music. A lot of this naturally has to do with language, but with the best will in the world it’s tough not to dislike the great majority of European pop music on the purely dispassionate basis that it’s rubbish. And I speak with some authority, as one who often listens, when in the car, to the French oldies radio station, Nostalgie FM, which is required by law to use 50% locally produced content. (Half of) it really is dire – and would be in any language.
But there’s always the exception that proves the rule: Abba. Of course, it’s ‘only’ pop – but what great pop it is: catchy, beautifully produced and designed to make you happy, even when it’s sad.
I think I read once that in a statistically significant proportion of all cars, cerrtainly in the UK, there is somewhere – under the back seat or at the bottom of the glove compartment – a (no doubt scratched) copy of their greatest hits compilation ‘Abba Gold’. Ours is on the shelf at home, though.
In the words of this song: ‘With a bit of rock music, Everything is fine, You’re in the mood for a dance’.
What’s not to like?