Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I suppose it says a lot that even Bryan Adams is asked to make a covers record.  We know he was asked, because he tells us in the liner notes; veteran producer and Vancouver pal David Foster (they worked on Tears Are Not Enough back in '85) is now head of Verve Records, and requested Adams do this set.  Foster even set the rules, requesting Top 10 U.S. hits from the rock era.  In other words, Foster had a concept that he felt could sell some records, not an easy thing for these veteran rockers these days.  You can figure out the thinking on this:  "Rod Stewart has the Great American Songbook covered, Bryan can do the '70's, and we can have different volumes of it if it takes off."

Ironically, the best tune here is a new one, which Adams must have had to negotiate as part of the deal.  She Knows Me is a co-write with his long-standing partner Jim Vallance, a classic Adams mid-tempo number, solid if not spectacular, and would make a fine single if there was still such a system.  So it's not like Adams has to go the covers route, and I'd be interested in a full album with Vallance again.  But he'd probably have to self-finance that, and this was the deal on offer.  It's a strange mix of tunes, and it doesn't even follow the rules.  The opening cut is a cover of The Beatles' Any Time At All, a great song but never a single, let alone Top 10.  Oh well, he does a good job on it.  The mixed bag of cuts continues with everything from Ray Charles' I Can't Stop Loving You to CCR's Down On The Corner to The Beach Boys' God Only Knows.

It all comes down to which songs suit Adams' raspy voice best, and oddly, he doesn't seem to have a good handle on that.  He does well with rock numbers such as Rock And Roll Music, and the old Eddie Cochrane number C'mon Everybody.  Medium-paced ones work too, such as Dylan's Lay Lady Lay and Sunny by Bobby Hebb.  But he has to strain on the slow ones, and it's a little painful to sit through the Ray Charles and Beach Boys numbers, plus Kris Kristofferson's Help Me Make It Through The Night.  Only once does he truly take a sad song and make it better, his cover of The Associations' Never My Love.  It was always a wimpy number from that group, but Adams gives it some well-deserved guts, as it is a good song at heart.

Bryan Adams has always been a pretty good singer, with an easily-identifiable voice.  He'll need a stronger song selection than this to inspire enough buyers to make this a worthwhile project.

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