My first introduction to Bryan Adams came in 1984 with the Reckless album. I was in fourth grade at the time, and I distinctly remember seeing videos for two of the singles from the album and just loving them: “Summer of ‘69” and “Heaven.” While I may not have entirely understood the nostalgic sentiment of “Summer of ‘69” at the time, it was still a fun and upbeat song that I enjoyed listening to; and there was just something about “Heaven” that grabbed me on first listen and never let go.
Later on, I would hear more songs from Reckless that I ended up liking: “One Night Love Affair,” “Run to You,” “Somebody,” “Kids Wanna Rock,” and “It’s Only Love,” a duet with Tina Turner. On the Reckless album, Bryan was able to combine rock and pop in such a way that the music was palatable to both audiences. Of all of Bryan’s material that I’ve heard over the years, I have to say the songs from Reckless are by far his strongest. In 1986, Bryan made a cameo appearance on Glass Tiger’s “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone),” by providing backup vocals near the end of the song.
In 1987, Bryan released the album Into the Fire. There were two singles that became hits off the album: “Heat of the Night” and “Hearts on Fire.” I remember hearing “Heat of the Night” at the time, and thinking it was kind of a boring song. It’s not necessarily bad, but since it followed up the material from Reckless, it just felt like something was lacking. Honestly, I really have no recollection of hearing “Hearts on Fire” at the time it was out.
Bryan Adams basically disappeared from the music landscape for almost four years. He made a big comeback in the summer of 1991 with “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You,” the theme from the film Robin Hood and the Prince of Thieves. At that point, I had just finished the tenth grade, and this song re-ignited my interest in Bryan Adams. That fall, Bryan released the album Waking Up the Neighbours. Over the course of the promotion for the album, I heard the following songs on the radio: “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started,” “Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven,” “Do I Have to Say The Words?,” “There Will Never Be Another Tonight,” “All I Want is You,” and “Touch the Hand.” “Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven” is a personal favorite of mine; I really like the ethereal sound he went for with the song, and the music video really captured the song’s feel. The other songs are also good in their own way, too. While this album may not be quite as strong as Reckless, it comes in at a very close second.
In late 1993, Bryan Adams released his greatest hits album, So Far So Good, which included the new song “Please Forgive Me,” which was promoted as a single. At the same time, “All For Love,” a collaboration Bryan did with Rod Stewart and Sting for The Three Musketeers, was released. Both were more Adult Contemporary-leaning songs. They’re not bad songs, but they aren’t quite as strong as some of Bryan’s other material. This was followed up in 1995 “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?,” a song from the film Don Juan DeMarco. This song was even more watered-down than the previous two singles. It’s not a bad song, but I personally found it to be a bit boring. I can safely say that it was around this point that I started losing interest in Bryan Adams again.
In 1996, Bryan released the album 18 Til I Die, and it had two singles chart from it: “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me” and “Let’s Make a Night to Remember.” Personally, I thought the first song sounded like Bryan was trying too hard to sound contemporary, as well as trying to find his rock side again. Also, I thought “Let’s Make a Night to Remember” was rather boring.
After this point, I started to lose track of Bryan Adams. The main things I remember from him after this point are three singles from his 1998 album, On a Day Like Today (“On a Day Like Today,” “Cloud Number Nine,” and “When You’re Gone”), his collaboration with the dance artist Chicane (“Don’t Give Up”), and the song “Here I Am,” from the film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. In this time period, my favorite song would have to be the collaboration with Chicane; it was nice to hear Bryan doing something that wasn’t simply Adult Contemporary-leaning and laid back.
For me, Bryan Adams has been rather hit and miss over the years. There are a couple of eras in his catalog that I really enjoy and find myself listening to the songs from those eras every now and then. Bryan has really mellowed out over the years; while this in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just seems to me that the quality of the music went down at the same time he was mellowing out.