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Bryan Adams - Ultimate (Album Review)

Tuesday, 14 November 2017 Written by Simon Ramsay

If every picture paints a visual story, every ‘best of’ album tells a musical one. For example, there’s the feeling any Bryan Adams collection called ‘Ultimate’ shouldn’t include tracks recorded after the early ‘90s. Although the truth isn’t quite that straightforward, it’s hard to disagree when listening to the Canadian rocker’s latest career-spanning compilation.

Between 1983’s ‘Cuts Like A Knife’ and ‘91’s ‘Waking Up The Neighbours’ Adams was on top of his game. Bridging the ballsy blue collar rock of Springsteen and Mellencamp with Journey and Bon Jovi’s glossy stadium anthemics, he was a bona-fide hit maker.  

In collaboration with songwriter Jim Vallance, producers Bob Clearmountain and Mutt Lange, as well as an excellent band that included long time guitarist Keith Scott, Adams’ pop-rock mastery made him a superstar.  

He survived the ‘90s better than many ‘80s rockers because he didn’t attempt to go grunge. Instead he stuck to his guns before transitioning into a laid back pop artist and purveyor of increasingly sappy ballads that capitalised on the success of (Everything I do) I Do It For You.  

Since the end of the last century, though, his output has been largely disappointing, something that’s evident throughout these contrasting 21 tracks. Opener Go Down Rockin’ is a frisky ‘50s-esque roller taken from his last album ‘Get Up’, an underwhelming collaboration with Jeff Lynne that Adams nevertheless saw as a natural successor to ‘Reckless’.  

Along with the equally peppy You Belong To Me, the song shows that record wasn’t a complete turkey. The problem is they’re rendered bang average by the calibre of material that surrounds them. No sooner has that first track faded than Can’t Stop This Thing We Started and Run To You arrive to showcase the gulf in class.

This is Adams at his best: passion dripping from every power chord allied to fist-flinging, world class hooks that captivated arenas and dominated radio airwaves. That class is later typified by Summer of ‘69, one of the finest slices of rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia and teenage lust ever written.

Adams continued his trademark style on ‘96’s hit and miss ‘18 Til I Die’. Although an increasingly formulaic offering, The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You is a strong effort. But the insipid ballad Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman? began a descent into beige mediocrity that’s at its worst on the synthetic pop strains of Cloud Number Nine, from 'On a Day Like Today'. Compared to Heaven and that Robin Hood smash, those love songs are anaemic. 

So what of the omissions? There’s no Straight From The Heart, This Time, Kids Wanna Rock, and Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven.  Criminally, not a single song from ‘87’s ‘Into The Fire’ appears either. Tracks like Here I Am showed he could still pen the odd classic in the early ‘00s but – along with two decent new tracks that also fail to match his best work – it shouldn’t have been included at the expense of those numbers.

This is the fourth ‘best of’ from Adams and one of those cynical releases that always precedes a forthcoming tour. Simply downloading those new tracks will be best for die-hard fans, while newcomers should just buy all his ‘80s records. Either that or go and see him in concert to witness a performer who still puts on one of the best, dare we say ultimate, rock ‘n’ roll shows around.

Bryan Adams Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon May 21 2018 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Tue May 22 2018 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Thu May 24 2018 - MANCHESTER Arena
Fri May 25 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Genting Arena
Sat May 26 2018 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Sun May 27 2018 - LEEDS first direct Arena
Tue May 29 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Metro Radio Arena
Wed May 30 2018 - LONDON SSE Arena, Wembley
Thu May 31 2018 - LONDON O2

Click here to compare & buy Bryan Adams Tickets at Stereoboard.com.





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