“Smothering the cover of a ’69 summer
Played through a speaker of fuzz
Nobody knew Bryan Adams wasn’t cool
The TV just told me he was”
Butch Walker and The Radicals, “Summer Of 89”
If you like some kick-ass rockin’ music
We’re a kick-ass rockin’ band
If you can’t play a lick, just play anything
Raise hell and clap your hands
Spread the word, bring your friends
The whole wide world is joining in
If you love some kick-ass rockin’ music
We’re a kick-ass rockin’ band
Bryan Adams, “Kick Ass” 2022.
When Butch Walker released “Summer Of ’89” back in 2011, he hit the nail on the head.
Bryan Adams – see also Nickelback, who this website will defend to the end – is a name that has the “cool kids” sniggering down their sleeves. When his crime is this: he makes a shit load of songs people like, and doesn’t give a monkeys about anything else.
Take the 12 here. In less than 40 minutes, he doesn’t try and change the world, he doesn’t try and preach to you (and yes there’s a place for that sometimes) he just celebrates what he loves and tries to make you feel good about life too.
On the opening title track (if I call this a mid paced radio rocker, can we just save time and assume they all are unless I tell you otherwise) he’s got a “Stupid grin on my face” and he rips a guitar solo out from nowhere, on what is a vaguely “blue collar” Springsteen circa “The Rising” tune.
That’s the vibe here. It’s got no time for bad stuff. “Never Gonna Rain” has him “laughing like he never had a care” and there’s a big ballad called “You Lift Me Up” that is surely designed for slow dances everywhere.
That one sounds a bit like one of those country ballads that all the Nashville megastars have and that’s the feel too on “I’ve Been Looking For You” and in common with all of the songs here, its one that once its wormed its way into your conscience the sodding thing ain’t going anywhere (you can decide whether that’s a good or bad thing in your own time).
Like every one else of my age, I bought “Reckless” in 1984, (you can bullshit if you like but it sold 12 million copies) and “Always Have, Always Will” comes straight from that era. Lets be honest, it sounds like “Heaven”, “On The Road” on the other hand, just sounds like a modern pop song and it suits him.
“Kick Ass” is much better than its godawful title. It even sounds like AC/DC and if this doesn’t start the live shows then he’s doing it wrong. Basically the premise is that man has made bad music long enough and Bryan Adams is here to save us. Marvellous. The song rules.
There are some absolute belters here too. “I Ain’t Worth Shit Without You” could be a Thunder song, and if the truly terrible “Lets Do This” is very much the type of thing that people think is all he does, then Adams knows his market, lets just say that and the words here…..good lord. It “rhymes ‘sexiest’ with ‘ simply the best’ at one point. We’ll move on, shall we?
“Just Like Me, Just Like You” is back to the country tinges, and “Just About Gone” is pure timeless goodness, and even the last one “These Are The Moments That Make My Life”, back to the ballads is good. Why? Because it avoids the cliches for one, and for another, it is so calm, so serene, that frankly, it is just lovely. And there’s a place for that.
One of the words I hate most in the lexicon of modernity is “Tastemaker” (see also “Influencer”). I don’t need some smug prick sneering at me for anything I like. I am guessing Bryan Adams is the same, otherwise “So Happy It Hurts” doesn’t get made. This is what happens when people make music people like. Simple as that. Easy listening? Well, you know what I mean. It’s never changing lives, but its fun.