Greetings, Glancers! It’s time to return to Canada’s finest and have a walk through his most famous album, Waking Up The Neighbours. The purpose of these posts if you recall, was for me to revisit those artists from my youth and the albums I missed by them. I’m cheating a little with today’s post because I did own this album upon release and listened to it quite a bit around that time, but before long I started only listening to the songs I liked from it, and not long after gave up on it completely. In other words, it’s a hell of a long time since I’ve listened to it all, so that’s what I’m about to do.
While Reckless was the breakthrough hit, this is the album with all the classics and the one which truly cemented Adams as a force to be reckoned with. A certain song which featured in a certain films did very well around the world, but a flurry of other singles also sold by the reservoir full. I remember this being a fairly hefty album, so there may well be a lot of crap in here that I’ve forgotten about. Likewise, there could be one or two which I ignored then and may enjoy now. What are we waiting for. Plug in your earphones, and follow me down.
Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya?: Drums. Guitars. A little bit 80s. Standard white boy MOR rock. It’s the same sort of stuff from his early records but with much better production and a little more gloss and thought. It’s tame stuff with an okay chorus. It gets a little cheesy in places (hand claps), and could have been a minute shorter and had the same impact.
Hey Honey, I’m Packin’ You In: More of the same, really. Harmless old school rock, this time with a country vibe. Some odd lyrics which are pretty funny, there isn’t really much to speak about on this one. The chorus is fine again, nothing memorable.
Can’t Stop This Thing We Started: I remember the video of this one being embarrassingly cheesy, and the drums don’t make things much better. I always enjoyed this song though, it’s good fun and catchy as hell. If they replaced those drums with something a bit more sturdy we’d be flying. Great chorus and I’m still partial to that brief middle portion.
Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven: I always felt this one didn’t get as much recognition as it deserved. It’s a wonderful, atmospheric ballad. This one was a constant feature on the cassettes I used to record for car journeys. I can’t really fault this one, epic melodies throughout, although there is quite a difference between how sombre sounding the verses sound when compared with the jubilation of the chorus. What it’s doing in the 90s I’ve no idea as it’s clearly an 80s song.
Not Guilty: Speaking of those car journey cassettes, this song made many an appearance too, though it’s well over a decade since I’ve heard it. Hmm, I actually don’t remember this intro at all. This was one of the first songs I ever asked to be taught to play on guitar. There’s not much guitaring on display here though, aside from the riff. An odd choice given that I was already listening to G’n’R at this point. Maybe I loved the solo.The chorus doesn’t have the same impact now as it did then. I remember shouting along to this chorus, but there isn’t anything too amazing about it – catchy, not amazing.
Vanishing: I’ve been wanting to listen to this one as I can’t really remember it, but have some memory of really liking it. Now as I listen for the first time in maybe twenty years I can’t say I remember anything that I’m hearing. It has the feeling of another epic, the way it builds and the way the different instruments come into play. I think it’s a fairly plain rock song given the epic treatment to make it more interesting – no major melodies and when it feels like it’s going to build to a big chorus it all falls away with no end result. This feels longer than the five minutes it actually is, a little disappointing.
House Arrest: Another plain, simple rock song. Nice vocals of course, basic guitars, but nothing else to get excited over. It’s pretty heavy as far as Adams songs go. I can’t say I really remember a lot about this one, though I do recall shouting the chorus in my parents’ living room.
Do I Have To Say The Words: Ahh, now this one was probably my favourite from the album for the longest time. As you’ll know by now I’m a sucker for a well written ballad and this is about as good as they get. Again, it’s an 80s song that somehow sneaked into the 90s. I did a cover of this which was slower and emphasized the more atmospheric parts and cancelled out the lighter moments. Sure it’s a little cheesy now, but it’s still a superb, unusual song. Is it about love though? That chorus riff is the shit.
There Will Never Be Another Tonight: Now, this is how you do a whiteboy rock song, Bryan. This is a superb song with a lightning tempo, and it’s one of the only songs I’ve ever heard that actually makes me want to dance or, you know, leave the house and DO SOMETHING. It’s just so infectious and energetic, and the melodies are of course brilliant. It also has an excellent middle section to go along with the kick-ass verses and chorus. Great stuff.
All I Want Is You: Another 80s track that bopped over into the next decade when no-one was looking, this one has a lot in common with the rocker’s later 90’s input – the slow stomping verses and whispered vocals, followed by big chorus. I’d forgotten this one even existed so it’s funny hearing it again now. It has a lot in common with Def Leppard and Bon Jovi tracks of the time, with big stadium drums and a slower approach. This one could have had a minute shaved off it with no problems.
Depend On Me:I was just about to type that i didn’t remember this from the intro, but as soon as the verse vocals began I remembered. Not sure why I didn’t play this one as much when I was younger as it seems like one I should have liked. It is pretty cheese-driven, especially those lyrics, but we can forgive him for that. It’s a decent enough soft track with better verses than chorus, the chorus just missing some oomph. It does get a little heavier in the middle, but this isn’t carried over to where it’s needed.
(Everything I Do) I Do For It You: I don’t think we really need to discuss this one, do we? It’s had a lot of flack over the years, but it’s still a wonderful song and I loved seeing it on TOTP every week still sitting at Number 1. I still think it deserves to be regarded with the greats. It may not have done anything new, but it’s a perfect combination of music, melody, lyrics, and emotion. One piece that rarely gets mentioned as it was left out of the single version is the extended outro – tis lovely, I tell ye.
If You Wanna Leave (Can I Come Too): Another unnecessary and simple rocker. Plain verses, slightly more than plain chorus. You’ll groove along with it, but only if you’re a grandmother.
Touch The Hand: More wuss rock. I do remember liking this one a little bit around the time of release, but it never appeared on any of my car journey cassettes. Nothing much to say about this – simple two note riff, no melodies, unexciting chorus.
Don’t Drop That Bomb On Me: I do remember this one and that I wished I like it more so nice to hear it again now. The start is great but then the Mutt Lange influence comes through and all I hear is that awful Def Leppard sound with all the ‘heys’! It’s annoying because there is a good song in here if they’d only cut out those shitty 80s drums, write a better verse melody, bin the ‘heys’ etc. The chorus is excellent, the intro is great, clean up everything else and you’ve got a real song. Great vocal performance though, apart from the ‘heys’.
So, there you go. It is quite a large album, and there are some skippers in there. Mostly those are the too-tame rock songs which sound like they could have been written in the early 1950s and performed with more panache then. There’s a much better album in here if we kept the stronger rock tracks and the epics and hits. It has been nice to revisit this one, but there wasn’t really anything that immediately leapt out at me which I’d lost over the years – it looks like I’ve remembered the best tracks and discarded the rest, as it should be.
Let us know in the comments what you thought of this album – is it too much cheese for one (two) ear to handle, or do you rank any of the songs highly?