Greetings, Glancers! Nightman reporting to you once again, and once again I’m going to share my thoughts on a Bryan Adams album. 18 Till I Die was the first studio album in five years by the Canadian after monumental successes in the late 80s and early 90s. There are plenty of songs here I have not heard before, and of course a bunch that I am familiar with – those which were released as singles. There are a few big hitters here and the album itself was still a success, if not as big as his previous smashes. Critics were less impressed feeling that the album was both disjointed and a poor attempt at retaining a youthful style and audience. What do we say we find out for ourselves?
The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You: This is an old fashioned rock stomper with a little bit o’blues and a little bit o’country. I was dreading hearing this again as I was worried I would find it too silly – it is silly no doubt, it is cheesy, but it has an infectious swagger that you don’t really hear anymore. It’s a catchy start to the album, harmless, and fun enough (with a decent bridge) to stay in the good books.
Do To You: This sounds like it’s repeating a lot of the tone of the first one, a good old fashioned rock song with some blues and country thrown in. There is harmonica, simple melodies, a foot-tapping beat, and a chorus which is light on the melody but easy to sing with. I do like that odd distorted guitar tumbling part that pops up every so often. It’s another short one, so the silly repetitive nature does not last long enough to cross the border between inoffensive and unlistenable. I like the little shift around the three and a half minute mark – unnecessary but nice nevertheless.
Lets Make A Night To Remember: I don’t remember much about this one, but I assume I have heard it before as it was a single. It’s a ballad, at least from the intro and verse. Oh, wait. I recognise the pre-chorus. And the chorus. So yes, I have heard this before but I must have allowed the verses to pass from my mind. Ironic. I don’t have anything bad to say about it yet, it’s a decent enough ballad with sweet lyrics and fine melodies. I’d say those swooning guitars alongside the vocals in the pre-chorus are the best bit. At over six minutes long it’s needlessly overlong as it gets the job done in four.
18 Till I Die: Everyone should know this one, as it’s one of the singer’s trademark songs, calling back to the youthful anthem stylings of Summer Of 69. It’s not as good as that one, but this is still Adams at the top of his game, it’s certainly an anthem, it certainly has a big chorus which will get the fist-pumpers into a frenzy and is sure to get those folks who wish they were still 18 moving and jumping like they’ve gone back in time.
Star: Starts in experimental fashion, the first song I think I’ve covered that doesn’t sound like a Bryan Adams song. Once the piano and vocals come in it finds its feet. Some of the melodies recall Everything I Do but it’s good enough to stand on its own. I haven’t heard this one before, seems like a fine, gentle ballad with a hymnal quality. I may get tired of this one after repeated listens, but it’s nice to hear this one for the first time.
I Wanna Be Your Underwear: The title feels like you can imagine what the song will sound like before you’ve even heard it. It does meet my expectations in most cases, aside from some extras in the introduction. Overall it feels like a Def Leppard song transposed into the 90s (I haven’t actually heard any 90s Def Leppard songs aside from When Love And Hate Collide – which I like). Slow paced, sleazy lyrics and guitars, though there is a very Bryan Adams break in the middle which doesn’t last very long.
We’re Gonna Win: I think I’ve heard this, must have been on a Greatest Hits. It’s pretty good, I like the pace and the building nature. As you many know I have a thing for songs which repeat the same ideas or melodies while building by getting faster, louder, or adding extra instruments into the fix. This one kind of fits that criteria, it’s pretty simple but has some nice melodic moments and a good chorus to pay off the build up.
I Think About You: This one starts like a country ballad and continues in a soft MOR acoustic vein. I don’t want to call it bland because it is nice enough, but I don’t get a strong sense of emotion from it. The chorus needs a bigger, better hook.
I’ll Always Be Right There: Has a soft and soothing opening too, guitars and strings before the vocals come in. It has a similar vibe to the previous song but this one feels much more honest and of better quality. This feels like a good wedding song. As you’ve probably seen I love ballads when done right, and anytime we have a swell of violins I can’t help but be enchanted. This isn’t the best song of this type that Adams has written, but it’s a very good effort.
It Ain’t A Party If You Can’t Come Round: It isn’t easy writing this with a laptop and a cat fighting for space on my lap. This is a strange one, harking back to plenty of Adams’s past work. It has a straight-laced rock approach but enough good melodies to keep it from being stale. I like the extended pre-chorus, the chorus itself is fine if a little too similar to songs he’s already written, and the verses are standard.
Black Pearl: So, it’s not about Pirates then. Another blues foot-tapper, hopefully avoiding any racist undertones, more sleazy rhythms, and nothing we haven’t heard before in verse or chorus. At least it stays under four minutes.
You’re Still Beautiful To Me: Another ballad now, this time one with a bit of pace to it. It’s another one I don’t remember hearing, but so far it’s okay. The chorus is fine, Adams sounds increasingly like Rod Stewart, but this one again overall feels a little too bland. The song also has no business being as long as it is.
Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman: It’s another one which anyone who was old enough to listen to music at the time this was released should know. I think this was a pretty big hit around the world, and although I don’t remember Don Juan De Marco making much of a commercial impact, the song did get Adams his second Oscar nomination. I do like this one, the husky vocals suit the burning romance nature of the film (if not the more dark suicidal and mental illness issues), and both verse and chorus melodies are top notch.
I think for the most part I enjoy this album. There are no stinkers, but there is a smaller number of obvious hits than what we’re used to. A couple of songs that I wasn’t previously aware of hit the mark, while the rest are middling efforts which just miss out on being good or offer nothing new to Adams fans. Although Adams is still writing and recording now, I think there is only one more studio album that I will be remotely familiar with, and that’s On A Day Like Today, coming up next. I should mention though that one of my favourite songs appears on his MTV Unplugged live album before One A Day Like Today – and that song is of course Back To You. I’m not sure why I like that one so much, it simply seems to click with me.
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