CD Review of 11 by Bryan Adams
Recommended if you like
Joe Cocker, Journey, U2
Badman Limited
Bryan Adams: 11

Reviewed by Mike Farley


f you are over the age of 35, chances are you grew up as part of the early MTV generation, when they played lots of videos. And if that’s the case, you may shudder to think that Canadian rocker Bryan Adams released his debut album almost three decades ago. But there it is. In between, Adams has sold 65 million albums, and rocked like hell for about 10 years before drifting into what might be called his “Don Juan DeMarco” phase, riding the light rock mailbox money sellout train with hits like “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” and “Everything I Do (I Do It for You).” No doubt the guy lost a few fans on that ride.

But after a few mediocre albums, Adams seems to have rediscovered a bit of magic on his latest release, 11 – his, um, eleventh studio effort. And while we’re on the subject of numbers, here’s a guy who is almost 50, and still looks and sounds like he’s 30. Yes, there is a bit of sap on 11, but what Adams gives his fans on this self-released album is some really well-crafted songs.

You might think this is a covers album at first, just by glancing at the track titles -- “Broken Wings,” “She’s Got a Way,” and “Walk on By.” The thought of Adams covering Dionne Warwick, even with “American Idol’s” David Cook rocking up Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey songs, just isn’t right. But no, these are all Adams’ own takes on those lyrical themes.

Bryan Adams

The opener, “Tonight We Have the Stars,” is vintage Adams – mid-tempo, melodic and something you might hold up a lighter to at one of his shows. The same goes for “I Thought I’d Seen Everything,” which is straight-up rock along the lines of “This Time.” But here is where it gets interesting. “Oxygen” is one of Adams’ best tracks in years, the kind of song you just knew he finished writing and had to feel good about. “Broken Wings” is a bluesy, Aerosmith-like semi-ballad, and the kind of radio-friendly fare that could be cut by almost anyone. Finally there is “Mysterious Ways,” which may not win over new fans, but it will remind you of the days of one of Adams’ less-heralded releases, Into the Fire.

If Bryan Adams retired on a beach somewhere and shriveled up like a raisin, we certainly wouldn’t hold it against him. But this guy seems to just keep working, and he has suddenly remembered that he has hooks left in that creative mind of his. No, it’s not Bryan Adams at his best, but it is certainly dude’s best work in – gulp – 20 years, and a very pleasant surprise.

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