Bryan Adams

A & M Records, 1984

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For each and every musician who becomes a superstar, there is that one moment or one album where their future becomes crystal clear. For Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, that moment was his fourth album Reckless, released in 1984.

Sure, Adams had experienced some minor success with such songs as "This Time" and "Cuts Like A Knife". But his undeniable charm, his knack of writing pop-driven hits and his capitalization on the music video all equalled one thing: superstar. Even today, 14 years after this album was released, it still is a lot of fun to listen to.

While many of these songs were overplayed in their heyday (MTV had a particular affinity towards "Heaven," which was my least favorite of the singles), once you've had a chance to step back and listen to them in the context of this album, everything seems to fall right into place. From the opening power chords of "One Night Love Affair," Adams proves that he's firing on all cylinders musically, and with only one or two exceptions, the entire trip is a smooth one.

Two songs from Reckless may now be noteworthy because of their appearance on the 1988 disc my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Live! Live! Live! (which we reviewed here some time ago), "She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'" and "Kids Wanna Rock". Of the two, the latter track stands out for its energy level, while "She's Only Happy..." just doesn't seem to hold the power as well. Still, it's not a bad track, just not one that I would have selected as one to remember years down the line.

Then, there are the singles. "Heaven," in retrospect, isn't that bad of a ballad, but when I was force-fed the song every fifteen friggin' minutes, it got real old, real quick. (One version of the video, the one where Adams was playing to an audience of TV sets, seemed a little too artsy-fartsy for me as a 14-year-old.) The first singles, "Run To You" and "Somebody," are still a lot of fun to listen to, as is the mega-hit "Summer Of '69". (To this day, I honestly can't believe that the censors at MTV and radio stations let a line like "Me and my baby in '69" by. Think about it for a minute.) However, one song that has been lost in the mix over time was "It's Only Love," a duet with Tina Turner (whose fates had turned for the better around the same time). This proves to be an excellent track, and the pairing of Adams and Turner sounds quite natural.

So, that leaves us with two tracks on Reckless: "Long Gone" and "Ain't Gonna Cry". While these aren't terrible efforts, there is a good reason why these songs never really caught people's attention or piqued radio's interest. Surprisingly, these are the only tracks that seem to show some level of their age.

Oh, sure, you could settle for picking up the best-of So Far, So Good, and leave off the "unmentionables". However, if you do that, I think you lose a lot of the impact that these songs really have. Listening to them with all the other songs that radio beat to death kind of takes away some of their impetus; it's almost like watering them down. Reckless, as an album, is a real experience, and it's one that is worth going through, even if that does mean sitting through a few songs that don't light your fire. (It's not that long of an album, for Crissakes.) I don't often pull Reckless out of the Pierce Memorial Archives, but when I do dust off my cassette, I have yet to not enjoy listening to it.

The drawback to this album, of course, was the question of how Adams would follow up his smash success. It could be argued that he's never quite approached that level of success (although the power of "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" could blunt that argument), but it can't be argued that Reckless was the album that made Adams a household name. I also think it's his best effort to date.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.