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Sunday, July 01, 2012

A "Reckless" Canada Day Celebration

Welcome to July, everybody, and if you happen to be living in Canada as I am, I want to wish all Canadians a happy Canada Day!

Yes, Canada turns the big 145 today, and I plan to celebrate by donning the red and white today.  Just like yesterday, today’s blog post will be written entirely in red.

And today, I’m going to do another album spotlight.

I’ve done two album spotlights before in this blog.  One was on the Huey Lewis & The News album “Sports”, and the other one was on the 1987 holiday compilation “A Very Special Christmas”. 

And today, I’ll be featuring an artist from Canada, in the spirit of Canada Day.

But, first, let’s meet this artist in question.

Without a doubt, Bryan Adams has not only made his mark on the Canadian music scene, but internationally as well.  Here are a few statistics on Bryan Adams by the numbers.

10 studio albums released
5 compilation albums
4 live albums
67 singles released
11 Top 10 singles on the Billboard Charts
4 #1 singles on the Billboard Charts
20 Juno Awards
15 Grammy Award nominations

And, that’s not all.  In addition to his music, Bryan Adams is also a skilled photographer, taking hundreds of photographs which have been published in various books and magazines all over the world.  Not bad for a 52-year-old who was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, eh?

Since 1977, Bryan Adams has been making music, and with the release of his debut album in 1980, his rise to the top of the charts began.

It was very difficult for me to select just one album of his that best describes his career.  1983’s “Cuts Like A Knife” could easily be considered his breakthrough album, but with only three singles charting, the entry wouldn’t be very interesting.  And while my favourite Bryan Adams album is his 1991 effort “Waking Up The Neighbours”, his most overplayed song happens to be on that same album.  While it’s a lovely song, I don’t want the focus to be on just one song.

So, what album did I decide to feature?  The answer is “Reckless”, Bryan Adams’ fourth album, which was dropped on November 5, 1984.

The reason why I chose this album is because it was certainly one of his biggest selling albums.  The album went five times platinum in the United States, and sold over one million copies in Bryan’s native Canada.  The album also did very well in the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.  The album holds the distinctive honour of being the first record in Canada to sell over one million copies, and was the first album of Bryan’s to reach the top of the Billboard 200. 

Six singles (or 60% of the album) were released from “Reckless” between 1984 and 1985, and each single managed to reach the Top 15, a feat only matched by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  So, for this July 1st, I thought we’d listen to these six singles, and have a bit of a discussion about each of them.

They’ll be posted in chronological order.  Here was the first release.

RELEASED:  October 18, 1984

I think of all the songs that were released on “Reckless”, this one is probably one of the most recognizable of any song released by Bryan Adams.  The song was actually one of the first to be recorded.  It was recorded in late March 1984, shortly after Adams toured Asia.  Ironically, it was the last song to be written for Reckless.  And, here’s a bit of trivia for you.  Did you know that the song was originally offered to Blue Oyster Cult?  They turned the song down, but Adams jumped on the chance, and it became his highest charting single at the time (it dethroned “Straight From The Heart” which peaked at #10 in 1983).  Another interesting fact about this single is that it was nominated for five MTV Video Music Awards, and lost all five awards.  However, if there is some good to take away from this, it is that “Run To You” was the most nominated video out of any of the ones that Bryan Adams ever made.

DATE RELEASED:  January 7, 1985

“Somebody” was one of those songs that had two different videos made of it.  The one that I have posted is the most common one that most people have seen.  The other one took place inside a football stadium, and featured the same woman (Lysette Anthony) who starred in the “Run To You” video.  The song itself has been praised for its simplistic chorus, with Adams’ long time collaborator Jim Vallance stating that the chorus is so simple that you could sing along with it even if you had never heard the song before.

“I need somebody, somebody like you.  We all need somebody.  Oh yeah.”  Yep, I can sing along to that one splendidly.

DATE RELEASED:  April 9, 1985

I’m sure that “Heaven” holds a special place in Bryan’s heart.  It was, after all, his first number one single on Billboard’s Hot 100.  The song was actually recorded around the time that his “Cuts Like A Knife” album was climbing the charts, in June 1983.  The song also appeared on the soundtrack of the 1983 film “A Night In Heaven”.  However, Bryan was reluctant to include the song on “Reckless”, as was producer Jimmy Iovine.  The slow ballad seemed out of place when compared to the hardness of the other tracks intended for “Reckless”, and he recommended that Adams not include it in the final cut.  But just before production wrapped, Adams had a change of heart, and “Heaven” was added to the list of final tracks.  Good thing too, considering how successful the song was.  Easily one of my favourite Bryan Adams songs.

Although I don’t know if I can ever forgive DJ Sammy, Yanou, or Do for completely bastardizing it in 2001 with this interpretation.

Oh, and here’s some trivia for you.  The scheduled drummer for the song had another commitment, and wasn’t able to make the recording session for this song, so another drummer filled in...Journey percussionist Steve Smith!

DATE RELEASED:  June 15, 1985

There’s a bit of an argument in regards to what the actual meaning is of the number sixty-nine in the song.  Some would argue that the song refers to the year 1969.  Bryan Adams stated that the number is a reference to the classic sex position, but Jim Vallance contradicted Adams’ claims, stating that it has no relation.  What do you think?

At any rate, “Summer of ‘69” is definitely one of those songs that you really have to have in your summer soundtrack.  The music video was directed by Steve Barron (who also directed “Run To You” almost a year earlier).

The song underwent some changes as Adams and Vallance wrote and re-wrote the lyrics, and they almost agreed to name the song “Best Days Of My Life”, as those words appeared in the song more than “Summer of ‘69”.  And here’s some trivia that you may not have known.  You know the line in the song that states “Jimmy quit, and Jody got married”?  If Jim Vallance had his way, the names would have been changed to Woody and Gordy, after members of his high school band.  Adams decided to go with his names instead.  He wasn’t sure where the name Jimmy came from, but Jody was based off of sound-manager Jody Perpik, who had actually gotten married during the “Reckless” recording sessions.

DATE RELEASED:  September 28, 1985

This was the fifth single from “Reckless”, and the song was as the title described.  It was a song about a one night stand.  Although the song didn’t perform as well as the other singles from “Reckless”, there is an amusing inside joke between Adams, Vallance, and guitarist Keith Scott.  There’s a lyric in “One Night Love Affair” that reads “if the night was made for love, it ain’t for keeps.”  When Adams and Vallance played it back for Keith, they changed the last word to ‘Keith’, which amused him greatly.  As a result of this joke, whenever the song is performed in concert, he stares directly at Keith and sings the manipulated line in an effort to get him to at least crack a smile of amusement during the show.  The next time you’re lucky enough to see Bryan Adams in concert, and he plays this song, keep an ear open.

IT’S ONLY LOVE (duet with Tina Turner)
DATE RELEASED:  November 3, 1985

1985 was a huge year for Tina Turner.  She had made a comeback the year before with the song “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” and ever since that song, she found herself on the top of the charts once more.  So when the opportunity came along for Tina to share a duet with Bryan Adams, (who himself saw his star power rise in 1985), she couldn’t refuse.  Nor could Bryan Adams, who stated that it was one of the most memorable collaborations he had ever worked on.  And, keep in mind that this was coming from a man who would eventually sing with Sting, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand and Melanie “Sporty Spice” Chisholm over the years. 

But there was just something special about Tina.  Adams used to watch Tina perform in clubs, and was mesmerized by her from the start.  To have the opportunity to sing with her at only twenty-four years of age was nothing short of awesome.  It’s just a shame that the song was the lowest performing single on “Reckless”, as I felt that it was one of both Bryan and Tina’s best singles.

And, there you have it...a look back on the 1984 album “Reckless” by Bryan Adams. 

Now I turn over discussion to you.

What is YOUR favourite Bryan Adams song and/or album? 

Happy Canada Day, Canadians everywhere!  And for you American readers out there, I haven’t forgotten about you.  I have a 4th of July entry planned that will lead off with a bang!

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