Waking up the Neighbours' will, with no sweat, reestablish Bryan Adams as the radio's hoarse purveyor of energy and fun. A scrupulously careful yet adamantly alive piece of work, this collaboration between the Canadian singer-guitarist and the Midas-touch songwriter-producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange alternates half-tamed sonic raunch like "Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya?" and "Hey Honey I'm Packin' You In!" with eloquent mall ballads such as "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," Adams's current planet-wide phenomenon, and the even moodier "Do I Have to Say the Words?" For further balance there is fairly soulful midtempo rock ("Depend on Me") and an oddly toned state-of-the-world finale called "Don't Drop That Bomb on Me."
Like most capable pop craftsmen hellbent on seizing the airwaves, Adams and Lange walk a fine line between familiarity and derivativeness, between the blazingly immediate and the outright stale. So some tunes on Waking Up the Neighbours have turned out too broad for anyone's taste. "House Arrest" doesn't convey much of the atmosphere of "justa havin' a ball," and the hectoring sing-along "There Will Never Be Another Tonight" collapses into silliness in no time flat. More often, however, all Adams and Lange's high-impact verses and choruses and bridges and subbridges work like charms. The arrangements are only faintly dressed up with well-chosen bits of keyboard and percussion, and Bob Clearmountain's mix emphasizes Adams's vocals and Keith Scott's memorable guitar hooks not, as per current market fashion, the rhythm section.
Bryan Adams became a superstar on the basis of Reckless, from 1984, an album released just as Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. was beginning to exert its enormous influence over how guitar-defined popsters should think, sound and wear their denim. Three years later, with his dull Into the Fire, Adams let his always believable passion for melody and crunch lead him into attempts at the sort of topical, introspective songwriting that Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp sometimes can pull off. But between 1987 and right now, the Traveling Wilburys restored humor and the Black Crowes embraced vulgarity. However you may feel about this turn of events in the evolution of nonmetal, bestselling guitar pop, one thing seems certain: It's coaxed Bryan Adams back toward his natural calling. (RS 615)
(Posted: Oct 17, 1991)
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- Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya?
- Hey Honey I'm Packin' You In!
- Can't Stop This Thing We Started
- Thought I'd Died And Gone To Heaven
- Not Guilty
- House Arrest
- Do I Have To Say The Words
- There Will Never Be Another Tonight
- All I Want Is You
- Depend On Me
- Everything I Do, I Do For You
- If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?)