Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bryan Adams

  • Reckless [A&M, 1985] C-
  • Into the Fire [A&M, 1987] C+
  • Waking Up the Neighbors [A&M, 1991] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Reckless [A&M, 1985]
The megabuck stops here. Maybe I'll let Bruce Springsteen teach me how to hear John Cougar Mellencamp, but damned if I'm going to let John Cougar Mellencamp teach me how to hear Bryan Adams. From antipunkdiscowave strut to Flashdance homage, he's a generic American hunk, only whiter because he's Canadian. Where Sammy Hagar flaunts his anticommunism and Don Henley flaunts his mouth, Adams flaunts nothing more and nothing less than his young reliable bod. Like all the above-mentioned good and bad he shares a mysterious nostalgia for the recent past with a lot of people who aren't half dead yet, at least chronologically. And more than any of them he has real problems relaxing, which puts him square in the soul-as-will-and-idea tradition of Lou Gramm, Pat Boone, Sophie Tucker, and so many others. C-

Into the Fire [A&M, 1987]
It's got to be deliberate, the voice of the common man or some such. Nevertheless, making all allowances--overlooking quotes/references ("eight miles high"), universals ("the rent is due"), attempted wordplay ("a table for one and a broken heart to go"), and simple idioms ("count me in," "white flag," "heaven knows," "it's up to you")--I count an astonishing fifty-six full-fledged clichés on what's supposed to be a significance move, from "caught in the crossfire" in the first line to "the worst is over" in the third-to-last. And while "Only the Strong Survive," the biggest offender with twelve, streamrollers across despite it all, neither Don Henley soul nor emergent social conscience justify the dumbness density. I know the salt of the earth is the shape of things to come, but these words of wisdom are beyond the pale. C+

Waking Up the Neighbors [A&M, 1991] Dud