Bryan Adams – Bare Bones (CD review)

Bryan Adams – Bare Bones (Decca) CD review –

Bryan Adams began his career as a leather-clad rocker with hits like “Cuts Like a Knife,” and “Run to You.”  In 1991, he co-wrote a ballad for the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie which would change his career forever.  That song, “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” was a worldwide smash, and is still the second biggest-selling single ever in the US.  More power ballads followed to great success: “Please Forgive Me,” “All For Love,” and “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.”

– all without Adams ever having to release a new album.  In fact, it took Adams five years to finally release another studio record; and by that point, he had lost much of his rock fan base and his subsequent albums have sold poorly.  Now comes Bare Bones, an attempt to restore some of Adams’ credibility.  The 20-song live outing, recorded in front of a rabid audience, is just like the title suggests – just Adams on vocals and acoustic guitar, with the occasional piano thrown in for good measure.  Within this setting, there is no place for him to hide behind; no loud guitars or sappy strings.

The result is a very satisfying album.  Since it’s just Adams and a pianist on stage, the crowd plays a much larger role, singing along to favorites and even making requests inbetween songs.  Adams’ voice has a little more rasp than he used to, but he still pulls everything off.  In fact, minus the epic accompaniment, even the ballads sound great; stripped down of the pomp and circumstance.

Of course, Adams is in on the joke; he humorously twangs his way through the second verse of “Please Forgive Me” (a rather ironic moment for sure).  Adams is jovial throughout, encouraging crowd participation and telling a couple of great stories: he talks about seeing a youtube video of someone covering “Heaven” and then not being able to even find his version on the site.  There’s enough mix in his set of songs to please both the old rockers and the fans of his newer, mellower material.  No bones about it – this is Adams’ best record in years.  –Tony Peters