October 29, 2014 Bryan Adams – Tracks of My Years (Album Review)
Canadian Rocker Bryan Adams returns with his first studio album since 2008’s 11 with Tracks of My Years. Looking to do something different with this album, Adams provides a selection of covers recorded during a two year period with one brand new original song thrown into the mix. Since its release on the 30th of September, it has already hit number one in the Canadian Album charts, not unexpected as Bryan Adams remains his home countries biggest selling artist ever. Since releasing Reckless back in 1984, his trademark husky vocals have been thrilling fans worldwide. This album sees him re-work some of the songs he grew up with, his interpretations of classics that would have inspired him when he was younger.
The first track is “Any Time at All,” a track originally by The Beatles and covered by people like Nils Lofgren and OK Go. Adams’ vocals suit the song well, and it is infinitely superior to the original. Next up is the only new track on the album, a classic Adams’ tune written with Jim Vallance, titled “She Knows Me.” It is a pleasing love song and it seems to belong to the same era as the song’s that are being covered and fits in well. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” was first written by Don Gibson and has been covered by many including Leo Sayer, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and even Frank Sinatra. This is a lovely rendition, slow and reminiscent of Sunday mornings with the radio playing while the roast cooks; gentle and comforting. “Kiss and Say Goodbye,” recorded originally by The Manhattans, one of the least covered of the songs, the only one noted was by Billy Joe Royal. Adams provides a soulful delivery in the best traditions of Rhythm and Blues with an overall fine performance. Next is “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan and covered by The Everley Brothers, Melanie, and Duran Duran amongst others. This is a sweet interpretation complemented by soft and hushed tones which make it calming. Completely the opposite is “Rock and Roll Music” written by Chuck Berry and covered by everyone from Bill Haley & the Comets to the Manic Street Preachers. Making for a fun fast-paced Rock-n-Roll song, Adams keeps to the original quite closely as a proper jive tune to dance to. “Down on the Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival is another of those songs covered by just about everyone, including the Goo Goo Dolls, The Mavericks, and Beastie Boys. Folk Rock, with a lively, rough feel, works for this track since if it was too polished it would seem fake. “Never My Love” was written by The Addrisi Brothers and was a hit for The Association, since then it has been covered by a wide range of acts including Etta James, Barry Manilow, and even David Hasselhoff. It is a slow ballad with bluesy guitars and a wonderful swaying rhythm. Following is “Sunny” written by Bobby Hebb in the forty-eight hours that followed after the death of JFK and his own older brother, Harold, who was stabbed the same day. It has been covered by Boney M, James Brown, and Dusty Springfield. A joyful song that will bring a smile to the listeners face, though it was written at an obviously sad time, Adams does it justice. “The Tracks of My Tears” was made famous by Smokey Robinson when he was in The Miracles; covered by Linda Ronstadt, Aretha Franklin, and Go West. Adams’ takes the Motown classic rocks it up; giving it his signature touch. Making for a wonderful selection, “God Only Knows” by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, later covered by Neil Diamond, David Bowie, and Taylor Swift, and recently recorded by a host of big names to launch BBC Music in the UK. Easily the best track, here Adams gets away from the original slightly and gives us a heartfelt version that is simple, melodic, and beautiful.
The Deluxe version (not reviewed) also has additional tracks: “You’ve Been a Friend to Me”, a re-mixing of a song released by Bryan Adams in 2009; “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, the Kris Kristofferson song; “C’mon Everybody” by Eddie Cochran; “Two Many Rivers to Cross” from Jimmy Cliff and “You Shook Me” recorded by Muddy Waters.
What Bryan Adams has created is an album of much loved tunes people will recognize. It begs the question, if they have been recorded so many times by so many huge names, why do it again, and in some ways it is a shame that he did not pick more obscure songs to make his mark upon, but then these tracks must have specific meanings to him and this is his way of celebrating the music that inspired him. He has a very discernible style and stamps his style onto each track of Tracks of My Years. Long-time fans will certainly enjoy his renditions and appreciate his selection of songs for this album. Undoubtedly, it is an enjoyable set of covers, very mellow, and warming. CrypticRock give this Tracks of My Years 4 out of 5 stars.