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Reckless by Bryan Adams – Classic Album Review

Home > Everywhere > Music | Performing Arts | Vintage and Retro
by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published July 2nd 2019
Great album from the 1980s
If you were old enough, there was a time in 1984 to 1985 when you could not go an hour without hearing a Bryan Adams song somewhere. The album in question, Reckless, released in 1984, spawned a number of singles and contains two songs that have become absolute classics of 80s rock, and that are still played and covered and everything else today.
bryan adams, reckless, album, cd, cover, music

This album was one of the biggest sellers of the 1980s, but tends to be eclipsed by Michael Jackson's Thriller and Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A. in people's minds. However, like those two albums, six singles were released, and also like those two, all six cracked the US Billboard chart top 20. That is quite an achievement, something I do not think we will see again in modern times with digital downloads and digital albums becoming the norm.

While this album was an excellent album, Bryan Adams did not rest on his laurels, continuing to release big-selling albums and great singles over the ensuing decades. But none of his subsequent releases were as consistently good as Reckless, with every song being at the very least really good. Yes, this is another classic album I'm writing about where I like every single song. There's not too many more, so don't worry…

Now, I bought this on cassette when I was at the Scout Jamboree somewhere in New South Wales in late 1984, early 1985. I already owned the 45 of 'Run To You' and when I saw the cassette at a special price for scouts, I used a large chunk of my spending money to grab it. I wore it out and had to replace it within 2 years. It was one of the first CDs I bought when I got my first player because I'd worn the second cassette out as well. Having said that, I have not bought any of the re-release or updated editions because, to me, it is perfect the way it is.

Side one (yes, still sides!) opens with 'One Night Love Affair'. Now, this is a good song, but to me it is one of the lesser songs on the album. When I first listened to this song, I didn't really understand it (I was 14 years old! give me a break). But it does have a great, persistent drumbeat, a decent guitar solo and, now that I understand it, the lyrics are actually quite sad.

'She's Only Happy When She's Dancin'' follows, and this track was a little more easily understood by teenaged me. There is something about that guitar riff that plugs all the way through and the fact we could clap along to the chorus made it a perfect party song. The guitar solo is another good one, and the whole song just has a really cool, positive vibe about it.

Then we come to the first single released from the album – 'Run To You'. As I said, I bought the single. I enjoyed this track from the first moment I heard it. The sustained guitar notes at the start and a chorus so easy to sing along to, it was amazing. Again, it was a couple of years before I actually understood what the lyrics were about, but that did not detract from the song for me; if anything, it made it feel a little more personal when I did understand it.

Now we come to one of the biggest songs of the 80s, and one of the biggest ballads ever: 'Heaven'. I was more into New Wave Of British Heavy Metal style music in 1985 when this song was released, and even I found myself singing along to it every single time it was playing on the radio. Yes, I already knew the song from owning the album, and, yes, I already liked it, but there was a time in the middle of 1985 where this song was absolutely everywhere. Its sentiments are actually love-filled, and it is such a cool sing-along song. I've heard a few cover versions, but none are as good as the original. There is just something about Adams' slightly rough vocals that make it seem more real and heartfelt. Brilliant ballad, just superb.

Side one ends with 'Somebody', another song released as a single, and another great track. I remember this being played at least one Blue Light Disco and everyone joining in and it being such a great time, and couples singing it to one another, even though we were only teenagers and had no idea just what it was we were really singing, just that we needed somebody like the person we were with and all was right in our worlds. To me this song represents the innocence of young "love".

Side two opens with what is one of Adams' best known and most popular songs – 'Summer Of '69'. I like to think of it as a song celebrating being a youth (although Adams was only 10 or so in 1969), and I have read various things indicating its title was meant to conjure images of the film Summer Of '42 while referencing a year many people saw as the peak of the hippy ideal with Woodstock. Adams has said the song is about losing his virginity or about making love to a girl or first love, but I don't care – to me it's about remembering that first time you did something you knew was going to be important for the rest of your life. In my case, that would be my writing, and in 1986 I wrote my first proper novel-length work (28000 words) that I still have a copy of, and which my friends shared and said they enjoyed reading. But this song was popular at the Blue Light Discos, and those opening lines – "I got my first real six-string, boy, at the five and dime…" – could probably be heard for miles in every direction as we all joined in. To me, this song always conjures images of joy and friendship and is such a glorious track.

'Kids Wanna Rock' follows, and it is in a hard place following that last song! But it follows a similar theme – music is the "it" – and, to its credit, it holds up quite well. From the guitar opening, this is heavier than the song it follows. I do remember a party at Brett's place where we sang this song (well, screamed insanely), everyone, all together. I'm surprised the neighbours didn't call the cops, we must have been so stupidly loud. It's that sort of song.

Tina Turner guests on the next track, 'It's Only Love'. I think without her, this would have been a so-so song, but she adds something to it that just brings it up to the next level of goodness. A slower track (though not a ballad), it definitely benefits from having that female voice – and one that is a perfect match for Adams' own vocals – to give it a sense of a back and forth conversation.

'Long Gone' follows a straight-forward rocker. This is the sort of song that really suits Adams' voice; a smoother rendition would have made it feel almost too clean, when this song needs to be sung with that hint of grit and rawness. And the harmonica really helps.

And we finish with 'Ain't Gonna Cry' which is my favourite song on the album, and yet it is also one of the few songs not released as a single. I don't know what it is about it, but there is something about the pounding drum beat and a sing-along chorus that gets me. It's not like it spoke to me on a personal level; I don't remember having a nasty break-up at the time I got the album and listened to it, and I don't think I had a nasty break-up for a few more years after the record came out, so it was just a sense in the song that stirred something in me, and I just really, really enjoy it.

And there you have it – another classic album that does not have a bad track on it. This one is probably a little more in tune with people of my generation/age, maybe on a par with Billy Joel's An Innocent Man for us. But whereas not many of Joel's songs now get airplay, you can still be guaranteed that somewhere 'Summer Of '69' or 'Heaven' or 'Run To You' will be playing…
bryan adams, 2007, musician, reckless
Adams in 2007

Obviously, I recommend you get (or at least listen to) this, and there are a few versions now that I have not yet heard. The 30th-anniversary edition has 7 extra tracks from the time and a live disc, while the Super Deluxe Edition includes a DVD (or Blu-ray). But I like the original album in all its 10-track, 40-minute glory.

Thoroughly recommended.

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Your Comment
Got introduced to Bryan Adams by my very first boyfriend. We went to the concert together and would listen to it on cassette in his car. Your old friend Tracy T. was also a big fan and we also went to the concert when he toured again in 1992 (I think) good times
by Bec W (score: 1|27) 678 days ago
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