Album review: Bryan Adams, Unplugged (1998)

 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 19, 1998

By Steve Newton

I don’t enjoy slagging hometown heroes, but Bryan Adams has gone too far with this desperate cash grab in the worn-out “unplugged” market. That incredibly sappy duet he recorded with Barbra Streisand a while back must have gone to his head, Michael Bolton–style, somehow compelling the once-rocking pride of North Van to re-create his previously upbeat hits in a sombre style suited to the old folks’ home.

It was nice of Adams to let some students from the Juilliard School of Music get their violin and cello licks in on “18 Til I Die”, but now that tune is more accurately titled “65 and Barely Alive”. I’ve got nothing against mandolins and uilleann pipes, either, but they sure sound out of place amid the “naa naa naa” chorus of “Cuts Like a Knife”.

And what the hell was Adams thinking when he turned the formerly raucous “I’m Ready” into a flute- and strings-drenched sleep inducer? The only bright points on Unplugged are the catchy new pop gem “Back to You” and the bluegrassy “I Think About You”, but they hardly justify this egotistical exercise in blandness.

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