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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Please Forgive Me: The Anthology Reviews #3: "Straight from the Heart"

Please Forgive Me: The Anthology Reviews is a track-by-track in-depth analysis of Bryan Adams's legacy in 36 installments. This is only #3.

Disc 1 Track #3: "Straight from the Heart" (Feb. '83)

So here's something: this was the first single from Cuts Like A Knife. Isn't that kind of funny? To lead off with a ballad like that? Risky move! But I guess it paid off. Of course, since back in that day he was hurrying out album after album each right on the prior album's heels, it wouldn't create the same impression as when an established act comes back after a long absence, and the first thing they hit you with is a dang ballad. That really tightens my jaws, especially when I know they're capable of better! Come on, you GOTTA rock us first one out the box, right??

But as I've said, as we see here, when you're putting out albums relentlessly, dare I say, recklessly - then, the same letdown does not apply. Then you can lead off with a ballad as your first single. Why not?

So. "Straight From The Heart." This pretty much becomes the template for the classic Bryan Adams ballad, of which we have many more yet to come. But there's something odd about the progression of these ballads, if one compares Bryan Adams's output to that of the various other '80s rockers who worked their own string of ballads. Whereas other acts more often than not hit on a successful template and then kept giving us lesser and lesser clones, progressively more watered-down versions of the same thing, Mr. Adams does almost the reverse. Somehow, he manages to keep giving us less-diluted, increasingly iconic versions of the same thing! "Straight From The Heart" is sincere and sweet as you please, no real bite to it at all. But for a good long run, almost every ballad after - while cut from substantially the same basic cloth and pattern - manages to be more concentrated, more emotionally complex, more musically hard-hitting, or in various other ways just plain more interesting.

It's amazing what a difference that makes. This song isn't the sound of a man finding a formula so he can milk it dry, this song is the sound of a man only just finding his feet, and eager to start setting world record after world record by beating personal bests.

That said, yes, it is kind of boring. It's a nice song! It's a little boring.

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