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Bryan Adams - Room Service


Review: Jack Foley

IT'S BEEN a while since Bryan Adams delivered a really good record, such as Summer of '69 or Run To You, or even Into The Fire, yet the release of the new single, Open Road, seemed to suggest a return to that sort of form.

It was a far more rock-driven number, fuelled by old-school sensibilities, rather than the sort of drippy ballads that were beginning to become something of a distinguishing feature, courtesy of singles such as All For Love, Please Forgive Me, Have You Ever Loved A Woman and, of course, that epic, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. And let's not even talk about his Spirit: Stallion soundtrack!

With Room Service, however, the man infamously dubbed 'the groover from Vancouver' seems to have gone back to his early days for inspiration, delivering such feel-good tracks as album opener, East Side Story, and the guilty pleasure, She's A Little Too Good For Me.

There is the odd ballad, of course, in the form of tracks such as the trite Flying and the mushy album closer, Why Do You Have To Be So Hard To Love, that seem certain to appeal to the deeply romantic among you.

Thankfully, however, they are evenly spread across the album - and it works all the better for it.

The majority of the time, Adams is on hot rockin' form, blasting out the sort of lyrics that we have come to know and love from him, whether it's recalling that fleeting, but exciting moment when you make eye contact with a stranger in a big city (East Side Story), or taking a shot at yourself over a failing relationship (She’s A Little Too Good For Me).

Such sentiments are easily identifiable and Adams has long been the master of playing to the shy guy in all of us - especially since he cuts such an unassuming figure in real-life, complete with trademark jeans and white T-shirt.

He is the rock star we can all root for, the sort of fella we'd like to take for a beer, and someone you kind of feel you'd always have a good time with.

When he sings 'she left her shoes up on the beach, she left my dreams just out of reach, she left her footsteps in the sand', during the opening moments of I Was Only Dreamin', you can't help but feel for him.

Yet Room Service, as a whole, feels like a very personal journey, an exorcising of demons, and a compelling insight into what life must be like on the rock 'n' roll road.

It was largely recorded in hotel rooms and backstage while Adams was on tour across Europe over the past two years, and comes with a vibrancy that feels more immediate and more intimate than something which has been over-produced in a studio.

Hence, lyrics such as 'when a hotel room's the closest thing you've got to home', and 'been on the road nearly all my life', during the catchy title track, come as no surprise, given the state of mind Adams must have been in when writing.

It all adds to the endearing nature of the album, which, for me, probably has to rate among the finest efforts of a long and distinguished career.

The Open Road, while lonely, might yet be a bump-free ride for Adams for a good while yet if he continues to realise this sort of quality.

 

Track listing:
1. East Side Story
2. This Side Of Paradise
3. Not Romeo Not Juliet
4. Flying
5. She's A Little Too Good For Me
6. Open Road
7. Room Service
8. I Was Only Dreamin'
9. Right Back Where I Started From
10. Nowhere Fast
11. Why Do You Have To Be So Hard To Love
12. Blessing In Disguise

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