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Bryan Adams: Bare Bones
It doesn’t happen every day to find an artist who sounds as good live as he does on his studio-recorded albums. So when Bryan Adams chooses to strip down his most popular songs to their acoustic bare bones minus the backing vocals and instruments; we know that it will be worth it.
It has been thirteen years since the Canadian rocker’s live album MTV Unplugged, which was well received for its simplicity as well as Adams' rich acoustic vocals and guitar riffs. Bare Bones was recorded during Adams' eponymous tour in 2010, and it reminds us again of the precision and splendour of his live performances, this time with the occasional accompaniment of keyboardist Gary Breit.
The twenty-track listing of the album is an organised collection of Adams’ greatest hits. Song selections include titles from hit albums as old as his 1983 album Cuts Like A Knife, with the popular hits ‘I’m Ready’ and ‘Cuts Like A Knife’ pleasantly renewed here with a backing solitary guitar. The album also features the new and fast-paced single ‘You’ve Been a Friend to Me,’ which lifts the steady rhythm of the album to a more refreshing dance beat.
Bare Bones may be disappointing to those expecting Adams’ iconic rock songs to be performed in their original arrangement. ‘Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You’ actually sounds more interesting in its acoustic version without the original beat, though ‘It Ain't a Party’ doesn’t work as smoothly.
One thing that makes this album enjoyable to listen to is how Adams interacts with the audience; he talks to the listeners through the music, occasionally altering the lyrics to fit the mood and amuse the audience. This is especially poignant when Adams plays his greatest hit, the ageless ‘Everything I Do,’ which has his audience singing backing vocals that adds an emotional depth to the live version.
It was his 80s and early 90s hits that put Bryan Adams on the musical map, and that’s exactly what the album presents: the earlier rock chords that made him rule the charts. While live albums with little to no musical background can be a tough idea for some, Bare Bones definitely deserves a chance.
Album opener ‘San Angeles’ will get feet moving and booties shaking, but the rest of the album is decidedly more post-rock oriented. The influences of Pink Floyd only really make a grand appearance on psychedelic tune ‘Lunar Drift’, with its spooky synths and echoing bass line.
‘The Eliminator’ takes the listener back to the eighties again, as the repetitive electronic beat that is used sounds a lot like the 8-bit sounds that were the backdrop for many early eighties video games. Imagine the aforementioned desert wasteland turning 8-bit coloured.
The eighties also dominate in the strummed intro to ‘Martin Rev’, evoking memories of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. You’d almost think the guys of Maserati had wished they were making music a few decades ago.
Having released no new material for almost a decade, Metallica finally return to the scene with their latest album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. Written mostly by James Hatfield and Lars Ulrich, this is the first album that doesn’t include any song writing contributions from Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983; when the album was being written, he lost his phone in a Copenhagen airport which included 250 riff ideas so he had to start from scratch.
The two disk album has 12 tracks in total with 6 on each that still retain the thrash metal vibe that Metallica has come to be known for. Following the same fast pace, the first song ,‘Hardwired’ starts with a steady drum and guitar riff that will get you head banging and tapping your feet in no time.
With strong songs like ‘Moth into Flame’ and ‘Halo on Fire’, the first disk has the familiar thrash tropes that make it what it is; it’s fast, it’s hard, it’s in your face and has an attitude, which is what makes Metallica so awesome.
However, the first disk is not without fault; the fifth song ‘Dream No More’ feels out of place musically as its rhythm and guitar work doesn’t feel cohesive with the rest of the songs on the disk, as if it was supposed to be on a different disk or in another album as it goes from fast then slow and conflicting itself.
The second disk, on the other hand, starts on a different note with songs like ’Am I Savage?’ and ‘Here Comes Revenge’ following a slower tone than the rest of the album, though ’Spit out the Bone’ might be the fastest song on the whole album and will surely make you feel like you need to catch your breath afterwards.
As a whole, the album sounds like one huge song, especially the first disk which feels fluid and, in a way, follows a rhythmic pattern; however, the second feels a bit tamed and toned down, as even though it has some fast-as-lighting guitar work, it still lacks some oomph to it. Still, it offers a level of satisfaction for diehard fans who have waited for eight years for new material.
All in all, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is a great addition to the band’s discography; the band members have given it their all, while not showing their age. We just hope it doesn’t take them another eight years till the next one