Bryan Adams – Reckless (1984)
Is there any doubt that “Reckless”, Canadian rocker Bryan Adams’ fourth album, is the pinnacle of his career? OK, there was the massive success of that “Everything I Do” single, but do you know anybody who still likes that song after it was UK number one for around sixteen years? Yes, yes, I know it was sixteen weeks, but at the time it felt like years. I don’t know what it is about “Reckless”, but everything just seems to be right about it. The songs are fantastic (co-writer Jim Vallance brought the best out of Adams), the production perfect, the performances full of energy and the whole album has a confidence and joy that he’d never managed to capture before and struggled to regain afterwards.
The singles (there were seven of them from the ten tracks, which gives it the feel of a greatest hits collection rather than a studio album) are amongst his best songs ever – the morally-dubious cheater’s anthem “Run To You” is far better than the subject matter deserves (it’s probably one of the greatest songs of the decade), “Summer Of ’69” is a fist-poundingly joyous slice of nostalgia, “Heaven” is beautifully tender and, despite the power ballad bombast, is wonderfully romantic, passionate slice of soft rock, “One Night Love Affair” is a melodic rocker that kicks off the album with a sense of purpose, the duet with Tina Turner, “It’s Only Love” has a fantastic opening riff and more balls than a sports equipment store and “Somebody” is a immensely catchy piece of pop-rock. The only single on the album I’m not overly keen on is “Kids Wanna Rock” as it seems to be the only cynically-written track to ‘get the crowds going’. It’s not bad, it’s just not anywhere near as good as the rest of the material on the release.
The other album tracks are also pretty good, “Long Gone”, especially; if it had been on one of Bryan’s weaker albums, it probably would have been a single. “She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancing” is a little throwaway and ordinary, but not too distracting from the overall quality of “Reckless”. Altogether, it’s not an over-exaggeration to call this a classic album, probably the only one that Adams has to his name, despite the longevity of his career and many hit singles. There are always going to be people who will sneer at a mainstream rock album like this, but for anyone who enjoys rock music, one listen to “Reckless” would probably be enough to convince those, apart from the biggest cynics, that this is a truly great piece of work. As George Michael would later title one of his albums, you really do need to listen without prejudice. Definitely one of the best albums of the 1980s.