Bryan Adams – Waking Up The Neighbours (1991)
This is one of those albums that, whilst a massive success at the time, was never quite as good as the hype suggested it was. Fuelled by the record-breaking success of “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” from the motion picture “Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves”, a song that would spend sixteen weeks as UK number one and was probably the first dance of hundreds (if not thousands) of newly married couples at wedding receptions across the world, this album sold by the bucket-load. In fact, buckets would have been completely ineffective. Skips, articulated lorries and cross channel ferries would have been required for this behemoth. So, an album that sold ten million copies worldwide must be bloody good, right? Well, not really. I didn’t buy into the hype at the time, mainly because my taste in rock at the time was a little harder, not to mention the fact that I was absolutely sick of that bloody “Robin Hood” song, and only bought this album back in 2008 when I saw it for a couple of quid on Amazon. Sadly, it wasn’t even worth that. Without the big singles on the album, there’s not much substance here at all. It’s a sixteen track, overblown, exceedingly ordinary piece of work that sounds as if it was written to be commercial rather than than to actually be any good.
Ironically, it’s the song I really disliked in 1991 which stands up as one of the best tracks on the album. With the music by the late, great Michael Kamen and made into a rock song by Adams and “Mutt” Lange, the full, six-and-a-half minute, version is undoubtedly classy. Perhaps my favourite cut on the album (and the only track I think really compares to tracks from classic album “Reckless”) is the dramatic and powerful “Do I Have To Say The Words?” which, to me, is the superior ballad of the two. There are a few other decent songs on the album, “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” rocks, rolls and tumbles along pleasingly, for one, and even the slightly naff phasing effects make me smile. However, with a massive sixteen tracks, these enjoyable songs feel a little few and far between. Even all of the singles are far from essential. “Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven” is trite, clichéd and the sort of beige, uninspired song it was difficult to mourn when Nirvana came along and completely murdered this genre. The same goes for “There Will Never Be Another Tonight” which, astonishing to me for a song so horribly ordinary, was quite a big hit.
At best, the majority of the album is decent, radio-friendly rock. At worst, it is bland, cynically-commercial, annoyingly-dull filler with the emotional depth of an American daytime soap opera and the punch of a bedridden pensioner with dysentery. The inane second track, “Hey Honey – I’m Packin’ You In!” is the kind of song that makes me want to press the stop button on the CD player and throw the whole thing in the rubbish (Hey Bryan – You’re Goin’ In The Bin!), but, unfortunately, you have to get through bland mush like this to get to the few good songs. This release could be massively improved by cutting the length by at least a third, re-writing a further third of it and… well, basically, being a different album entirely, really. If you have a greatest hits album of Adams’, then I honestly wouldn’t bother with this one, the best tracks from “Waking Up The Neighbours” all appear on the good compilations and, even for a penny (plus postage and packing), which is what you can buy good second hand copies for on Amazon currently, I wouldn’t recommend you clutter up your album collection with this one.