Bryan Adams – So Far So Good (1993)
Even though my CD copy is a more recent purchase (I must have had it for at least a decade), I actually bought this album on cassette a few days after it was released from the HMV store in Dundee. I was eighteen years old and had just split up with my first love after nearly two years together, so it brings back some bitter-sweet memories of thinking that the world had ended, that I would never be happy again (I know, but I was a kid) and provided the perfect soundtrack to teenage heartbreak at the time. Nostalgia aside, if you’re looking for a great Bryan Adams compilation, you can’t go far wrong with this 1993 “Greatest Hits” package. With a lean fourteen tracks, this really do go straight for the jugular and provides a superb overview of Bryan’s biggest songs up until that point and whether that satisfies your Adams needs depends on whether you’re a fan of his later material or not. Personally, I’m not, as there is probably only one song I would consider worthy of adding to this album and that’s the single he released with Spice Girl Mel C, “When You’re Gone”. The rest I can really live without, especially the cringe-worthy “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” which must be quite high up on my list of songs I really cannot stand. That collaboration with Sting and Rod Stewart was fairly dreadful too, so, yes, I’m very happy to end my Bryan Adams collection in the early nineties and run the risk of missing the odd gem or two which I’m sure must exist, post-1993.
It says a lot that the only song I’m not overly fond of on here is “Kids Wanna Rock” – and even that’s perfectly listenable. The rest of the material is almost wholly brilliant and are amongst the best written, produced and performed songs you will ever hear from the soft rock genre. Even that monster of a hit “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” has aged rather well and, now the unbearable heavy radio rotation of 1991 is a distant memory, it’s much easier to enjoy as the classy ballad it is. “Summer Of ’69” kicks the album off explosively and the classic nostalgia-based song, reminiscing about the hazy years of care-free youth and young love is a subject matter that most will be able to relate to and enjoy immensely. “Straight From The Heart” is another I like a lot, being a heartfelt ballad, pleading with his lover for honesty and to give their relationship another chance, delivered simply, without the usual Adams bombast. Another of my favourites is the dramatic “Do I Have To Say The Words?”, another woeful, pleading tale of broken love which Bryan delivers so well. I also particularly like the guitar phrase that follows each sung line of the chorus; it’s such a brilliantly written and arranged song.
“Run To You” is a clear-cut classic, the excitement, passion and shame of deceit are portrayed magnificently in this early highlight of his career and it’s a composition I love, despite not liking the subject matter too much. That dreadful club version of “Heaven” (by DJ Sammy) that was around a decade ago had only one good purpose and that was to remind people of what a great song the original was. Oddly enough, it nearly didn’t make it onto Bryan’s classic “Reckless” album as he and his producer thought that it was a bit too soft. Luckily, Adams changed his mind at the last minute and it has now become one of his best known power ballads. “Heat Of The Night” is another particularly enjoyable one, with a mean, moody verse and anthem-like chorus and is the only representative from 1987’s “Into The Fire” album here. There is a previously unreleased song on this album, “Please Forgive Me” (there was supposed to be another new one called “So Far So Good” at the beginning of the album, but that one was considered unsuitable and dropped) which took a little getting used to at the time, but the “quiet-loud-quiet-loud” power ballad now sounds like it belongs on a greatest hits project such as this which is, incidentally, still one of Adams’ best selling albums of all time.
If you’ve just had your heart broken, it sounds great. If you’re madly in love with someone and are having the happiest, most euphoric time of your life, it sounds great. If you’re not in a relationship with anybody and don’t particularly want to be, it still sounds great. I think you can see what I’m trying to say, here. This collection only features Adams at his finest and is a perfect snapshot of his career when his stock was at its highest. Even though he is still a popular artist and it wasn’t necessarily downhill from this point on, I think it is fair to say that this compilation was conceived and released at perhaps the ideal time in his career where he had a whole album’s worth of nothing but brilliant, immaculate commercial rock. Now, if you don’t like this kind of music and don’t really like Bryan Adams, then this isn’t going to change your mind, but if you like one or two of his songs and want to discover more, then this is an excellent place to start… either this or his finest studio album, “Reckless”, of course. Other collections are available with lots more material on offer, but, in this fan’s opinion, picking and choosing songs from his later releases only serves to dilute the quality on offer on this near-perfect album.