On November 5, 1984, Bryan Adams celebrated his 25th birthday releasing the album for which he will always be remembered: his fourth record “Reckless”. In order to commemorate its 30th anniversary, he has just put out a special Deluxe and SuperDeluxe edition of the LP.
The Deluxe version includes a remastered CD (or vinyl) with its 10 original songs plus 7 bonus tracks: six tunes that were recorded by other artists and one never released. What we´ll hear are Bryan´s original demos, which have a surprising great quality considering they are exactly that: demos. Also included is a live concert recorded by the BBC in London´s Hammersmith Odeon in April 1985 during that year´s world tour to promote the album.
Inside the SuperDeluxe version you´ll find both CDs as well as a DVD with the original 1984 “Reckless - The Movie” (almost all the singles forming a sort of an intertwined story), and the video for “It´s Only Love”, which couldn´t be in the movie since it was recorded in 1985. Lastly, there is a Blu-Ray with the original LP and the seven bonus tracks, as well as a great booklet with never before seen pictures of the recording sessions, all the lyrics, a conversation between Adams and co-writer Jim Vallance talking about the songs and their memories about the project, etc.
This box set is amazing. A must. Before I start talking about it, here is the link to the interview I did with Bryan a little more than a month ago talking about “Reckless Deluxe”:
The writing of the album began in December of ´83 and finished in March of ´84. It was interrupted in February when B.A. and the band had the chance to open for The Police in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, in their last concerts before they called it quits. “Reckless” was recorded between March and August ´84 and turned the young rocker into a superstar.
“One night love affair” is a great song with an anecdote: to make his guitarist Keith Scott laugh, the first time Bryan played it to him, he sang: “if the night was made for love, it ain´t for KEITH”. On the record you can see and hear the original lyric (“it ain´t for keeps”), but when they play it live, most times he sings it like that. The song was road tested in the Australian tour with The Police to check the audience reaction and see if it was worth including on the album. We know the answer.
The lyrics on “She´s Only Happy When She´s Dancin´” are inspired by “Another Day”, Paul McCartney´s first solo single. They both talk about a day in the life of some girl, only Adams/Vallance´s has a better time. Lou Gramm, singer of Foreigner, adds background vocals.
“Run To You” was written for Blue Oyster Cult, but they passed on it. In fact, the arpeggio riff in the beginning is inspired on “Don´t Fear The Reaper”. It´s a one take, which is not very usual. The organ in the chorus was supposed to serve as a guide for the background vocals but Bryan didn´t like them and they were left out. If you think about it, “Run To You” is one of the very few songs in the Adams catalogue that has no background vocals. It was the first single and his favorite on the whole album. He said: “It´s about three people. You, the one you love, and the one you fancy.”
Some people didn´t want “Heaven” to be on “Reckless”, since it had gone unnoticed when it had been released on the soundtrack of the movie for which it had been written the year before: well, it was his first number 1 in June of ´85.
“Somebody” was the second single. Little to comment about except what Bryan said: “That was me trying to sound like Nile Rogers”.
“Summer of ´69” was the most complicated song to record. Neither Adams nor Vallance could find an arrangement they were totally happy with. They recorded it three times until settling on what we know. At first, the track began with the middle section arpeggio, it was also slower… they even considered leaving it off the album. Nowadays, when they hear it on the radio, they can´t seem to understand what they didn´t like about it. The original title was “Best Days Of My Life”. It has become a rock´n´roll classic and it´s the song Bryan is always identified with.
In 2003, Bryan talked about every line of the song for his fanclub. Here we go:
I GOT MY FIRST REAL SIX-STRING: I wanted this song start out about what it was like to start a band, even though the song is really about having sex in the summer. I was really into Bob Seger´s songs at that time (still am)… songs like “Night Moves” and “Hollywood Nights”. Great stuff. I wanted a song that had that kind of sexual tension lyrically, this was my attempt at that.
BOUGHT IT AT THE FIVE-AND-DIME: I bought my first imitation Les Paul at a pawn shop in Ottawa in 1972, that is where that line comes from.
PLAYED IT TIL MY FINGERS BLED: Any guitarist will testify to this problem and in my case it was fact! When I started at age 10, the only time I put the guitar down was when my fingers were in shreads.
IT WAS THE SUMMER OF ´69: The oblique reference to making love. Over the years, Vallance had mentioned the film “Summer of ´42” at some point during our early writing years and it stuck with me. This is where the reference “Summer of…”comes from. I added 69 to the end of it and then worked backwards – writing the song, telling an imaginary tale of sex and summertime, using some of our own personal references.
ME AND SOME GUYS FROM SCHOOL HAD A BAND AND WE TRIED REAL HARD: That´s for sure. I spent years in my basement waiting for a singer to answer the ad we put in and no one answered the ad. So I became the singer. I met Vallance in 1978 and we spent years in his basement and mine writing songs. It´s all about the basement if you are a rock musician.
JIMMY QUIT AND JODY GOT MARRIED – I SHOULDA KNOWN WE´D NEVER GET FAR: Jimmy was a temporary drummer I had worked with on the first live solo tour I did in Canada, and Jody is my soundman – and still is more than thirty years later. Jimmy had some other references to people but I wanted it to be about real people in my life. Ironically Jim Vallance quit too, but I don´t think of him when I sing that bit.
OH WHEN I LOOK BACK NOW, THAT SUMMER SEEMED TO LAST FOREVER. AND IF I HAD THE CHOICE, YA I´D ALWAYS WANNA BE THERE – THOSE WERE THE BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE. Until I blurted out “summer of ´69!” the song was called “Best Days Of My Life”, which isn´t a bad title really, just the other one was more interesting. Much more could be read into “´69” and I think that is part of the song´s success.
AIN´T NO USE IN COMPLAININ´ WHEN YOU GOT A JOB TO DO. Ain´t that the truth? I had a job digging a ditch for minimum wage until I got a job stripping forms off concrete foundations. Then I hit the big time as a dishwasher in 1974 working for 2,10 $ an hour at a place called The Tomahawk Barbeque in North Vancouver. I did that for a year until I earned enough money to buy myself a proper guitar – a Fender Strat. The moment I had that guitar, I quit the kitchen career, joined a band and went on the road. I was 15.
SPENT MY EVENINS DOWN AT THE DRIVE-IN – AND THAT´S WHEN I MET YOU. Nostalgic imagery. I think Vallance mentioned the drive-in: it paints the picture of summer time and what it was like in Canada growing up – and getting it together with someone.
STANDIN´ ON YOUR MAMA´S PORCH. I loved the Mid-Western references that Springsteen, Seger and Cougar used. This is a nod to that. To tell the story it needed to have an innocence, the idea of dating someone, taking her home. The tenderness of a first kiss… all that stuff.
YOU TOLD ME THAT YOU´D WAIT FOREVER. OH AND WHEN YOU HELD MY HAND I KNEW THAT IT WAS NOW OR NEVER. THOSE WERE THE BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE. BACK IN THE SUMMER OF ´69. I´m glad she didn´t wait forever cuz she´d have waited a long time.
MAN WE WERE KILLIN´ TIME- WE WERE YOUNG AND RESTLESS-WE NEEDED TO UNWIND-I GUESS NOTHIN´ CAN LAST FOREVER. I was thinking about Bob Seger´s “Night Moves” in this section. The idea of sexually unwinding, not much of a care in the world other than that moment.
AND NOW THE TIMES ARE CHANGIN´. Bob Dylan reference here. I ended up touring with Dylan once in France. He´s incredible live – it was tough having to go up and sing my songs after his. It was embarrassing in fact.
LOOK AT EVERYTHING THAT´S COME AND GONE. SOMETIMES WHEN I PLAY THAT OLD SIX-STRING I THINK ABOUT YOU WONDER WHAT WENT WRONG. Pure nostalgia. You had a great summer, and when summer ended, it was all different. How come?
ME AND MY BABY IN A ´69. Need I say more?
In June ´84 B.A. decided he still didn´t have the album he wanted and decided to take a month off to cool out and try to write something new… and came back to the studio with “Kids Wanna Rock”, probably the hardest rocking song he´s ever written. “It was the one thing I thought this album really needed. And I can´t imagine it without it” , said Bryan. The title was an expression they´d been using for some time, but the idea took shape that summer of ´84 when they went to a Thomas Dolby concert… and walked out after a few minutes. That´s where lines like “This computerized crap ain´t gettin´ me off, everywhere I go the kids wanna rock” originated.
Little to say about “It´s Only Love”, the awesome duet he recorded with Tina Turner, that hasn´t been said. Pure rockin´ chemistry.
“Long Gone” is a humorous song about divorce that could have been included on “Cuts Like A Knife”, but it took them a while to find the right lyric. The song took a life of its own in concert due to the audience participation.
The record ends with “Ain´t Gonna Cry”, a hard rocking ditty which serves as an introduction to Keith Scott´s vocal chords: he´s the one screaming at the very end of the song. He was playing the guitar lying on the floor of the studio with the headphones taped to his head with gaffer´s tape so they wouldn´t fall off.
There go the 10 original songs. Let´s review the bonus tracks now:
“Let Me Down Easy”, although written for Stevie Nicks, was finally recorded by Roger Daltrey for his “Under A Raging Moon” solo LP. Bryan even appeared on the video. Good song. Adams sings it in a slightly different way and his version is somewhat reminiscent of “Somebody”.
“Teacher Teacher” is a catchy rocker that was recorded by 38 Special for the movie “Teachers”. Bryan said: “I had always wanted to write a song that had a word repeated twice, that was my inspiration”.
“Boys Night Out” is a great rocker that was supposed to go on “Reckless”, but the band Krokus asked for it and B.A. gave it away, which didn´t make Vallance very happy and made manager Bruce Allen downright angry: he loved the song and wanted it on the album. Now we have the chance to know the author´s version, which is a bit slower.
“Draw The Line” was recorded, among others, by Ted Nugent and it´s another rockin´ tune we´ll now enjoy on Adams´ unmistakable voice.
“Play To Win” is another great rocker with another equally great vocal by Bryan.
“Too Hot To Handle” is the unreleased song on this box set. It had not been recorded by anybody until now. It´s an awesome track that sounds like the ZZ TOP of the “Eliminator” era. It´s hard to believe it wasn´t included on “Reckless” or any other album. It´s worth pointing out that Mr. Adams takes care of both rhythm and lead guitar on this tune.
The last unreleased song by the Canadian is the title track: “Reckless”. It didn´t make the album since it was written around the same time it hit the shops so they gave it away to Loverboy, who recorded it and changed the title to “Dangerous” to avoid comparisons with their hometown buddy. According to what I´ve heard in recent interviews, I think it´s Bryan´s favorite among the bonus tracks. No surprise: it´s a really cool tune.
Other songs written for the LP that haven´t been included in this box set were “Diana”, about the Princess of Wales, which ended up on the b-side of the “Heaven” single, and “Edge of A Dream”, recorded by Joe Cocker for the soundtrack of the movie “Teachers”.
The second CD is a live concert recorded in London in April 1985. The best thing for fans of that era is the live version of “Long Gone”, hard to find in bootlegs of that tour.
I do want to rescue one of my favorite songs: “The Only One”, the opening track on his previous album "Cuts Like A Knife".
The "Reckless - The Movie" DVD contains the videos for
“Summer of ´69”
“Kids Wanna Rock”
and “Run To You”
as well as “It´s Only Love”, which was recorded live a few months after it was released.
To sum up, Adams brings us a box set with his best compositions of ´84-´85. Indispensable. Personally, I would love it if he did something similar with “Into The Fire”.
Finally, I´d like to point out that Bryan has just began a “Reckless 30th Anniversary Tour”, with dates confirmed in the UK, Europe and Canada until February 2015 which will probably continue throughout the rest of the year. If it comes to your town, don´t you dare miss it!