Here´s the new studio effort by Bryan Adams: "Get Up" is his first with original songs since "11", which came out in 2008, but it´s his third in the past 12 months, after the covers album "Tracks Of My Years" (October 2014) and the 30th Anniversary Deluxe edition of "Reckless" (November 2014).
I had the chance of talking with him exactly one year ago (see here:
and he already was super-excited about the songs he had recorded for this album. They were written whenever he found the time since late 2012 until late 2014, with no pressure or deadline from the record company, a fact that has clearly been important to achieve such a great final result. Both the songwriters and the producer have enjoyed the process and it shows. This work oozes looseness in the preparation of the songs, with a sober production simply oriented (and that´s a lot) to enhance the quality of the compositions.
There are two very important people that must be mentioned: for the first time since "Into The fire" was released 28 years ago, all the songs except one have been co-written with his longtime partner in crime, the great Jim Vallance... and they have created Adams' best LP in a long time. Coincidence? I don't think so. In the past few months both songwriters have been qualifying these tunes as "our best since "Reckless" ". The singer himself has gone as far as to define it as "the record I would have liked to make 25 years ago".
The other one is producer Jeff Lynne; ELO's leader, former Traveling Wilbury, producer of Petty, McCartney, Harrison, Orbison... His work is noticeable... for good reasons. Bryan has said it has been a pleasure composing a whole album with his old friend and that Jim and Jeff form his own particular Dream Team, to the point where he would "love to go back and make another record right away".
Most tracks don't go over the three minute mark, which seems premeditated, and it works.
As for the old fans still waiting for Bryan to write another "Kids Wanna Rock", forget about it: neither the Canadian nor anybody writes the same stuff when you´re 25 than when you´re 55, and that does not mean their current work is not up to their standards. Myself, I think he´s made the best album he could have made and he´s improved his last recordings. Let's talk about the songs:
1. You Belong To Me: The opening track was the first song written and recorded for "Get Up" and it´s the one that sets the tone for the album. When he recorded it, he felt tempted to include it in "Tracks of My Years" but he thought it had such a particular sound that he decided to write more songs in that style so that the LP had a sense of unity to it. It was a special request for a movie that wasn't finally made about a pre-Beatle era band. In this case, it's a Buddy Holly inspired rockabilly. And it´s cool!
2. Go Down Rockin': Originally written for "Tracks Of My Years", it was his answer to the record company that suggested he made a covers album, and idea he didn´t find too seductive: "If I´m gonna go down, I´m gonna go down rockin´". He didn't have a record company in the States at the time and he was finally convinced to do it. In the end, the Canadian decided not to include it in "TOMY" and saved it for this one. Awesome. The more I hear it, the more I like it.
3. We Did It All: This ballad is a clear example of an Adams-Vallance collaboration. JV wrote the verse and showed it to BA, who wrote the chorus and then they wrote the lyrics together. While the other songs were written first and then shown to the ELO man to produce them, this one was written specifically for him. Beatles arrangements and slide guitar 'a la' George Harrison for a beautiful melody.
4. That's Rock'N'Roll: Bryan did three different demos for the song but still couldn't find the right sound and it wasn't until Jeff Lynne got a hold of it that they found the right way to do it. It's an enjoyable rocker to listen to while you're driving in your car.
5. Don't Even Try: It's the other song Adams&Vallance wrote for the movie mentioned in "You Belong To Me". Carrying on with that late 50's-early 60's flavour, this one is influenced by Roy Orbison, especially in the lyrics (which reminds me that the Vancouver native covered "Running Scared" during his last tour, around the time this song was written).
The Rickenbacker riff you can hear during the song, written by Bryan and Jim, didn´t sound quite right at first and it took Jeff Lynne to work his magic and sort it out. In fact, the first time he listened to it, he told Adams he thought it sounded "like a "Rubber Soul" outtake". Great pop song.
6. Do What Ya Gotta Do: Composed by Adams & Lynne, it's the only song without Vallance. It was originally written for the "American Hustle" movie soundtrack, but left off in the end. With recognizable background vocals by the British producer, the Rickenbacker guitar rings out in all its glory. Grande Bryan! Grande Jeff! Great track. The singer says it´s likely to be the opening song in the concerts during his next tour to promote "Get Up", which he estimates will go on for the next two years.
7. Thunderbolt: Infectious rocker, it´s the closest to ELO you´ll hear on the album, thanks to Lynne's production. Love the vocals and the piano on the bridge before the guitar solo.
8. Yesterday Was Just A Dream: Nice mid-tempo tune that sounds halfway between The Beatles and Tom Petty.
9. Brand New Day: Last song on (and written for) the album. Bryan says it "fits as the last song on the record". While "You Belong To Me" set the tone for the LP, Adams considers this track the "cornerstone song" for the next tour. Great single, at times it sounds to me like a sped-up version of "Feel A Whole Lot Better" by The Byrds. Ends "Get Up" leaving you wanting more.
As a bonus, we have the acoustic versions of "Don't Even Try", "We Did it All", "You Belong To Me" and "Brand New Day". It wasn't the singer's idea to include them in the album, but the record company decided to do so. As you can see in his Vevo channel on YouTube, Adams has made videos for these four songs in which he appears by himself with his acoustic guitar performing them and giving some insight about how they were written and produced. The record company thought it would be a good idea to include them on the CD.
To sum up, it's a great record by the Canadian singer-songwriter, who leaves the door open to work again with Lynne in the future if their respective commitments allow them to do so. That would be great news for us all. Vallance will surely be on board. If they can do something like this "Get Up", it will be worth the wait.