Bryan Adams - Unplug the guitars, plug in the emotion

Mar 1, 2000 (Updated May 3, 2000)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:One of the greatest live/unplugged cd's I have ever heard

Cons:Some tracks don't work unplugged

Bryan Adams never struck me as a particularly original artist. I have all of his cd's, but they are essentially easy to listen to, with good craftsmanship and playing. His lyrics are quite good in their own way, and he has an instinct for musical genius, rather than just commercial genius (Everything I do...).

So "Unplugged" is a completely different proposition. Bryan Adams shows he's put a lot of thought into the restructuring of his songs, and the musical arrangements that he can make. Classic songs like 'Summer of 69' and 'Cuts like a Knife' are played beautifully, combining quiet instrumentation, with sudden bursts of energy, and it's hard to believe they're playing the same Spanish guitar at times. The concert also boasts an orchestral backing throughout, that really does add a lot to the sound. Another important fact is that Bryan is singing better than he's ever done in his life on this cd, with an emotion and power that his other live cd, "Live, Live, Live" simply didn't have (in fact he only really manages to croak his way through "Live Live Live").

He also chooses his songs very carefully, avoiding many of his huge hits which translate obviously to the acoustic scenario (such as 'Everything I do' and 'Have you ever really loved a woman'). Instead he plays some of his oldest and least known material, 'I'm ready' and 'Fits ya good', two of his hardest rocking songs, and tones them down into sweet acoustic melodies. 'I think about you' is turned into a fast paced country/rock song, and is also incredibly good. This is his most impressive moment to date, illustrating his musical capacity and originality.

Then comes the new material which is all top quality, including the touching 'Back to you' an absolutely brilliant song. 'When you love someone' and 'A little love' are also very good songs performed beautifully.

However, a couple of the tracks do not work 100% for all the good intentions. '18 til I die' simply doesn't work and the violin playing is jarring, and I can see very little difference between studio and acoustic versions of 'The only thing that looks good on me is you'.

But still, this is only two reservations about an absolutely top class concert. I'd just like to throw in my personal favorite from this cd, 'Heaven'. Bryan Adams has never sounded this personal in his life. Unplugged suits him.


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