It’s the twenty-fifth anniversary of Bryan Adams’ seventh studio album, 18 ‘Til I Die , a #1 seller in the UK and Top Five sales in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland. The international popularity was driven by hits “The Only Thing That Looks Good on You is Me”, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman”, and the title song. This point, however, was also the first indication of a bizarre syndrome peculiar to American media whereby 18 ‘Til I Die peaked on the Billboard sales chart at a perplexing #31.This strange reaction by US media gatekeepers, particularly latter twentieth century rock radio programmers, was first pointed out to me by The Edge of U2 while conversing about the band’s late Eighties road movie, Rattle and Hum . He pointed out a long-standing mistrust by music writers of such pop music idols as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley “…going off to Hollywood and never coming back.” So apparently, Bryan Adams’ sin was to include on his previous album, Waking Up the Neighbours , (packed with no less than a dozen flat-out rockers), a single ballad,”Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” that happened to run under the credits at the end of a hit chick flick that year. MTV played the video in saturation airplay because it had scenes from the blockbuster Kevin Costner film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves . Everyone benefitted from this cross-marketing, by the way: North American rock radio played six great rockers from that album on the way to record high ratings, Bryan’s record company had a #1 seller worldwide, MTV had record ratings, & the movie company broke box office ticket sales records.
But when the next Bryan Adams studio album 18 ‘Til I Die came out in June 1996, US rock radio programmers decided, in spite of the music actually on the album to the contrary, to brand Bryan a love song balladeer, not rock enough, not alternative enough, not cool enough. “And don’t confuse me with the facts, all those millions of people in all of those other countries buying it are not in my town, so we are different here in the Tri-State Area, see?” Yeah, whatever.
So then, as much to remind everyone what an enormous contributor his music had been to the preceding decade of popular music, Bryan Adams performed on MTV Unplugged , which we also discus in detail here In the Studio in this classic rock interview, including brilliant new arrangements of “Summer of ’69”, “Cuts Like a Knife”, “Heaven”, a stunning reworking of “I’m Ready“, a medley “If You Want to Be Bad You Gotta Be Good/ Let’s Make a Night to Remember“, and a song composed specifically for Unplugged, “Back to You“. –Redbeard