- Alan Sculley For the AJC
Only on rare occasions during his career has Bryan Adams felt the kind of chemistry he encountered when he started recording songs with former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne for what eventually became his latest studio album, “Get Up.”
“It’s interesting, there have been certain times in my life when I’ve known the shoe was going to fit before I even started,” Adams said in an early February phone interview. “And they are the sort of relationships that have continued to today, with (songwriting collaborator) Jim Vallance being the biggest one, because the moment I met Jim, without even having written one note together, I knew we were going to do something together. I had no idea, of course, that we would still be doing it 40 years later. But the fact of the matter is it was a gut thing.”
The chance to work with Lynne, who has become one of rock’s most admired producers, happened casually enough for Adams.
“We sort of bumped into each other,” Adams said. “A friend of ours, a mutual friend, introduced us again. I had known Jeff since the ‘80s, but we hadn’t been in touch, so to speak.”
As the two got reacquainted, the idea of recording a song or two came about, and the working relationship among Adams, Vallance (who co-wrote all but one of the songs on “Get Up” with Adams) and Lynne grew from there after Adams showed Lynne a couple of songs he and Vallance had written for a television show pilot that never aired.
Over the next year and a half (during which time Adams was maintaining a steady touring schedule — he played Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre last spring and returns there April 16), work continued until the “Get Up” album was finished. The Internet made it convenient for the three principals in the project to exchange and develop the tracks.
“Jim (Vallance) and I would write together, and then we would send the demo (to Lynne) with my vocal and whatever instrumentation it had,” Adams said. “Then Jeff would replace some of the instrumentation we were playing, and they became my guitar and my voice and maybe the odd bit of percussion. … And bit by bit, we’d maybe meet up and maybe redo a guitar here or there or maybe redo vocal. It was pretty fascinating and quite simple to do.”
Adams is more than pleased with “Get Up,” saying it might be his favorite of his albums. It may, though, hold some surprises for longtime Adams fans, as Lynne’s musical input is very evident on many of the songs.
The rockabilly rooted “You Belong to Me” and the chunky rocker “That’s Rock and Roll” sound like they could have fit on a Traveling Wilburys album (Lynne was part of that supergroup, which also included Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and George Harrison). The lovely midtempo ballad “We Did It All” has plenty in common with the kind of Beatles-influenced melancholy that Lynne created in the latter years of ELO’s original run as a band.
But “Brand New Day” sounds like it would have been a hit single for the native of Kingston, Ontario, in Canada back in the mid-1980s, when Adams was a frequent presence on Top 40 and rock radio.
That’s when a string of albums — 1983’s “Cuts Like A Knife,” 1984’s “Reckless,” 1987’s “Into the Fire” and 1991’s “Waking Up the Neighbors” – spawned a string of hits that included “Straight From the Heart,” “Run to You,” “Summer of ‘69” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.”
Then the run of success (especially in the United States) started to fade, but Adams has continued to release albums on a regular basis and tour the world, proving that he remains a popular concert draw.
“It’s coming together pretty easily, actually,” Adams said of his new show. “Some of the weaker songs from ‘Reckless’ have been replaced by some of the stronger songs from ‘Get Up,’ so it’s actually a very strong set.”