It’s often said that men can’t multi-task. However, Canadian star Bryan Adams proved otherwise when he spent much of 2013 and 2014 working simultaneously on two new records: covers album Tracks Of My Years and a collection of freshly-penned original songs, Get Up, produced by ELO/Travelling Wilburys boardsman Jeff Lynne.
Adams eventually emerged with two highly covetable albums, both of which have since enhanced his reputation. Issued first, in September 2014, Tracks Of My Years featured plenty to treasure, including choice re-imaginings of standards such as Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and The Beatles’ “Any Time At All.” Yet, while Adams gave the collection his all, his priority remained completing Get Up, which became Tracks Of My Years’ follow-up after its release, on October 2, 2015.
“It came together quite organically”
“I would literally leave one studio where I was recording the covers with David Foster, and go to another studio where I was working on the new album with Jeff Lynne,” Adams said of the process in a 2015 interview with The Washington Times.
Working with Jeff Lynne had been on Adams’ bucket list. The two legendary names were introduced through a mutual friend in LA and immediately hit it off, though their working relationship remained relaxed as they pieced Get Up together.
“It came together quite organically, song by song, working with Jeff producing over the past couple of years, whenever he had time,” Adams revealed in a 2015 interview with PR Newswire. “It was a great partnership as it gave me plenty of time to write the songs, most of which are a collaboration with [long-term co-writer] Jim Vallance. We all worked primarily over the internet from Canada, Europe, and L.A., sending demos and parts of songs until we got it right.”
“I was elated”
Renowned for his sumptuous production techniques and arrangement skills, the fact that Lynne was also a talented multi-instrumentalist also provided Adams with a significant boost when it came to honing the best material for Get Up.
“Jeff did what I would imagine he does on any project he’s done,” the Canadian star told The Washington Times. “He sort of becomes a member of the band. In this case, on the majority of the tracks he produced on this album, he is the band. I had wanted to work with Jeff for a long time. When it finally happened, I was elated.”
Get Up’s lead single, “Brand New Day,” suggested Adams had every right to feel vindicated. Brash and anthemic, with a dash of “Summer Of ’69” in its wanderlust-fueled lyric (“So we fly tonight on an eastbound flight going anywhere/Driving through the night through the wind and rain took him all the way there”), the song suggested Adams was right back at his gutsy best.
Delivered with “exuberance, affection, and panache”
From there on in, Get Up lived up to its title. Adams extolled the timeless virtues of guitar, bass, and drums on the fiery “That’s Rock’n’Roll” (“A battered Vox and a beat-up Gibson/That’s all you need to get the job done”), while songs such as the itchy, Buddy Holly-esque “You Belong To Me” and the defiant, Stones-y “Go Down Rockin’” may have worn their retro influences on their sleeve, but they were laced with all the contemporary energy they needed to succeed.
Elsewhere, Lynne’s influence came to the fore on the bittersweet, Rubber Soul-esque “Don’t Even Try” and the lush, yearning “We Did It All,” while “Yesterday Was Just A Dream” distinguished itself as a widescreen ballad of quality and distinction. Seemingly a hit-in-waiting, it’s surprising that the latter wasn’t chosen as one of the album’s four spin-off singles.
Offering wall-to-wall quality and suggesting Bryan Adams was still very much in the hunt, Get Up went on to perform well on the charts, yielding Top 10 placements in numerous territories and peaking at an impressive No.2 in the UK. The record’s warm, retro-rock sound also proved a hit with the critics, with the Australian Rolling Stone dubbing the album’s best songs as “short, snappy and superb” and Britain’s Daily Mail perhaps summarizing it best when they declared, “there’s no denying Adams delivers with exuberance, affection, and panache.”