Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
This is the record that REALLY defined Bryan Adams' music!
Robert J. Schneider | Tacoma, WA USA | 05/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bryan Adams definitely found his sound in this recording. He had experimented with some different styles on his first album, YOU WANT IT, YOU GOT IT, including New Wave (he doesn't even sound like himself on that album's "One Good Reason"). This album abandons all experimentation in favor of two predominant styles: hard rock and ballad. On CUTS LIKE A KNIFE, we do get more hard rock than anything else. I bought this on vinyl back in the summer of '83, and it has always been one of my favorite records from that period.The first track, "The Only One," is sort of a hard-pop song that is fairly forgettable (put it to you this way, when was the last time you ever heard this song, much less played it on your own?). But then things get busy: we get the wonderful "Take Me Back" which has a bluesy-keyboard tune which is slightly reminiscient of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, with some soulful screaming on Bryan's behalf. "This Time" is a straightforward hard rock/pop song which easily made the Top 40 at the time (it even sounds like a single), but is nevertheless a catchy tune with enough heartfelt singing from Bryan to ensure it never reaches bubblegum status. "Straight From The Heart" is the first of two ballads on this record, and is very good. Interestingly enough, later that same year (1983), Bonnie Tyler did a version of that song on her explosive FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF NIGHT, and while I do like her slightly harder take on the song, I think that the Bryan Adams original is more memorable.Of course, after this song we get the most memorable song on here, the wonderful title track which caused me to sing "na-NA-na-na-na-NA-na-NA" for the better part of that year! After "Cuts Like A Knife," you would expect the rest of the CD to pale by comparison, right? Wrong! The very next track is "I'm Ready" which is the greatest keyboard-hook-and-guitar-lick-laden hard rock track that Bon Jovi never recorded. Bryan Adams screams with authority "I'm ready!" and he sure sounds like he is ready...to rock us REAL good! :)The next three songs "What's It Gonna Be," "Don't Leave Me Lonely," and "Let Him Know" are all good, but not very memorable. However, just as was the case on his debut album, this record ends with another very good piano-driven ballad. This one is called "The Best Was Yet to Come." It is a heartfelt, plaintive song dealing with the breakup of a relationship that the protagonist felt was strong and would have gotten even stronger, that is, until his girl broke up with him. Having experienced this same type of thing myself, and crying myself to tears listening to this song at the time, I must say that this song hit a particularly strong chord with me. Of course, it is because of this that I have not played the song since-- it's just too depressing for me now.Overall, this is a great Bryan Adams CD that no one who likes him should ever be without! It's definitely one of his very best. :)"
A Full "Team Effort" by Adams and company
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 05/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Cuts Like a Knife" was the third studio album by Canadian Bryan Adams. This is his second in a series of four albums in a row co-produced by legendary mix expert Bob Clearmountain. Like on the previous two efforts, Jim Vallance remains his songwriting partner (for all but one song). On this collection, Bryan Adams picks right up where he left off with "You Want It, You Got It". This album has much more depth from a songwriting and musicianship standpoint than the previous album. This is the album that helped shape the "Adams Sound". Bryan Adams' albums have always great team efforts that tight collaborations between his songwriting partner and his studio band "Cuts Like a Knife" is perhaps the strongest team effort of any Adams album that was released.Bryan Adams has been fortunate to have nearly the same studio band for two decades. On "You Want It, You Got It" - keyboardist Tommy Mandel and drummer Mickey Curry were brought in. On "Cuts Like a Knife", Bryan went out and recruited Keith Scott for guitars and Dave Scott for Bass (Scott was very well known in Vancouver). Scott and Adams' guitaring combine for some incredible jamming - especially on this collection. These four band members would form the nucleus of Bryan Adams' studio band for the next 2 decades. This album features some incredible background vocals - two main background vocalists include Scott and Foreigner's Lou Gramm. Combine this with strong songwriting by the Adams/Vallance connection and Bob Clearmountain's mastery, the makings for a very strong album are clearly in play. A lot of why Adams really grew on this album are some of the contributions of Keith Scott, he was the perfect right-hand man for Adams.Another staple of the Adams/Clearmountain connection is the ability to order tracks on the albums in a near flawless fashion. Once again Adams/Clearmountain have the perfect opening track in "The Only One" and the perfect closing track "The Best is Yet to Come" (ironically a great song title to end this album with 'Reckless', 'Into The Fire', and 'Waking Up the Neighbours' in Adams' future). On "The Only One", the team effort is heard right away - Adams and Scott have some great guitar work while Taylor's bass, Mandel's Keyboards, and Curry's drumming are in fine form. You'll also hear some of the nice background vocals that really make up this album from Gramm and Scott.Want more great guitar work - "Take Me Back" is the song to hear. This song appears on the "Live Live Live" album and the that live version features Bryan starting the song "Take Me Back Keith". Although you don't hear that on this album, the song is still solid. And yes, same message as "The Only One" - full team effort. The third song "This Time" reminds me of a sequel to "Don't Look Now" - although no obvious lyrical connections they do have a similar rhythm. Other songs that really follow this Team Effort include "Straight From the Heart", "Cuts Like a Knife", "I'm Ready", and "Let Him Know". "Straight From the Heart" is the prototype for what is the classic Adams ballad. The provoking lyrics really shine here. This is the one song that wasn't co-written by Jim Vallance. On this song Eric Kagna is Adams partner, but not a beat is lost on this song. "Let Him Know" is a catchy song that often gets lost with some of the other monster songs that are on this album.This is also a solid album in terms of the liner notes. All lyrics are included along with the appropriate songwriting and studio musician credits. This is something where "You Want It, You Got It" fell very short.I'll emphasize the exceptional "Team Effort" that sets this album apart from the other Adams' releases. It is a must have for anyone building or keeping a Bryan Adams collection."
A lightweight dry run to Reckless
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 11/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Looking at the musicians involved in Bryan Adams' third album, one would expect a good calibre of rock. There's backing vocals by Lou Gramm, guitar from Keith Scott, whose ferocious playing would become more than apparent on Reckless, and percussion by Bryan Adams' songwriting partner Jim Vallance. As a result, much of the songs are lightweight compared to Reckless and Waking Up The Neighbours. The overall tone is more mid-paced, good for soundtracks, such as "The Only One"."Take Me Back" has a more slower bluesy rocking chug to it, the kind of track that would be more refined in "Heat Of The Night" from Into The Fire. However, the chorus has shades of Loverboy's early material, a rhythm like "Turn Me Loose."Then comes the three big singles. The daydreaming rocker "This Time" is the second most engaging track here, and its musical tone at times reminds me of "Running On Empty." The ballad "Straight From The Heart" was a good proving ground for Adams doing great ballads such as "Heaven" or "Do I Have To Say The Words." Bryan does piano as well as the heartfelt vocals, and yes, it pales to the power vocals and instrumentation of his other ballads, but call this a nice little ballad. This song was covered by Bonnie Tyler on Faster Than The Speed Of Night.The title track features the crunching guitar that only hints of Reckless. It's kind of leisurely but Keith Scott and Bryan Adams' guitarwork puts this above other songs here. The phrases "cuts like a knife, but it feels so right" is justified if one has done the best one could in keeping the twosome alive and failed."I'm Ready" is the most engaging rocker, with drums accompanied B-3 synth that Foreigner's "Feels Like The First Time". Titlewise and given the future, apropos. He was ready to move forward, all right.The mid-paced synth-centered "What's It Gonna Be" sounds like something Journey could've done, like "Girl Can't Help It.""Don't Leave Me Lonely", co-written by Adams, Vallance, and KISS's Eric Carr, was to have been included on Creatures Of The Night, but it wasn't used--hence its inclusion here. This mid-paced rocker would've been good for Creatures, and if it had been sung by Paul Stanley. "Separate lives and separate feelings" is all very well, but to Bryan, that's no solution."Let Him Know" as in "let him know that you love him", features backing vocals with a 60's girl-group type rhythm.Another nice little piano ballad of being unable to change things, especially a missed opportunity: "In the moment that it takes/you find you made your first mistake/like the setting sun.../you turn around, it's gone." "The Best Was Yet To Come" is a very prophetic title, considering the album next to come. Laura Branigan did this song on her self-titled effort.Yes, I know it's anachronistic to look at an album in comparison with a future album, but Cuts Like A Knife is indeed a dry run for the hard-rocking triumph of Reckless."