Waking Up The Neighbours, by Bryan Adams
If Into The Fire was the end of a road, Waking Up The Neighbours was the beginning of another road that would continue Bryan Adams as a popular rock artist for another few years. Along with Reckless, it is a commercial peak, but it is an entirely different sort of album than Reckless. Reckless, along with Into The Fire, and Adams’ earlier albums, were concept albums or at least were records with cohesive themes and approaches. That is not the case in this album and in most of Adams’ later works. Does this lack of cohesion hurt the album as a whole? It certainly did not hurt the album’s sales, as millions of copies of the album were sold and it led to several massive hits for Bryan Adams.
The album begins with “Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya?” a song about a young woman who leaves home and leaves her family home behind. “Hey Honey, I’m Packin’ You In” is a song about domestic melodrama. Of course, it’s not clear what exactly the narrator plans on doing about it, how drastic this is. “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started,” one of the album’s several big hits, is a rousing ode to the inevitability and irresistibility of love. “Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven,” a minor hit, is a lovely song about how the narrator’s intentions were changed by the love he found in a partner. “Not Guilty” is an attempt by the narrator to avoid some kind of blame or responsibility but it’s not exactly sure what kind. “Vanishing” then changes the mood again and is a thoughtful and reflective and beautiful song about what is passing and temporary and taken for granted in life. “House Arrest” seems to tell of a party that has gotten out of hand. “Do I Have To Say The Words?” is a song about feeling reluctant to apologize and express one’s feelings in the face of a troubled relationship. “There Will Never Be Another Tonight” is a rousing and energetic tune about living for today. “All I Want Is You” is a straightforward claim to a reluctant partner that the narrator only wants her. “Depend On Me” is a confident statement by the narrator that his partner can depend on him, straightforwardly enough. “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” is simply one of the biggest songs of all time, an ode to devoted love, in its full six and a half minute version. “If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?)” is a somewhat deluded song by someone who is devoted to someone who appears to be about to bolt. “Touch The Hand” is a silly and somewhat insubstantial and somewhat irreverent ode to feminism. “Don’t Drop That Bomb On Me” is a rock song about the sad state of the world.
Does the lack of cohesion in this album’s approach hurt it? If this album is not seen as a unified whole but rather as a collection of solid tracks, it works very well. If you are listening to this album, sometimes you can find the mood of one song undercutting the feelings of another. But if you view the album as something like a “Greatest Hits album,” something that Bryan Adams would release a lot more of in the coming years, then this album absolutely works, because then one is less bothered by the fact that some songs offer a view of dysfunctional relationships, some songs have silly lyrics and are appealing to a particular vibe, and other songs are clearly aimed at a devoted female audience. Bryan Adams was finding, even as early as 1991, that appealing to all the elements of his fanbase was already a difficult task, something that would become increasingly so.