Refrain lingers on for rocker Adams

However tiresome Bryan Adams' music might sometimes sound, his dogged belief in simplicity over style is undeniably impressive.

Tell him about the meltdown of humanity. Force-feed him with doomsday prophecies. Advise him on the artistic merits of trip-hop.

Read him harsh reviews that brand his adolescent funtime rock as passe. Lock him in a studio afterwards, and he will still produce songs that promise to 'rock with you, baby'.

Not that this has hampered his rise to mega-stardom. For 18 years, he stood his ground by championing good ol' rock'n'roll and sold 50 million records, while all around him musical waves rose and fell. And here he is, - in tried and tested tradition - with On A Day Like Today, his 11th album.

His luck, however, seems to be running out. Those who have rocked with Adams all through the years seem to be drifting off to other pastures.

While past singles and albums gatecrashed the higher echelons of music charts with ease, the taster single from the album debuted at number 13 in the British charts, and swiftly vanished from the Top 40 two weeks later.


Such figures should certainly have the 39-year-old Canadian fidgeting with unease: after all, this is the man who graced the Guinness Book of World Records with a 16-week-long stay at the top of the British charts seven years ago with the love theme to Kevin Costner's Robin Hood.

Nevertheless Adams, who has stressed time and again his indifference to charts and record sales, remains proud of his latest 13-track opus: 'From the basic principle that this album was recorded very, very raw with the band, whereas the other albums were done [from] demos and things were overdubbed,' he said from his self-built studio in Vancouver.

'So this record's very much about how we perform and I think the songs and the whole thing feels different. It feels a lot looser. But actually, I think it's going to be a very listenable album.' 'I'm 18 'til I die', sang Adams on his previous studio outing two years ago. The material from On A Day Like Today suggested probably the same thing: filled to the brim with jaunty tracks and adolescent sentiment.

'I don't want to live forever,' hollers Adams on the track with the same name. 'I just wanna go for broke/ . . . go out in a cloud of smoke'. On Cloud Number Nine, Adams muses: 'Well it's a long way up and we won't come down tonight/well it may be wrong but baby it sure feels right/so baby let's leave the world behind/and spend some time up on cloud number nine'.


If all this were not enough, Adams goes on to observe on the title track: 'On a day like today, the whole world could change. The sun's gonna shine, shine thru the rain, ya never wanna see the sun go down'.

'The song's sort of [about] hopefulness and that things can change for you, so not to give up,' Adams explained, adding: 'It's not a love song. It's a song about optimism.' Adams said he tried to find a balance between the different types of song: 'I really can't say that it's easier to write one type of song more than another. I think it's difficult to write songs, period - and especially good ones.' This album strongly exhibits much of Adams' trademark relentless gusto, but it has embraced other pop values as well. He has several accomplished writers on board this time - such as Phil Thornalley, whose CV boasts stints with The Cure and Johnny Hates Jazz, and Eliot Kennedy, writer for many a hit of the Spice Girls.


That peculiar girl-power connection does not stop behind the scenes - Melanie Chisholm, better known as Sporty Spice, duets with Adams on When You're Gone, the obvious choice for the next single release.

And, surprise, surprise: the hard-rockin' Adams even ropes in the Vancouver Orchestra for several tracks. The irony is definitely not lost on Adams.

'There are probably five songs on the album that have an orchestra on them, and that's unusual for me - because up until the last album I wouldn't have touched a string player.' Adams admitted that his world tours had exposed him to a wider spectrum of music, which in turn influenced him.


'I listen to Neil Young when I'm at home, and I listen to blues records. And sometimes if I've got friends over, we put on dance music,' he said.

'I like a lot of the new songwriters, you know, like the guy from the Verve [Richard Ashcroft].' Worry not, Adams fans: the chances of the truck-driving, jeans-wearing, craggy-faced rocker suddenly drowning in an Ashcroft-style post-ecstasy melancholy is near zero.

His past work has proved well that his priorities rest firmly on having a good time.


Let critics trash his album - Adams, in an interview with a Canadian newspaper, made it clear he does not care about 'the star-maker machinery'.

'I've had three big albums,' he was quoted as saying, 'I don't care if this album is a big hit or not.' The entertainment pages are edited by Winnie Chung. Tel: 2565 2216; Fax: 2562 2485.