Cuts Like a Knife
In an era dominated by glitzy video-friendly pop stars and serious, issue-oriented heartland rockers, Canadian rock singer Bryan Adams managed to avoid becoming either. He was an unpretentious everyman who preferred white T-shirts and jeans and songs that spoke simply of love and its dangers with short, concise pop guitar hooks that radio could take to heart — and eventually did. At the time of 1983’s Cuts Like a Knife, Adams had released two overlooked solo albums — though his single “Lonely Nights” made a modest impression — and had been placing songs composed with songwriting partner Jim Vallance with other artists. His next album, 1984’s Reckless would break him internationally. But here with “Cuts Like a Knife,” “The Only One” and “This Time,” Adams established his solid reputation as a writer of high caliber pop. His scruffy voice adds just the right amount of dirt to the tracks (Rod Stewart-lite), and the guitar-organ mix retains an excited edge without settling into cliché (Tom Petty-lite). Adams remained a modest rocker, handy with a ballad (“Straight From the Heart”), who like, say, Steve Miller in the previous decade found the winning formula and stuck to it with unforced ease and grace.