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Review by Brad Green:
I must say I got quite a chortle from that Lenny Henry line about Tom Jones. During his entr’acte at the Queen’s Jubilee concert bash, the affable British comedian observed that Jones was “back stage gargling a mixture of Viagra and gravel”. Touche. Also on the bill was Bryan Adams, and taking Henry’s lead I’d have to presume the Canadian rocker’s choice of throat polish would be a thick suffusion of steel wool and cigar smoke, quaffed from a Tudor pewter goblet and chased down with a swig of pureed sandpaper. 

It certainly sounded that way when he came out to perform his smash hit, Everything I Do, from Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. With Adams you basically get the same diversity of colour as Henry Ford’s Model T. Except that instead of black, his voice is more like neon sienna. It comes on strong, and in its rasping way it’s full of tone and colour; just don’t expect too many shades. 

The same can be said for his songs. Good, honest rock. No frills, no gimmicks, no stretch of the imagination, but no bubble gum either. And the best of them have probably been written for films. The Robin Hood hit is a stand out, and the Spanish guitars of Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman? (for Don Juan DeMarco) remain as adventurous as the Adams’ oeuvre ever gets. The tunes aren’t quite as strong here; but they’re in the ballpark. Powerful, accurate singing and solid hooks are the upside; a lack of imagination the leveller. A duet with the sublime Sarah McLachlan is a little too contrived to add genuine variety, although her presence in any context is always a pleasure. 

As usual the guitar riffs communicate more than the words. Adams clearly graduated from the same school of lyric invention as Richard Marx and Jon Bon Jovi. The one where they hand out the dictionary for macho rockers, along with some sharp scissors and a goodly supply of glue. Still, Everything I Do is probably the worst in this regard – almost descending to the Will Jennings realm of romantic mush – yet succeeds through the music all the same. To varying degrees the same can be said of all the songs on this soundtrack. 

After the rock numbers comes yet another Zimmer score for an animation. Those bigwigs at Dreamworks know that they're onto a good thing, and they’re hanging onto it like a cowboy grasping the reins of a bolting mustang. Although Zimmer sounds like he’s going through the motions this time, he’s good enough to whisk out a selection of apropos techniques and still present something worth listening to. There’s undoubtedly the sniff of vast American plains here, and while the soaring strings and ceaseless electronic percussion are a little like Gladiatorial triumph cues watered down for kids—no tragedy, no turmoil, no nuance—there’s no shortage of intensity. It’s a big ebullient sound; and during the most stirring moments I could hardly contain myself from riding the lounge room rocking horse to freedom. 

Published June 20, 2002

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TITLE: Spirit (Stallion Of The Cimarron) ID: 493 304-2 Dreamworks SONGS BY: Bryan Adams MUSIC BY: Hans Zimmer TRACKS: 15

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