TV Dinner

Trashman channel-surfs his way into hell

Bryan Adams
On a Day Like Today
(A&M Records)

Ain't nothin' much worse than the stench associated with "workin' man" millionaire rock stars who make records under the pretense that they are still struggling, that they have cultivated a voice borne of strife that won't go away, as if their current songwriting shtick is taking them to the same levels as their blue-collar romanticism did in years prior.

Heart-friendly food specialist John Mellencamp at least adopted a kind of Lower East Side art-fag pretension to hang in his pink house. And Springsteen, he just bored the fuckin' piss out of damn near every fan he ever had, as if he thought it was important to them to know how his aging process was going, how he was getting along. Springsteen is just too vain to age with the grace of, say, a hanger of drywall, a plumber, or a trashman--the people in this life we really need.

This album finds Bryan Adams in replication mode, mixing hit-song specifications of yesteryear with counterfeit blue-collar angst, shameless riff robbery, and airy CD packaging that reeks of VH1 target marketing all the way down to the "moody" Horstesque black-and-white photos in the booklet.

"I'm a Liar" subverts "Summer of '69" by virtue of a riffy popcorn chorus with a lyric to challenge any Jovi confessional (and dig them kickin' rhymes, too): "But I just can't confess that I'm a liar/I'm a victim of desire/I'm a moth into the fire . . . I'm just walking on the wire/I couldn't get much higher." Both "C'mon, C'mon, C'mon" and "On a Day Like Today" nick Oasis crucifying the Beatles, while "Cloud Number Nine" is the Rubinoos with even less el testosteronie.

The album's token rave-up, "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," offers a blueprint of the Blossoms' "Hey Jealousy" that no doubt has Doug Hopkins (R.I.P.) snorting derisively in his grave. And the album-opening "How Do You Feel Tonight," behind all the Sheryl Crowisms, shows a certain longing in the lyric that may just be a sliver of earnestness (eegads!). Why? Because the lines suggest that perhaps Adams has had a bit of trouble sleeping of late: "We all need something new/Something that is true/And someone else to feel it to."

XX: 1977-1997
(Columbia Records)

Remember Toto? Who could forget that vivacious bunch of rock 'n' roll bad boys who ruled the airwaves for a spell more than a decade ago?

In 1977, Toto--named after Dorothy's dog--debuted with Toto, which went platinum on the strength of the dullsville single "Hold the Line." Then in 1982 the group won six Grammy Awards for Toto IV and had massive hits with more dullsville singles ("Rosanna," "Africa" and "Make Believe"). Then in 1988, Toto's bark became a whimper after a few more yaps ("Stranger in Town" and "I'll Be Over You") and rumors circulated that these session clones had descended into celebrity's dismal aftermath of unshakable coke and booze habits and breakups with star girlfriends and blah, blah, blah . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Now, years later, this collection of Toto demos (like the official releases weren't frightening enough), ignored Toto tracks and three live songs (including the empty but inevitable "Africa") from the Toto vaults is released. What are we, surprised?

Contact Bill Blake at his online address:

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