Feb 15

CHICANE ft BRYAN ADAMS – “Don’t Give Up”

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#851, 18th March 2000

chicane I like the brusqueness – and the ambiguity – of Bryan Adams’ feelgood advice here: “Don’t worry if the sun don’t shine / You’ve seen it before.” The problem is, we’ve heard this before too – “Don’t Give Up” is an unglamorous song about the unglamorous struggle of getting things done, set to a laborious trance backing. Perhaps there’s a virtue in effort, but this isn’t the record to sell the idea: to my ears, it’s one of the most doggedly boring number ones. If “Pure Shores” was running hand-in-hand over white sands under an azure sky, this is a pebbly trudge along Frinton seafront in overcast early March. As it trots through its subdued melody and dutiful builds, I’m left thinking Chicane wouldn’t have had a sniff at the top without the gimmick of “Don’t Give Up”’s unlikely frontman.

Adams digitally treated his vocal on this track to an extreme degree to make it sound less rock. I don’t think he quite manages it – his singing is husky anyhow, and it’s not just tone that makes the arena rocker: even in this dessicated version the chorus sounds likes its written to shout at packed stadiums, it’s just the production leeches the weight and power from it. Inadvertently, the track hits on an idea – throaty, effortful bloke singing over formula builds and drops – that we will see an awful lot of in the early 2010s. But this inadvertent futurism isn’t the result of any particular vision, just an offspring of the listless humping of two clichés.



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  1. 26
    23 Daves on 17 Feb 2015 #

    This entry has really surprised me. I’d been harbouring under the illusion for years that “When You’re Gone” actually did get to number one, and that we’d be discussing it in due course (if it hadn’t slipped by unnoticed already). Instead, we’re talking about a Bryan Adams record which I not only didn’t know climbed to the summit, but actually have no memory of whatsoever.

    Checking the date of its peak, however, it all makes sense. This marks the week of my return to London, to do an admin/ project buying job for an internet business connectivity company (a job, incidentally, I was so clueless at that I still cringe thinking about it now. I quit after five months ahead of the inevitable boot). Not only had I finally tuned away from Radio One at that point, my mind was also almost certainly almost entirely on other things, though I’m surprised the idea of a Trance record fronted by Adams didn’t at least grab my interest.

    Listening to it now, I have almost nothing to add, apart from to say that it does sound like the template for the very worst of EDM that presently dogs the mainstream. It might sound wonderful to anyone who genuinely gets a buzz out of that material, but it’s not for me.

    I have to wonder how often I’m going to be thrown by number ones in future. I started playing the online music shares game Popex (anyone remember that?) for a long while at this point, so I still watched the charts like a hawk – but there’s every chance I only heard some of the forthcoming one week number ones a few times, if indeed at all.

  2. 27
    Kinitawowi on 17 Feb 2015 #

    Listened to it all the way through five minutes ago and I can’t remember a single thing that happened outside the chorus.

    Meh. If I want random Canadians in my trance music I’ll listen to Silence. (Saw Sarah McLachlan live once in Manchester on the Afterglow tour – she did a strange version of Silence, figuring it would be the only song the British audience might know. She was wrong.)


  3. 28
    Shiny Dave on 18 Feb 2015 #

    Oh, Silence was fantastic. And I own more albums by Sarah McLachlan than any other artist, which I can directly trace to the performance by the theatre director I mentioned before (and her being a fan of McLachlan’s work generally). I’d go on to sing McLachlan’s work in a singing lesson, but it was with a different teacher (in fact, it was Afterglow lead single “Fallen” that I did – by then McLachlan’s voice was lower, and/or she was writing lower in it, than before, to the point that “Fallen” caught out my classically-trained teacher).

    This digression is far more interesting than “Don’t Give Up.”

  4. 29
    Martin F. on 18 Feb 2015 #

    I assume the groundwork for this collaboration was laid with the Chicane remix of Adams’ “Cloud #9” the previous year – in its original form, one of the ploddier and less memorable songs to bear the usually reliable Gretchen Peters seal of (co-)writing quality, but a fairly standard beat somehow lifts it into pleasingly floaty, number-6-chart-position-worthy territory.

    File this one under “Lightning Actually Strikes Twice”, then – at least chart-wise. As a song and a production, it whelms rather less.

  5. 30
    JoeWiz on 19 Feb 2015 #

    Adams lost it as early as 95’s 18 Til I Die album, a plodding and disorganised mess which took five years to produce. It did, at least, produce several hit singles for him, albeit not ones the public would really be able to recall now. I remember be severely embarrassed by ‘Lets make a night to remember’, which bore moe similarities to the aforementioned Michael Bolton.
    This was pleasant enough, but sounds woefully of its time today.
    Adams released a covers album last year, along with a remaster of ‘Reckless’.

  6. 31
    Auntie Beryl on 19 Feb 2015 #

    #30 The covers album was called “Tracks Of My Years”, wonder if Ken Bruce gets a royalty?

  7. 32
    weej on 20 Feb 2015 #

    Perfectly pleasant trance track. A listen to Saltwater confirms that it’s much better, a listen to Offshore confirms “oh, THAT one” – I’m just impressed that I’m able to give Bryan Adams, in 2000, a ‘5’.

  8. 33
    ciaran on 28 Feb 2015 #

    A Nuts ‘n’ Gum -Together At Last! type of collaboration this.

    I can understand why the detractors above wouldn’t be fond of DGU but I liked it back in the day and my enthusiasm has dipped slightly over the years it was still slightly enojyable to hear again. 6.

    The sound quality is absolutely shocking though. Like a low bit WMA file.

    Adams was already a bit old hat by now so wasn’t the type of thing that would ever become a long term classic and for me its perhaps the one thing that looked so futuristic (as dance music always appeared for me) at the time to instead feel completely dated.

  9. 34
    punctum on 5 Mar 2015 #

    During one of his many pub-closing visits to London, Adams heard a remix which Chicane – a.k.a. dance producer Nick Bracegirdle, a.k.a. Disco Citizens – had done of one of his recent rocktastic hits, “Baby Put Your Sock In My Dregs” (oh all right then, it was “On Cloud Number 9”) and fancied having a go at making a dance record. This was an apt choice for Adams, since Bracegirdle specialised in ponderously gloopy trance anthems; the previous summer had seen him in the top ten with “Saltwater,” a collaboration with Maire Brennan Out Of Clannad. “Don’t Give Up,” which not only has nothing to do with Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush but also bears a title which Adams repeatedly mis-sings as “Don’t give it up” (of course he never specifies the nature of said “it”; perhaps he meant “buying up and shutting perfectly decent pubs”), gloomily goes around the standard trance treadmill with equally predictable memes (“Every day’s an uphill climb,” “You gotta do what you wanna do,” “Sale now on at a Land of Leather store near you,” &c.). Curiously, Adams’ heavily electronically-modified vocal – when it initially appeared on white label Bracegirdle deliberately kept the singer’s identity a secret – makes the record sound more like a belated Howard Jones comeback single. It’s enough to drive anyone to drink, provided you can find a pub he hasn’t yet bought up and/or boarded up.

  10. 35
    weej on 25 Mar 2015 #

    I’ve been listening to ‘Saltwater’ quite a bit, thanks to this thread, and am wondering what other trance I missed out on at the time. Would any kind comment box people like to steer me towards a good playlist or compilation?

  11. 36
    Andrew Farrell on 25 Mar 2015 #

    You could probably do worse that the MoS to start with.

  12. 37
    Lazarus on 28 Jan 2018 #

    Now, here’s an odd thing … many of you will I’m sure be familiar with allmusic.com, a database-type site that does the same job for the music industry as imdb does for those who work in TV and film. As with imdb, you don’t have to be a star to be in their show – every also-ran and bit-part player is there – or so I thought. I often use it, pointlessly you may think, to read reviews of albums I already own, indeed often do so while listening to said album.

    And so it was today that I dug out my newly acquired copy of ‘Reckless’ (I previously owned it many years ago on cassette, but that’s long since disappeared) and typed the LP’s title into allmusic. Several albums called ‘Reckless’ came up – none of them by Adams. Curious, I thought, so I typed ‘Bryan Adams’ into the search. The nearest it would give me were the likes of Ryan Adams and Bryan Ferry. Eventually I found mention of his name, under a review of the ‘Prince of Thieves’ soundtrack, but but it wasn’t highlighted/linked as is normally the case.

    Something strange has happened here. Allmusic is an American-based site; Adams is one of the biggest solo acts from North America in the last thirty years. Either the site owners and the Groover from Vancouver have had a massive falling-out, or, thinking about the comment from Punctum above, perhaps the site has been infiltrated by CAMRA members?

  13. 38
    Lee Saunders on 28 Jan 2018 #

    #37 https://www.allmusic.com/faq/bryan-adams

  14. 39
    Lazarus on 28 Jan 2018 #

    Hmmm … thanks – so he was taken off at his own request then – that certainly raises as many questions as it answers. Why would any artist not want potential new fans to learn about their music? Perhaps he took exception to an unfavourable review.

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