Sweeney ToddSweeney Todd: obscure Canadian band, and the first chance at fame for Bryan Adams.  If Wishes Were Horses… Beggars Would Ride was worth the 25 cents I paid for it for the baby-faced Bryan (listed in the credits as “Bryan Guy Adams”) in a bum’s top hat and tails, on a wrap-around cover no less.  I honestly can’t recall one note of the music, or one word of the lyrics, but the cover is full of the sly innuendo that informed so many albums from the 70s: here, it’s not just a horse that beggar Bryan dreams of, but a topless female centaur with a face reminiscent of Catherine Deneuve.

This was Sweeney Todd’s second album, released in 1977.  Their first album featured the memorable single “Roxy Roller”.  Bryan Adams took over in the band for Nick Gilder, who hit it big (in Canada at least) with “Hot Child in the City” as a solo artist.  Bryan sings like a girl, his trademark rasp still two albums away, emerging in nascent form on “You Want It, You Got It”, from the album of the same name (is the coughing up a lung at the end of that song an intentional artistic statement, or a lucky accident that changed a career?).  The production, which cranks up the treble on the vocals, only accentuates teenage Bryan’s preciousness, a far cry from the more muscular rock sound that would launch him into the stratosphere of international stardom within a few short years.  I was a huge fan of Bryan Adams in the 80s, and only discovered his earlier career many years later, when I had long since drifted away from his considerable charms.

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