Adams recording new album

KAREN BLISS -- Jam! Music

, Last Updated: 12:53 PM ET

TORONTO -- Though his new "Unplugged" release is barely a week old, Bryan Adams has already recorded nine songs for his next album.

Adams plans to return to the studio after he wraps up a cross-Canada tour in February, he revealed Tuesday during a round-table interview session at a Toronto hotel.

The singer-songwriter has been collaborating with Nashville songwriter Gretchen Peters and Englishman Elliot Kennedy.

"What I wanted to do, and we'll have to see, is do my Canadian tour first and then some time in March I'll go back into the studio again and start writing songs and maybe in the summertime, I was just talking about playing six of the biggest opera houses, and reproduce this (unplugged) concert with a string orchestra, but I'm not sure how serious I am."

Adams' upcoming Canadian tour will be Plugged In, as it is called, however, it will include an unplugged segment.

In town for a heavy schedule of promotion behind "Unplugged" -- the album culled from his September MTV Unplugged performance at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York's Manhattan Centre -- Adams, dressed in black sweater and pants, expertly fielded questions while perched on a colourful damask-patterned settee.

Encircled by a broad scope of journalists from music trade papers to women's lifestyle magazines,the West Coast native, now based in London,

England, with his girlfriend model/actress Cecilie Thomsen (a Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies), was amiable and open; dismissive if he felt the questions were too intrusive, political or just plain silly.

He referred to himself and controversial radio jock Howard Stern as "kindred spirits," which partly explains why Adams will appear on the clowning instigator's syndicated radio show this Thursday.

Recently, Stern offered $500 (U.S.) to anyone who could name the artist behind Adams's early disco tune, "Let Me Take You Dancing". No one claimed the prize.

"It didn't sound like me," says Adams of his very first single, when he was just a twinkle of a rocker.

Adams's sharp wit and smarts rarely come out in his lyrics. As a result, fans learn little about him by listening to his albums. "I think songwriting is little bit about fantasy," he answers, when asked if he's as romantic as his ballads suggest. "I think there are elements of what I write about that are real."

Private adventures such as ballooning or skydiving, his strict vegan lifestyle, and his social or political alliances -- like the charity concert for breast cancer being held Feb. 15 in model Linda Evangelista's hometown of St. Catharines, Ont. -- never figure into his lyrics.

Adams has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and yet critics are quick to point out when a release drums up sales of "only" 5 million. "I've been in a rut before and I guess I'll be there again," he says.

"There are people who buy records once in their life," he adds, noting the phenomenal breakthrough of 1991's Waking Up The Neighbours album and ("Everything I Do) I Do It For You", the single from the movie "Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves", which holds the record for the longest running #1 single in British music history.

Adams is more expansive when asked about the matter at hand: the Unplugged record; his choice of producer Patrick Leonard and musical director Michael Kamen (who co-wrote "Everything I Do" and "All For Love").

"It's not important," he says of the other producers he considered. "I think I made the right decision with Patrick Leonard. "(I liked) the idea of working with someone that was, first of all, song-oriented, (and) I liked that song he wrote 'Live To Tell' with Madonna."

Urged for years by MTV producers to do an unplugged concert, Adams was reluctant since "playing acoustic guitar live is not something I've ever really done." He also didn't want the album to be a simply his greatest hits, live. "I wanted it to be a little retrospective, a little obscure and a little bit about the future."

To that end, the familiar "Cuts Like A Knife" includes a mandolin intro; "18 'Til I Die" features a string quartet; "I Think About You" is a hillbilly stomp, and "Fits Ya Good" has a Middle Eastern feel. The set also boasts three new songs are also included: the new single, "Back To You", "When You Love Someone" and "A Little Love".

"Most of the arrangements you hear are pretty much what we came up with on the moment," says Adams, who, along with Leonard, brought in Irish uilleann pipe player Davy Spillane and a 16-piece orchestra from the Juilliard School of Music.

Leonard himself plays piano and organ, joining Adams' loyal band: Keith Scott (guitar, dobro, slide, mandolin); Mickey Curry (drums); Tommy Mandel (piano, organ, accordion), Dave Taylor (bass) and relative newcomer, Danny Cummings (percussion).

"There were some songs that came off better than others," says Adams, who vetoed the B-side "Hey Elvis" and "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" from both the album and MTV special.

"At the end of the show, we tried to do a bunch of retakes. The only song we ended up taking a retake of was 'A Little Love', because I kept forgetting the words and I'd never sung it live before."

Adams starts a cross-Canada tour in February. Here are the dates:

TOUR DATES:
 Feb. 7, Charlottetown Civic Centre
 Feb. 8, Halifax Metro Centre
 Feb. 9, Harbour Station, Saint John
 Feb. 10, Colisee, Quebec City
 Feb. 12, Corel Centre, Ottawa
 Feb. 13, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto
 Feb. 14, Molson Centre, Montreal
 Feb. 15, St. Catharines, venue T.B.A. in January
 Feb. 16, Winnipeg Arena
 Feb. 19, Saskatchewan Place, Saskatoon
 Feb. 20, Canadian Airlines Saddledome, Calgary
 Feb. 21, Edmonton Coliseum
 Feb. 23, Riverside Coliseum, Kamloops
 Feb. 24, Prince George Multiplex, Prince George
 Feb. 26, GM Place, Vancouver


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