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Bon Jovi – What About Now (Deluxe Edition) [Album Review]


Bon Jovi – What About Now [Deluxe Edtion]
2013, Island Records

1. “Because We Can”
2. “I’m With You”
3. “What About Now”
4. “Pictures of You”
5. “Amen”
6. “That’s What the Water Made Me”
7. “What’s Left of Me”
8. “Army of One”
9. “Thick as Thieves”
10. “Beautiful World”
11. “Room at the End of the World”
12. “The Fighter”
Bonus Tracks:
13. “With These Two Hands”
14. “Into the Echo”
15. “Not Running Anymore”

Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Hugh McDonald – Bass, backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums
David Bryan – Keyboards, Backing vocals

Producer: John Shanks, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora

So after Greatest Hits came out in 2010 with four new tracks, I had high hopes for a new Bon Jovi studio album. Yes, I know those new tracks still represented and sounded like the “mature” and less-rocked out Bon Jovi we’ve known for the last 10 years or so, but I still liked them a lot. I guess it’s sign I’m getting older myself. Cut to the release of this album’s first single, “Because We Can”. It didn’t knock me out but I thought, “okay, this is decent”. Cut to samples of this album on and it sounded like such a downer and slow moving album. Granted, I was only hearing about 30 seconds of each song but my anticipating wasn’t as great anymore.

Cut to now..? I’m LOVING What About Now. It took about 3 spins before it all started to click with me. Again, this album is really no different than Have A Nice Day, Lost Highway or The Circle. It’s all within that same realm of “hey, look at us, we write thoughtful songs with social commentary and have no interest in playing hard rock anymore, so take us seriously”. But the difference here is that Bon Jovi’s need to be on the level with U2, Coldplay and (still) Bruce Springsteen is actually working for me this time.

The band is still writing anthems that the older and presumably more mature Bon Jovi demographic can enjoy (“Because We Can”, “What About Now”, “Army of One”) while still catering to the fans they gained with surprising success of the country/acoustic-tinged Lost Highway (“What’s Left of Me”, “The Fighter”). There’s also a number of mellow moments and ballads on the album. Perhaps too many but it doesn’t change the quality of the songs themselves. “Because We Can” is probably the most upbeat song on the album and I find myself wishing there were more bombastic moments like that. It’s a great way to open the album but the energy is downhill after that.

Despite the shift in style & attitude over the last decade, Bon Jovi has always offered up at least one classic sounding Bon Jovi ballad per album. I think “Thick As Thieves” is supposed to that one song on this release and while it’s a good song, it seems to fall short just a bit of what I think they were aiming for (perhaps they should’ve enlisted the aid of Desmond Child for that one).

Speaking of songwriting credits, Richie Sambora only has four credits on the standard version of the album. I won’t get too much up in arms about it because I do like the album but I think it’s a bit sad that Jon has relegated Richie (and everyone else in the band) to the status of basically being employees instead of band-mates. In this day and age, you play and write what Jon tells you to, I guess.

The bonus tracks are really good on this deluxe edition. “With These Two Hands” is another inspirational anthem, “Into the Echo” puts the band back into their thoughtful mood and “Not Running Anymore” is a somber Jon Bon Jovi song that he wrote and played solo for the movie Stand Up Guys that’s sure to please Lost Highway/Blaze of Glory fans.

While the band’s shift from hard rock & pop-metal to an adult contemporary act has been painful, with What About Now I think they’ve made the transformation a success. Is this a classic album or even what I want to hear from Bon Jovi? No, but it’s still a very good release and easily the best thing they’ve done since 2002’s Bounce.

Highlights: “Because We Can”, “I’m With You”, “Pictures of You”, “Amen”, “What About Now”, “Thick As Thieves”, “The Fighter”, “Into the Echo”, “Not Running Anymore”

Buy the album at

Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown [Review]

Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown
(2012, Aggressive Music/Dangerbird Records)

1. Burn That Candle Down
2. Every Road Leads Home to You
3. Taking a Chance On the Wind
4. Nowadays
5. Weathering the Storm
6. Sugar Daddy
7. I’ll Always Walk Beside You
8. Seven Years Gone
9. Learning How to Fly With a Broken Wing
10. You Can Only Get So High
11. World

Richie Sambora – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Rusty Anderson – Guitar
Curt Schneider – Bass
Aaron Sterling – Drums
Luke Ebbin – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. – Keyboards
Matt Rollings – Organ, Piano

Producer: Richie Sambora & Luke Ebbin

Richie’s third solo effort but 14 years since the previous release, Richie Sambora has seen fit unleashed Aftermath of the Lowdown on the world. Probably an outlet for songs he knows Jon would never allow on a Bon Jovi album though there are a few tracks here I could see making it like the lead single “Every Road Leads Home to You”, “Learning to Fly with a Broken Wing” and the ballad “Seven Years Gone”.

The album is kind of all over the place in terms of style. “Burn That Candle Down” has a 1970s Hendrix/Deep Purple vibe to it, “Every Road Leads Home to You” is pure Bon Jovi (you can definitely hear Jon singing this one), “Taking a Chance on the Wind” is rock ‘n’ roll with some soul behind it, “Nowadays” is somewhat punky & poppy, “I’ll Always Walk Beside You” sounds like Coldplay, “World” sounds like Bowie, etc.

“Weathering the Storm” is another song that sounds similar to modern Bon Jovi. Richie even seems like he’s trying to sound like Jon so I’m assuming maybe this was written with Bon Jovi in mind. It was co-written with Bernie Taupin though, who is a long-time collaborator with Elton John.

Don’t get me wrong though, I like Jon Bon Jovi’s voice but Richie is a better singer. “Every Road Leads Home to You” and “Seven Years Gone” wouldn’t be nearly as good without Richie’s powerful, emotional soulful performances.

Even if the sounds may have been inspired by other acts, some of these songs just have to be autobiographical lyrically such as “You Can Only Get So High” and maybe even the album title itself. Richie had some alcohol issues in recent years so other than recording songs that may have not been recorded anywhere else, I’m sure this album was very cathartic for him in dealing with his alcoholism and relationship troubles.

It’s a good album and while there are some similarities to Bon Jovi with a couple of songs, there’s enough variety here and true bluesy emotion coming through Richie so that the album doesn’t come off like a bunch of unreleased Bon Jovi tracks.

Highlights: “Burn That Candle Down”, “Every Road Leads Home to You”, “I’ll Always Walk Beside You”, “Seven Years Gone”, “You Can Only Get So High”, “World”
Buy the album at

Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet

Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (1986, Mercury Records)

1. “Let It Rock” … 5:25
2. “You Give Love a Bad Name” … 3:44
3. “Livin’ on a Prayer” … 4:09
4. “Social Disease” … 4:18
5. “Wanted Dead or Alive” … 5:08
6. “Raise Your Hands” … 4:16
7. “Without Love” … 3:30
8. “I’d Die for You” … 4:30
9. “Never Say Goodbye” … 4:48
10. “Wild in the Streets” … 3:54

Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Alec John Such – Bass, Backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums
David Bryan – Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Producer: Bruce Fairbairn

Hard to believe I haven’t spoken about this ’80s classic yet! In fact, this is one of the best rock albums of all time, in my opinion. Alongside other multi-platinum ’80s hard rock monsters like Back In Black, Pyromania and Appetite for Destruction, Slippery When Wet was a game changer and has continued to influence bands up until today.

When I first got into the CD game, this was one of the first CDs I owned because Bon Jovi was one of the first bands I got into when I actually started taking an interest in music (Guns ‘N Roses & Poison were my other early faves as a teenager). Still, I have remembrances of this album when I was a kid. This was an album that you would’ve had to have been deaf to avoid in ’86/’87. MTV, radio, skating rinks, school dances, my sister’s stereo… It was all over the place!

Some of the songs have aged worse than others because of the keyboards (“Without Love”, “I’d Die For You”) but I still say every track is a classic and they’ll all have you singing along in no time. Virtually any song here could’ve been a hit if it went to radio. Slippery When Wet is to Bon Jovi what Hysteria is to Def Leppard and the 12x platinum sales in the U.S. alone prove it.

The funny thing is, it’s been said that had this album not been successful, the story goes Bon Jovi was more than likely going to be dropped by the record label because the last two albums weren’t big hits (only the self-titled debut made a ripple) and this was basically their last chance. The label told the label to work with Desmond Child as a co-writer and gave them solid but then-unknown producer Bruce Fairbairn (with engineering by a young Bob Rock) and the rest is history…

Timeless and yet still a sign of the times (this album always makes me think of the typical ’80s mall) Slippery When Wet is a pop-metal masterpiece (yes, Jon, you were once a pop-metal band) that I’ll always keep coming back to. Essential listening for ’80s rock fans.

Highlights: Um… All of them.

Buy ‘Slippery When Wet’ on

Bon Jovi – Greatest Hits – The Ultimate Collection

Bon Jovi – Greatest Hits – The Ultimate Collection (2010, Island Records)

Disc 1
1. “Livin’ on a Prayer” … 4:13
2. “You Give Love a Bad Name” … 3:46
3. “It’s My Life” … 3:46
4. “Have a Nice Day” … 3:48
5. “Wanted Dead or Alive” … 5:11
6. “Bad Medicine” … 5:16
7. “We Weren’t Born to Follow” … 4:03
8. “I’ll Be There for You” … 5:46
9. “Born to Be My Baby” … 4:40
10. “Blaze of Glory” … 5:40
11. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home (Duet With Jennifer Nettles)” … 3:50
12. “Lay Your Hands on Me” … 3:49
13. “Always” … 5:56
14. “Runaway” … 3:53
15. “What Do You Got?” … 3:47
16. “No Apologies” … 3:44

Disc 2
1. “In These Arms” … 5:19
2. “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night” … 4:39
3. “Lost Highway” … 4:04
4. “Keep the Faith” … 5:46
5. “When We Were Beautiful” … 4:10
6. “Bed of Roses” … 6:38
7. “This Ain’t a Love Song” … 5:06
8. “These Days” … 6:27
9. “(You Want To) Make a Memory” … 4:36
10. “Blood on Blood” … 6:16
11. “This Is Love, This Is Life” … 3:25
12. “The More Things Change” … 3:53

I’m a huge Bon Jovi fan. They’re one of my favorite bands, which is funny because I really can’t stand their last few albums and their shift towards country and adult contemporary rock/pop. Also, I’ve become somewhat jaded because it’s more obvious than ever that the band is really a brand and it’s completely Jon’s show to run. I think as he’s getting older, Jon has started to come off as a bitter guy for whatever reason, he denounces the ’80s hair metal scene they were fully-fledged members of at one time and he just seems to be on a power trip with only Richie having the smallest say in what the band does. To me, their last decent effort was 2002’s Bounce and with a few song exceptions, anything they’ve done since has been extremely bland and lacks the hooks and catchy choruses they built their name on in the ’80s and ’90s.

So anyway, this is the band’s fourth compilation album. Though to most fans, it’s really more like their second legit straight-forward compilation. 2003’s This Left Feels Right was an acoustic reworking of many of their best known songs and 2001 saw a Japan-only greatest hits released called Tokyo Road. The very first compilation was Cross Road. It was released in 1994 so given that the band has had a number of hit songs and albums since then, it was definitely time for another recap.

The tracklist is pretty solid. Sure there are personal favorites I could say I would have liked to seen included but keeping with the “greatest hits” theme, the album does it’s job. Especially in the Ultimate Collection form. It reads like a set list of what you would probably hear the band play in concert these days. I was caught off guard by “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night” (which was a new song included on Cross Road) and These Days getting two songs included but it’s cool because I like all three of those songs. The only studio album not represented on any of the U.S. releases is 7800° Fahrenheit (“In and Out of Love” and “Tokyo Road” appear on international versions).

There are a few different versions of this album. First there is the simply titled Greatest Hits, which is just disc one (featuring two new songs). Then there is Greatest Hits – The Ultimate Collection which features a second disc (and two more new songs). Then there’s also a Target edition of Greatest Hits which has all of disc one plus live versions of “Diamond Ring” and “We Weren’t Born to Follow”. Then the iTunes version features all the material from disc one and two plus a 5th new song called “This Is Our House”.

I definitely wanted The Ultimate Collection because all four new songs were slowly being released on the band’s website for streaming and I liked them all a lot. Someone pointed out to me that they all sounded like modern Bon Jovi (which we’ve already covered I don’t like) and I guess they are right. Maybe I’m just ready to like Bon Jovi again? Who knows! “What Do You Got?” is my favorite of the new songs but I think they’re all good. Maybe not songs that can compare to their classics but very good for modern day Bon Jovi, I think. So I’m happy with my purchase. I’m enjoying the new stuff and while I don’t usually bother listening to compilations these days, you really can’t go wrong with a collection of Bon Jovi’s greatest hits.

BON JOVI – The Circle

Bon Jovi – The Circle [Deluxe CD/DVD Limited Edition] (2009, Island Records)

1. “We Weren’t Born to Follow” … 4:03
2. “When We Were Beautiful” … 5:18
3. “Work for the Working Man” … 4:03
4. “Superman Tonight” … 5:12
5. “Bullet” … 3:50
6. “Thorn In My Side” … 4:05
7. “Live Before You Die” …  4:18
8. “Brokenpromiseland” … 4:57
9. “Love’s the Only Rule” … 4:38
10. “Fast Cars” … 3:16
11. “Happy Now” … 4:21
12. “Learn to Love” … 4:39

When We Were Beautiful – Documentary

Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums, Percussion
David Bryan – Keyboards, Piano

Additional Musicians:
Hugh McDonald – Bass
Charlie Judge – Keyboards

Producer: John Shanks with Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora

It’s hard to believe after only releasing two albums in the 1990s that Bon Jovi is now on their fifth studio release in the 2000s alone (The Circle is actually their sixth studio release if you want to count their acoustic reworkings of their own songs on This Left Feels Right). And I haven’t even mentioned the live album and box set they released this decade! So yes, the band has been extremely active this decade with a steady stream of albums and world tours that sell out wherever they go.

The downside to all of this? Their music overall hasn’t been up to snuff with their ’80s or even ’90s output. Their “comeback” album Crush was great, different but great. Bounce rocked harder and was really good. After that, the band has turned into a bland rock band that doesn’t really rock at all and they’ve dabbled way too much in country rock in an attempt to stay relevant (but it worked for a bit, so what do I know?).

In hype for this album, Jon and Richie promised they were done with Nashville and that the album’s title was a reference to the band coming full circle and getting back to rock ‘n’ roll and that they were giving us a “big rock record”. Well, I can tell you this much — thankfully, most signs of Lost Highway are gone (perhaps lost?). I wouldn’t say this album is “big rock” at all, but it is a better effort than Have a Nice Day even if it still sounds similar to that release. I had been hoping this would be closer to Bounce (“Bullet” comes close), but no dice.

I realize that the band is laughing all the way to the bank with the steady stream of bland, safe rock ‘n’ roll made for their soccer mom fans, but I really wish these guys would pay attention to the minority of fans that want a harder edge and huge sing-along choruses. I don’t expect a sequel to Slippery When Wet or New Jersey (though the band does offer up the bass line from “Livin’ On A Prayer” for “Work for the Working Man”), I don’t want a nostalgia release, but throw me a few bones! Give me a couple of songs that have that feel good over the top vibe that band had up until Keep the Faith.

Noticeably absent is the classic Bon Jovi sounding ballad that doesn’t care what decade it is. Even on the awful Lost Highway the band managed to squeeze out the under appreciated “(You Want to) Make a Memory”. Desmond Child co-wrote that song and he helps out a bit on this album, but even his involvement can’t save this album.

Ultimately, The Circle is another collection of mediocre, thoughtful and mature rock songs (Just like U2!) that don’t please this old school Bon Jovi fan and I can’t imagine reaching for this album in the future.

The CD/DVD limited edition comes with the 75 minute B&W documentary When We Were Beautiful, which follows the band on their Lost Highway tour from 2007. It’s a pretty interesting look into the workings of the band.

Highlights: “We Weren’t Born to Follow”, “Work for the Working Man”, “Bullet”, “Brokenpromiseland”, “Happy Now”

BON JOVI – Keep the Faith

Bon Jovi – Keep the Faith (1992, Mercury Records)

1. “I Believe” … 5:58
2. “Keep the Faith” … 5:46
3. “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” … 4:43
4. “In These Arms” … 5:19
5. “Bed of Roses” … 6:34
6. “If I Was Your Mother” … 4:27
7. “Dry County” … 9:52
8. “Woman in Love” … 3:48
9. “Fear” … 3:06
10. “I Want You” … 5:46
11. “Blame it on the Love of Rock and Roll” … 4:24
12. “Little Bit of Soul” … 5:44

Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitar, Percussion
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Alec John Such – Bass, Backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums, Percussion
David Bryan – Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Producer: Bob “Let’s Not” Rock

Four years after the band peaked with New Jersey, here comes the slide into mediocrity (which would be fully explored in the 2000s). This album is a mixed bag (the first half is good, most of the rest is filler), but it signaled a somber, more mature sound that would be taken even further with These Days from 1995. In general, Keep the Faith shows the band’s decision to rock a little less and age into an adult contemporary rock act.

Filler starts popping up with “If I Was Your Mother”, but the excellent & epic “Dry County” (Bon Jovi going the Springsteen/Mellencamp route) and “I Want You” (a power ballad that would sound right at home on Slippery When Wet or New Jersey) and worth skipping too. Outside of those two songs, the second half of this album features some of my least favorite Bon Jovi songs.

The odd thing is, the album overall shows the band getting softer and slower, but “If I Was Your Mother” and “Fear” are two of the heaviest songs the band has ever done. Perhaps they were trying to compensate for the rest of the album?

Highlights: “I Believe”, “Keep the Faith”, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”, “In These Arms”, “Bed of Roses”, “Dry County”, “I Want You”

BON JOVI – Have a Nice Day

Bon Jovi – Have a Nice Day (2005, Island Records)

1. “Have a Nice Day” … 3:49
2. “I Want to Be Loved” … 3:49
3. “Welcome to Wherever You Are” … 3:47
4. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” … 4:40
5. “Last Man Standing” … 4:37
6. “Bells of Freedom” … 4:55
7. “Wildflower” … 4:13
8. “Last Cigarette” … 3:38
9. “I Am” … 3:53
10. “Complicated” … 3:37
11. “Novocaine” … 4:49
12. “Story of My Life” … 4:08
13. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” [Duet Version] … 3:50

Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums, Percussion
David Bryan – Piano, Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Hugh McDonald – Bass, Backing Vocals
Jennifer Nettles – Lead Vocals (“Who Says You Can’t Go Home” [Duet Version])
Dan Huff – Bouzouki, Mandolin
Johathan Yudkin – Fiddle, Mandolin
Dan Dugmore – Steel Guitar

Produced by: Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, John Shanks, Dan Huff, Rick Parashar

I absolutely did NOT like this album when it was released and it quickly was thrown in with the rest of my collection and forgotten. There’s a few songs on here I like, but this album is Bon Jovi’s full-blown descent into mediocrity, soccer mom rock and the land of no hooks. The signs were starting to show on Bounce that the band was becoming content to just be bland, but it’s even more apparent here.

Unfortunately, the album spawned the big crossover hit “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” featuring country music group Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles. Whether you’re listening to the duet version or not, they’re both pretty country sounding and neither one is good. Sure, if this song was a blip on the Bon Jovi radar, that’s one thing, but I said it was an unfortunate hit because it “inspired” (meaning Jon & Richie saw dollar signs) the band to follow up this album with the Nashville-flavored Lost Highway.

“Last Man Standing” is probably the closest song resembling the band’s harder rocking heyday and a version of it was included on the band’s 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong box set. The song was originally meant to be included as one of two new songs on the band’s This Left Feels Right acoustic album where they covered some of their own greatest hits.

Even long time collaborator Desmond Child could help this album much. He co-wrote “Bells of Freedom” with Jon & Richie (and was executive producer of the album) but the magic just wasn’t there this time.

Highlights: “Have a Nice Day”, “I Want to Be Loved”, “Last Man Standing”, “Complicated”

BON JOVI – One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001

Bon Jovi – One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001 (2001, Island Records)

1. “It’s My Life” … 3:51
2. “Livin’ on a Prayer” … 5:13
3. “You Give Love a Bad Name” … 3:53
4. “Keep the Faith” … 6:19
5. “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night” … 6:30
6. “Rockin’ in the Free World” … 5:40
7. “Something to Believe In” … 6:00
8. “Wanted Dead or Alive” … 6:00
9. “Runaway” … 4:47
10. “In and Out of Love” … 6:12
11. “I Don’t Like Mondays” … 5:58
12. “Just Older” … 5:13
13. “Something for the Pain” … 4:22
14. “Bad Medicine” … 4:19
15. “One Wild Night 2001” … 3:46

Jon Bon Jovi – Vocals, Guitar, Percussion
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Bryan – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Alec John Such – Bass, Backing Vocals (“Runaway” and “In and Out of Love”)
Hugh McDonald – Bass, Backing Vocals
Bob Geldof – Vocals (“I Don’t Like Mondays”)

Produced by: Obie O’Brien, Bon Jovi, Luke Ebbin, Desmond Child

Although I’ve yet to see Bon Jovi in person, I’ve seen tons of live Bon Jovi performances over the years on television and video. They’ve always delivered and this, their first live album, is no different with “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night” being an especially inspired performance. I usually don’t give live albums extended play, but this is one of the few live release I have in my collection that I did just that. You can never go wrong with Bon Jovi (when they’re singing the classics).

Seven of the fifteen tracks were recorded in 2000, four are from 1995, “Something to Believe In” is from ’96 and only “In and Out of Love” and “Runaway” are from 1985. I think it’s very strange they didn’t include any performances from their commercial peak (’87-’92) and I would have preferred most of the songs to be from that era. They probably included so many then-recent performances to show people it was still worth coming out to their shows in 2001. Only two of these songs were recorded in the US, which I find weird as well.

“One Wild Night 2001” is a needless remix of, you guessed it, “One Wild Night” from Crush the previous year. Fine for what it is (one of the hardest rocking songs from Crush), but it’s neither better or worse than the original.

Highlights: “It’s My Life”, “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night”, “Runaway”, “I Don’t LIke Mondays”, “Something for the Pain”, “Bad Medicine”

Buy One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001 at

BON JOVI – 7800° Fahrenheit

Bon Jovi – 7800° Fahrenheit (1985, Mercury Records)

Track List:
1. “In and Out of Love” … 4:26
2. “The Price of Love” … 4:14
3. “Only Lonely” … 5:02
4. “King of the Mountain” … 3:54
5. “Silent Night” … 5:08
6. “Tokyo Road” … 5:42
7. “The Hardest Part Is the Night” … 4:25
8. “Always Run to You” … 5:00
9. “(I Don’t Wanna Fall) To the Fire” … 4:28
10. “Secret Dreams” … 4:54

Jon Bon Jovi – Vocals
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Alec John Such – Bass, Backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums
David Bryan – Keyboard, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Tom Mandel, Jim Salamone, and Randy Cantor – Synthesizer
Carol Brooks, Jeannie Brooks, Rick Valenti, and Phil Hoffer – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Lance Quinn

Total keyboard-heavy 1980s cheesefest. David Bryan really shined on this album. =)

This album is so much of a guilty pleasure. The songs are catchy, but you’re almost embarrassed to be singing along because they’re so bad they’re good. The band had yet to hook up with master rock/pop songwriter Desmond Child and had they not done that in time for 1986’s Slippery When Wet, I imagine one more album of this kind of somewhat generic keyboard-based hair metal and all members of Bon Jovi would’ve been back in Jersey working 9-5 factory jobs. I can’t help but imagine these songs as part of a music montage during some 80s movie.

“In and Out of Love” is the closest to what Slippery When Wet would bring (it also made it onto the band’s Cross Road greates hits release), but it’s easy to see why the rest has been forgotten over the years. I still like the album, but it’s definitely not the first album I would recommend to any potential Bon Jovi fan.

In fact, this album and the self-titled debut were actually the final Bon Jovi albums I purchased back around 2000 or so in order to complete my Bon Jovi collection. I picked’em up during one of my many great Columbia House raids for just a few dollars a piece.

Highlights: “In and Out of Love”, “The Price of Love”, “The Hardest Part Is the Night”, “(I Don’t Wanna Fall) To the Fire”, “Secret Dreams”

BON JOVI – Crush

Bon Jovi – Crush (2000, Island Records/Def Jam Music)

Track Listing:
1. “It’s My Life” … 3:44
2. “Say It Isn’t So” … 3:33
3. “Thank You for Loving Me” … 5:07
4. “Two Story Town” … 5:10
5. “Next 100 Years” … 6:19
6. “Just Older” … 4:28
7. “Mystery Train” … 5:16
8. “Save the World” … 5:31
9. “Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars” … 4:31
10. “She’s a Mystery” … 5:18
11. “I Got the Girl” … 4:35
12. “One Wild Night” … 4:18

Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums, Percussion
David Bryan – Keyboard, Piano, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Hugh McDonald – Bass, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Luke Ebbin, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora

5 years after the dark, somber, melancholy These Days, Bon Jovi decided it was time to make music again and went in the complete opposite direction with the very bombastic, poppy, syrupy Crush.

Not that I’m complaining. I love both albums, but while These Days took some getting used to, I instantly embraced Crush because it’s not too far removed from the usual bombastic, poppy, syrupy sounds of Bon Jovi. The only difference is the band brought in “boy band” songwriter Max Martin (“It’s My Life”) but also balanced it out with a bit more of a mature sound (“She’s A Mystery”, “Just Older”, “Save the World”).

It’s not a hard rocking album for the most part (Bounce actually rocks harder than this),  it’s very much a pop album, but I still love it. “It’s My Life” though somewhat boy bandish is an incredibly catchy song and I loved that in 2000 I was hearing brand new Bon Jovi on the radio. All three singles (the other two being “Say It Isn’t So” and “Thank You For Loving Me”) are my favorite songs from the album, but the slower moments like “Mystery Train” and “She’s A Mystery” are really enjoyable too.

Probably my only complaint with be the lack of originality. I remember an old review stating that “Say It Isn’t So” and “Two Story Town” ripped off Lit and Joan Osbourne, respectively, and it’s absolutely true. “Two Story Town” seems to be such a near carbon copy of “What If God Was One of Us” that I’m surprised Joan didn’t sue. Also, their use of two “Mystery” songs has always bothered me (even though I love both songs), just like GNR’s “The Garden” and “The Garden of Eden” on Use Your Illusion I, it’s always annoyed me.

The album has a great closer with “One Wild Night” which is the one song that reminds me most of the Bon Jovi of the 80s. This song could’ve easily been on New Jersey right alongside “99 in the Shade” and “Love For Sale”.

Highlights: “It’s My Life”, “Say It Isn’t So”, “Thank You For Loving Me”, “Just Older”, “Mystery Train”, “Save the World”, “She’s a Mystery”, “One Wild Night”

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