BON JOVI


"Lost Highway" (Island; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Much has been made of Bon Jovi's "Lost Highway" CD. After "Who Says You Can't Go Home," the band's mega-hit from their last CD, became the first rock track to crossover to the Country charts at #1, the rumors and hype began to fly: The band's next CD, those rumors said, was going to be a Country/Western album.

Well, not really. Although the band is obviously mining for some more of that crossover gold they scored with their previous CD, "Lost Highway" as a whole isn't that much different from their other, more recent material. 

Like most other Bon Jovi CDs, "Lost Highway" is a collection of lively rock'n'roll songs that fans of the band's previous material are going to eat up. The songs are easy to sing along with, they're laden with irresistible hooks and, unlike far too many artists today, this band sounds like they're still having fun.

My favorite song on the CD is the tongue-in-cheek party anthem "We Got It Going On," which also features country stars Big & Rich. "Summertime" is a jaunty celebration of feeling like the sunny season while the melancholy "The Last Night" is a classic Bon Jovi ballad.

The band tries to recover the magic of "Who Says You Can't Go Home" with "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore" which is a duet between Jon Bon Jovi and Leann Rimes. It's on a par with the previous hit and just might do it again for the band.

The bottom line here is ignore the marketing that tells you "Lost Highway" is Bon Jovi's "country" album and instead ask yourself how well you liked the band's last few CDs (just forget "This Left Feels Right" even exists). Chances are that, if you liked anything the band has released over the past few years, you'll like "Lost Highway" just fine.

For more information, check out http://www.bonjovi.com or http://www.backstagejbj.com


"Have a Nice Day" (Island; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

With the dynamic return to form found on "Have a Nice Day," Bon Jovi redeems themselves after the wrong turn they took with "This Left Feels Right." Returning to their rock'n'roll roots, the veteran band has delivered an energetic album that's as hook-laden as a fisherman's tackle box and yet never feels like just another tired effort to generate airplay. Instead, "Have a Nice Day" feels dynamic, fresh and genuine and that lifts it up nearly to the level of the band's earliest, most popular work.

Perfectly balanced between hard rockers ("Have a Nice Day," "Last Man Standing"), soulful ballads ("Bells of Freedom") and irresistible country-tinged ditties ("Who Says You Can't Go Home," the band's recent #1 hit with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland sharing vocals with Jon Bon Jovi), "Have a Nice Day" is a solid reminder of why this band continues to sell millions of records and fill concert arenas across the country. Their music is timeless rock'n'roll that appeals to fans of all ages, eras and (as their becoming the first rock band to score a number one record on the country charts proves) genres as well.

Of course, this record isn't what you're looking for when you need to bang your head or feel taking a spin in a mosh pit. Nor is it the kind of record you'll want to listen to when it's time for you to enter a rest home (that would be "This Left Feels Right"). Instead, "Have a Nice Day" is entertaining, engrossing and surprisingly intelligent. Again, there's a reason this band has been so successful for so long.

For more information, check out http://www.bonjovi.com or http://www.backstagejbj.com


"This Left Feels Right" (Island; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

At last! Those of you who have been waiting to hear what Bon Jovi will sound like when they're in their late 60s, playing a long-term gig in Las Vegas (or, gasp!, perhaps Branson, MO) - your prayers have been answered. "This Left Feels Right" is here.

"This Left is Right" is a collection of Bon Jovi's greatest hits, re-formatted and re-recorded to the point that sometimes they're virtually unrecognizable. To the band's credit, they didn't want to take the standard "unplugged" route; that's been done to death. Instead, they decided to release a CD that was their "greatest hits with a twist." Unfortunately, the twist is that nearly every rough edge the original tunes had is now gone. "This Left is Right" is Bon Jovi for elevators and grocery stores.

It's almost as though the band said, "Hey, the biggest selling singles from hard rock albums are always ballads. Let's re-record all of our big hits as ballads!"

The CD begins with "Wanted Dead or Alive." Although toned way down, there are at least flashes of edge here, with the guitars of Richie Sambora almost saving the day. The same cannot be said about "Livin' on a Prayer," which has become a slow-paced, soft duet with Olivia d'Abo. "Bad Medicine" is up next, sounding like one of the Beatles' flightier songs. "It's My Life" follows and is perhaps the most successful transformation on the CD, having been given an almost classical sound. Still, not much edge. 

The big hit "Lay Your Hands on Me" is next and should probably be re-titled "Clamp Your Hands Around My Neck For What I've Done to My Song." It's an acoustic ballad now with ethereal choruses that will drive you mad. "You Give Love a Bad Name" follows and has been transformed into a bluesy Stray Cats knock-off that sounds a lot like "Stray Cat Strut."

The balance of the CD is more of the same. Yawn.

Despite all the grousing above, you can't deny the talent of this veteran band, both musically and vocally. As much as I hate to admit it, Jon Bon Jovi's vocal work really shines here. 

Unfortunately, "This Left Feels Right" is the kind of stuff you might only want to listen to when you're feeling really, really, really mellow. And, if you're a regular reader of this website, that probably ain't often.

Bon Jovi: Jon Bon Jovi - vocals, backing vocals; Richie Sambora - guitars, backing vocals; David Bryan - keyboards; Tico Torres - drums, percussion; Hugh McDonald - bass.

For more information, check out http://www.bonjovi.com or http://www.backstagejbj.com


"Bounce" (Island; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Okay, I admit it. It is kinda funny to think that at one time we called Bon Jovi "heavy metal." But I'll tell you this: music may have changed since Bon Jovi were first selling-out stadiums across the country and sending waves of people to their hairdressers asking for "Bon Jovi haircuts," but the band has remained solid and has grown and matured considerably. There was evidence of this on their previous effort and there's even more on "Bounce."

Beginning with an empowering rocker about 9/11 ("Undivided"), "Bounce" delivers the trademark Bon Jovi sound in a strong and rich way. The CD has its share of stone hard rockers ("Undivided," "Everyday," "Hook Me Up," "Bounce") and sensitive, from-the-heart, slower tunes ("Joey," "All About Lovin' You"). Agreed, the band sometimes strays too far into Elton John territory for my taste ("Right Side of Wrong," "You Had Me From Hello") but they're at least smart enough to follow it up with something with a little more meat.

With "Bounce," Bon Jovi continue to pour more emotion and feeling into their music. For some, if may be a little too touchy-feely. Regardless, it's a good listen, and the band has never sounded better as a unit.

Bon Jovi is: Jon Bon Jovi; Richie Sambora; Tico Torres; David Bryan; Hugh McDonald.

For more information, visit http://www.backstagejbj.com


"Crush" (Island; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Bon Jovi take a lot of heat for the commercial slickness that invaded hard rock/heavy metal in the 80s and there may even be good reason for that. The band's good looks, their well-prepared image, and their constant appearances on MTV gave them a corporate gloss that made them easy to hate.

But, cheesy as they may have been, big hits like "You Give Love a Bad Name" were hard to resist. Yeah, they may have been as bubble gum as Topps, but they slammed themselves into your brain and stayed there.

With "Crush," Bon Jovi shows something you might never have expected from the glam boys from New Jersey and that's maturity. "Crush" shows a growth that some probably thought Bon Jovi was incapable of. It's a strong, powerful, heartfelt rock album that says a lot about how the music and how the bandmembers have changed over the years. In other words, much of that cheese and bubble gum is gone.

Just listen to "Just Older" and its lyrics, "Well, I look in the mirror; I don't hate what I see; there's a few more lines staring back at me; Now the night is growin' a little bit colder." Words from a band that's aged and accepted it and that still continues to rock'n'roll.

And, of course, the hopelessly over-played "It's My Life" (you've heard this one) is a powerhouse anthem that, like "You Give Love a Bad Name" and other Bon Jovi hits before it, has been all but decimated by too much radio airtime. Still, this one must be great when performed live and, like the previous hits, is almost impossible to resist.

Yeah, things still get a little sappy and, yeah, it's all commercial slick. But the maturity of this CD will make you sit up and take notice. If you're into teen angst, "Crush" probably won't do much for you. Likewise if your prefer Pantera to Journey. However, if you've been a fan of Bon Jovi since the days they filled stadiums across the country, "Crush" is a pretty good album and a sign that rock'n'rollers don't die, they just grow up a little.

Bon Jovi is: Jon Bon Jovi; Richie Sambora; Tico Torres; David Bryan; Hugh McDonald.

For more information, visit http://www.backstagejbj.com


"Slippery When Wet" (Mercury; 1986)

Reviewed by Snidermann

In the hierarchy of all musical forms (in this case, the hair band) even if the fashion and style sucks, something must rise above all else to create a lasting band. Bon Jovi is such a lasting band. Their music has survived their spandex style and giant hair and the band continues to make great music today. 

The simple test of time distinguishes the bad bands from the good. Even after 20+ years, Bon Jovi is still making good and viable music. 

But let's look back, shall we? Back in 1986, Bon Jovi released what would wind up being one of their biggest hits: "Slippery When Wet." This CD brought us some of the best-loved tunes of that era, with such songs as "You Give Love A Bad Name," "Livin' On A Prayer," "Wanted Dead Or Alive" and "I'd Die For You." 

Another big hit from this CD, "Livin' On a Prayer," was given new meaning when the band performed it during the Concert For New York after the events of September 11, 2001. "Livin' on a Prayer" became a rally tune, a focal point of emotion that gave everyone affected by that heinous and cowardly act comfort and hope for a positive future. 

Bon Jovi is truly a great American band and, thankfully, are still going strong today.

The band is Jon Bon Jovi vocals, Richie Sambora guitars and vocals, Dave Bryan Keyboards and vocals, Alec John Such bass and vocals, Tico Torres drums.


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 


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Copyright 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2017 09:17:44 -0400 .