1 May 2015

Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet

Ay' up, bitches!!! It's the J-Man back after an unintentional hiatus! I'm back though and will be doing more blogs. This Bon Jovi blog is just a way of getting back into the swing of things.

Bon Jovi are a hugely successful rock band, as we all know. They got there with their unique brand of radio-friendly pop-rock which rode off the back of the glam metal fad of the mid to late 80's. Anthemic songs which inspired their fans and put a smile on their face, they certainly became popular thanks to this album especially, as it had a few hit singles, which we'll talk about in a second. Their critics would deride them as nothing more than popstars pretending to be rockers and that they were overproduced unit-shifters. Kind of like an 80's Nickleback, if you will. Mind, they must have had something good going for them as they've been going for thirty-plus years. They also came from New Jersey and were the most famous thing to come from there before the "Jersey Shore" cunts ruined it for everyone.

This was one of the first rock albums I'd heard, way back when. I think that was partly due to having heard both band and album mentioned in the 1989 time travel comedy "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure". I'd loaned it from the library and it became a solid favourite of mine. The album itself is what put Bon Jovi on the road to super-stardom. Their first couple of albums were decent, but they didn't garner much attention. So when it came to recording this one, they made a couple of changes - they brought in Desmond Child as a collaborator for song-writing and aimed for a more mainstream sound. The album was pruduced by Bruce Fairbairn and mixed by Bob Rock - a man who would then go on to turn Metallica into a stadium rock band. Honestly, the sheer commercialism and polished production flows like the Hudson River through New Jersey. According to Wiki, they wrote over thirty songs and played them to local New Jersey rock fans as a means to establishing the albums track-listing! I gotta say, that's an interesting idea. With songs ranging from rockers to ballads to pop, there certainly seems to be something here to cater for all fans and casuals alike. The album was supposed to have an artwork depicting a woman in a wet t-shirt but this was vetoed in favour of the current cover.

To be fair, it does look a little crummy, even for 1986. Anyhow, onto the music...

Let It Rock - Keyboard wankery intro soon leads into a fist-banging stomper about partying. It's not the worst way to start an album, I mean, it's not a great song by any stretch but it gets the job done. It grabs your attention which is just enough at this point. Some great solos by then-guitarist Ritchie Sambora.

You Give Love A Bad Name - Detailing the story of a femme-fatale who is "a schoolboy's dream", it's not too bad, certainly anthemic enough to keep a stadium bopping away excitedly. Again, some great guitar work.

Living On A Prayer - We've ALL heard this one as it's the very definition of 'overplayed to buggery' but I'm still gonna talk about it anyway, just on the off-chance that there is, in fact, someone who has never heard it before. It's the story of Tommy and Gina, a young working-class couple going through hard times. Tommy is a dockworker who is on strike and Gina works in a diner. So money is tighter than a ducks arsehole. The song is basically telling Gina - and, by extension, the listener - to not worry, things will work out eventually. It's a message for us all. I'm trying to breathe new life into this song as, like I've said, it has been overplayed to fuck over the years! It's a good song and it's easy to understand why it's so popular. Again - it's the "anthem effect"! That's three songs in and we've already got three songs tailor-made for radio airplay. Looks like the plan came to effect. Oh, and last couple of words on this song...Tommy should have kept his guitar instead of pawning it. He could have went busking and earned a few $$$ over a longer period of time, or until the strike was called off and work resumed. Also - what exactly were they striking about???

Social Disease - About shagging. It's ok but nothing remarkable. Mind, it does contain the lyric "she's so full of high-grade octane, she can run the bullet train on 38DD's". That's fucking genius if you ask me! Aside from that, the rest of the song plods on.

Wanted Dead Or Alive - Allegedly written after listening to "Turn The Page" by Bob Seger, it's a homage to Old West heroes and rock bands - both travel from town to town, drink, fuck and be merry and people hate them. I'm sure that Billy The Kid himself would agree (BTW, his real name was Henry McCarthy so Young Guns got it wrong). This song is fucking EPIC. Ripping solo from Sambora. This is deffo one of the highlights on the album, there is not a thing wrong with this song. Perfect arrangements, vocals, everything...

Raise Your Hands - Continuing the anthemic theme, this song comes hurtling at you as soon as it starts! Possibly the fastest song on here, it's an unashamed, unabashed anthem about just doing your thing. Again, some awesome guitar-work by Sambora, Admittedly, the chorus is a bit cheesy but when you're singing along to it whilst on your way to work, you're not gonna give a fuck! This song is the perfect pick-me-up. It was also used in the movie "Spaceballs" (A spoof of sci-fi movies, most notably Star Wars) so it's a minor footnote in pop-culture.

Without Love - A twee love song which is good but after the sheer fucking epic awesomeness of the previous track, it doesn't really land. Nothing too remarkable.

I'd Die For You - Another love song which has a keyboard melody that, to me, gives the song a hint of melancholy. From the sounds of things, it's about a boyfriend who knows and admits he's less than perfect but otherwise is assuring he still loves his partner and will do pretty much anything for them. It's not too bad, to be fair.

Never Say Goodbye - Lighters in the air, everyone, it's a POWER BALLAD!!! Schmaltz was another loaded weapon in the Bon Jovi arsenal and they have a high-calibre of it in this song alone. A guy is drinking alone and reminiscing about lost love. Apparently, this song is played at most prom nights in the New Jersey area. As you can imagine, it's a slow power-ballad in the typical style of the time. I'd go as far as to say it's the third best song on the album.

Wild In The Streets - Sounding like a rewrite of 'Born To Run' by Bruce Springsteen, it's a back-in-the-day song. Pretty much like the last one, but this one is way more up-tempo. It's not too bad but I cannot see or hear anything other than something to bring about the end of the album, nothing more. Oh well...

So, all in all this is a decent album which should cater to it's intended targets - casual rock fans. Granted, it was pretty much a gateway album for myself, so you never know. The only problem I have is...it's so inoffensive, it hurts. Everything is just so twee. It rocks but there's no sense of adventure. Still, you cannot go wrong.

7/10 - This is good and well worth a check.

Top Track: Raise Your Hands.

Chris J.

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