The most famous group of people to come out of New Jersey that aren't cast members of Jersey Shore or Bruce Springsteen are back with a new album! This was a surprise to me as I had no idea they were still going. In the past, they were well known for their chart-friendly brand of rock which while sounding a bit cheesy in the presence of more 'real' and 'happening' bands, would still leave the average person with a smile on their face. I saw them live in 2000 and it was one of the best gigs I've been to. All the hits and some songs off then-new album "Crush". Or was it "Bounce"? I can't remember. Anyway, the point is, Bon Jovi have been around for a long time and have attained much success.
This is the thirteenth studio album by Bon Jovi and is the first one without longtime guitarist Richie Sambora who left the band in 2013 - apparently, for 'personal reasons'. Given the well-documented history of substance abuse that has plagued Mr Sambora, it's possible it was so he could get sorted. I hope it works out for him. Guitar duties on this record were handled by John Shanks. Long time members Dave Bryan (Keyboards), Tico Torres (Drums) and Hugh McDonald (Bass - and is he an official member yet or still a hired gun?) also make a return.
This album is described as a 'fan album' made of songs that have been around for a bit 'unfinished, finished and new ones'. It's also the last Bon Jovi album released on Mercury Records and is a contract fulfillment. This has been a bone of contention for the B-Man as they'd been on that label for about 32 years, his entire recording life. Let's have a listen...
1) A Teardrop In The Sea - the opening reminds me of 'Zombie' by The Cranberries but without the mad Irish accent. It's a slow broody number which sounds very uncharacteristic. Reminiscent of late 90's/early 00's alt-rock when it became about tortured artists. Whoever wrote this was having a bad day at the office. It's not too bad but I'm hardly going to go out of my way to listen to it again.
2) We Don't Run - What the fuck is this? It's a thumping intro with keyboard effects. Trying to go all dramatic, it almost succeeds but not quite. Not too bad, I guess. In fact, it's very good.
3) Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning - I bet this will be the kind of melancholic crap that tries to pretend it's The Beatles when they were trying to be all deep and meaninful. Shit the bed, I was right! It also has a stupid title too. It's like saying Monday Afternoon Gave Me Monday Evening - well DU-UUUUUHHHHHH!!! That's how days work, Jon. This song is mawkish crap. Away with you.
4) We All Fall Down - Oh for fucks sake, we're onto another one. See above. Musical valium.
5) Blind Love - Jesus, Jon, what the hell happened? Did your dog die as your wife ran off with the UPS man or something? THREE slow ballads in a row which sound like funeral dirges. Granted, the youthful exuberance on 'Slippery When Wet' and 'New Jersey' was never going to be a permanent thing and we all have to grow up some time but this is just depressing. It's like the backing music to those adverts on TV which ask people to donate to charity while a gravelly-voiced actor (usually Sean Bean) narrates over a montage designed to pull at people's heartstrings. If you're into this sort of stuff then knock yourself out but I've found that usually, three slow ballad-type songs in a row kills an album stone dead. Examples include "Chinese Democracy" by Guns 'n' Roses and "Transgression" by Fear Factory.
6) Who Would You Die For? - About time we had a song of interest on here. Sounds like it could be from an avant-garde performance or something. Electronic ear-candy amid some good guitar-work. Thing is, this song is still painfully average but thanks to the shit that came before it, it makes it sound even better.
7) Fingerprints - This song has made me break out in a rash caused by severe facepalm. "I gave you my fingerprints, left them all over you, tangled up on your sheets, this heartache's the only proof". What started off with an interesting melody that reminded me of something medieval (think of 'Greensleeves' or something like that) is soon ruined by the kind of lyrics I'd write when I was 14 and thought I knew it all. Which is a shame as there is a good song under here. The music is spot on but the crap lyrics and delivery let it down. Instead of 'Fingerprints', I give this song my middle finger and a hearty 'fuck you'.
8) Life Is Beautiful - Shame this fucking song isn't. As before, we've got a song which has some interesting music but shite lyrics and delivery ruin it. Has Jon deliberately sabotaged his art in the name of art? Nah, I doubt it. But that is the impression I'm getting here...
9) I'm Your Man - Nope, not a cover of a song by Wham, which is a shame as that would have been more interesting. It sounds like something which could have been written for their 1995 album 'These Days'. It possibly was as it has been said this album mainly comprises old material. Not too bad, but as with all the other good songs here, they are merely average but only slightly elevated in stature due to being surrounded by so much shit.
10) Burning Bridges - And now we're at the bottom of the barrel. Detailing the story of the end of the deal with Mercury, it sounds like some kind of country and western singalong. Whilst I can understand how it feels to be made redundant as I've been subject to that before, as have many, many other people - the fact is that in that "thirty years of service" with Mercury Records, the band have made more money than most other people in that position and could quite happily live off of that money for the rest of their natural lives. Plus Jon had the movie career thing going for a bit which would have earned him extra wedge too. So IMO, this makes this song a joke, an utter joke. Ride that steel horse to the knackers yard please, it's time to put it out of it's misery.
This album was supposed to be 'for the fans' - in my opinion, the fans deserved a much, much better album than this. It's an absolute piss-take and a fucking travesty. Odds and sods collections are always a bit dicey due to varying quality issues but I reckon that with a bit spit and polish - or possibly scrapping altogether, the decent material on here could have been salvaged into something a bit better. Indeed, if these songs were released on the albums they were written around the time of, they'd have sank into the shadows without a trace and there wouldn't have been any shame there, but because they've been brought to the forefront, the focus is on them and quite franky, they're amateurish, sub-par and not worth it whatsoever. This album is the sound of Tommy and Gina from 'Living On A Prayer' with Alzheimer disease, pissing their last in the nursing home.
(I would just like to say that I have nothing against Bon Jovi or anyone associated with them and I acknowledge they've had a lot of success which is awesome, and that they've made millions and millions of people happy, which again is awesome. But this album is shit).
1 - You really are touching the bottom of the barrel.
Top Tune: Bloody hell, do I really have to pick one? Ok, Who Would You Die For? But I really couldn't care.
Dunno if it's on iTunes.