Finding this cheap at work, I texted Mike… he said it’s one of their best records. I was leery – I never liked Bed Of Roses.
Hearing it now, I knew every song – maybe I owned it before! It rocks damn sweetly, and the ballads… well, I don’t dig his ballads. Fortunately, there aren’t many here. It’s bluesy, soulful, swaggering fun and still has that Bon Jovi sheen. Knowing what came before, this is a natural next step. Cool!
This one was sent to me by our almighty Lebrain (long may he grow outrageous beards), and I was surprised to see it. I haven’t owned a Bon Jovi album proper since… These Days? And I didn’t even own all of them before that. In fact, excepting this and (for some reason) the Young Guns II soundtrack, I don’t currently own any Bon Jovi. Suffice it to say I haven’t exactly been following their career in the last forever and a day. So, back to it and let’s see what they were up to in 2002.
Undivided has an unquestionably heavy riff. I was surprised, it’s not what I expected, for some reason. They puss out a little bit (but not badly) when they get to the chorus, but it sounds more like the Jovi I remember. A solid rock song. Everyday [which I thought really briefly has the same weirdo noise in its intro as Livin’ On A Prayer (are my ears that sharp?)] is another decent rock track, well-built and ready for radio. Was this the single? I have no idea, but it could have been.
The Distance is the third big rawk riff in a row. I might have expected a ballad here… ah, wait, there it is, pulling back a bit. Fairly standard fare. The chorus lifts off, though. I hear strings (or a synth reproduction thereof). This is all a nice transition track to Joey (not a Concrete Blonde cover), a piano-based ballad that eventually gets help from the band. It’s a bit touchy-feely for my tastes, and he overdid the vocals. The again, when has he ever not? Ha. Oh, and more strings.
Misunderstood is a mid-tempo Bon Jovi pop song that didn’t quite grab me. It fits the record, it’s just not what I’d play again. Fair enough to ’em, though. All About Lovin’ You is the slow song. I’d have lost a bet that it’d be buried this deep in the track listing. They’ve done so many of these, there’s not much to say about it. Except, actually, this’d make good montage music for a film, when the guy character is gearing up to win back the girl. So, um, yay?
Hook Me Up satisfies my hope that they’d follow up the last track’s sap with something crunchy and heavy, more like the albums opening track(s). Big, anthemic, with lots of quiet spots so the loud bits hit harder. This is a concert fist-pumper. Right Side Of Wrong pulls back the energy again to another piano-based ballad. It’s too much back and forth. Oh well. I know these tracks are his bread and butter, but two in the last three tracks? It eventually builds into a bigger rawk ballad I’ll admit my attention wandered a bit, except during the guitar solo.
Love Me Back To Life is an apt title, after that last one (ouch), and the fact that we’re once again back to the crunchy riff, acoustic verse and full chorus routine. It’s got loud and quiet, the whole 90s gamut. You Had Me From Hello made me hate it by title alone, associated in my brain as that is with that stupid movie. You know the one. And it turns out to be a gentle acoustic-based track that plods along with the rest of the band briefly too. Meh.
The title track jumps back to the rock. Man, I swear, this back and forth is disorienting. Maybe that’s the point. I just Wiki’d the record and I discovered that it’s about 9/11. OK, fine. Things were confused right then, so maybe the push and pull of the track selection makes sense? Sure! Oh, and I was right about Everyday being the single. Go me! Anyway, Bounce is not a bad song, it’s obviously meant for stadiums. And finally, Open All Night is just, well, I was gonna say bad but it’s Bon Jovi. This is what he does. Slow song, terrible lyrics (“I’ve got your taste in the back of my mouth/I wanna reach in and pull it out,” for example). He really oversings these tracks. Really. Ah well, good on ’em, because people seem to love this stuff.
In sum, this was a pretty good record. Says the guy who is just going from the gut and not really knowledgeable about the band or its music anymore. I could easily do without the slow tracks… I tire of them quickly, and I don’t find myself drawn into his introspection or whatever his problem is in those. But there are quite a few decent tracks here, enough for me to say I like it. Thanks for the flashbacks, Mike!