June 2000, and after a four year sabbatical, Bon Jovi were back together and their seventh studio album, “Crush”, had just hit shelves at music stores.
The band had re-invented themselves with slick hair styles and a snappy dress sense, launching their comeback with the addictive “It’s My Life” which took singles charts by storm. The single was number one in seven countries (third place in the UK) and went platinum in six countries.
It encapsulated their return in a song of the band’s longevity and announced themselves to a new generation; my one.
Yet this album was going to be the last one to sell over 10 million copies.
September 11, 2001. The world showed a dark hand as the World Trade Center collapsed and America was rocked by tragedy. The power and emotion of this moment that shook the world was the reason the band went back into the studio to write the album- “Bounce”.
Even with energy enthused anthems like “Everyday” and power love ballads like “All About Lovin’ You”, the band couldn’t recapture that “Crush” magic. The Guardian gave it 2 out of 5 stars, and for first time in the band’s career, it only went gold in America.
The album’s reaction probably wasn’t what Jon had of hoped, but the iconic front man still recalls the tour as they sold out Hyde Park in 2003 after gaining their license to play there the previous year- grossing an incredible $5 million from that one gig.
“Have A Nice Day” seemed like a mini-revival in 2005 as mainstream house music really began to grip the younger generations and the loosely loyal fans began to get on the band’s back. The title track is one of my favourites, because of the way it was written. Jon cleverly left the interpretation of it open, and I feel this set the tone for the album.
HAND, as the album is abbreviated to by fans, always will be a part of me. In 2010 and I guess 2011, I was going through a tough time in my life and the song “Welcome to wherever you are” really reached out to me in my darkest of days. The funny thing is I could play that song to 100 people my age, and I reckon 75% would go, ‘what is this crap?’
I feel Lost Highway further proves where I’m going with this point: new Bon Jovi are an acquired taste.
Everyone loves the classics “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name”, but taking a country music route for the album “Lost Highway” was so unique that it worked.
It was fresh and different. And selfishly hides some true classics, “You Want To Make A Memory”, is so beautifully written that it feels almost fragile. “Any Other Day” is that song that everyone that relate to, regardless of who they are. The critics were positive about the album as well- which is always a bonus.
The funny thing is no one does a World Tour better than these guys. Their “Lost Highway Tour” was named by Billboard as the biggest tour of 2008, beating Springsteen and Madonna. And then they repeated the feat two years later with “The Circle Tour” which featured a 12 gig residency of the O2 Arena in London, as well as opening the New Meadowlands Stadium back home In New Jersey.
The album to accompany that tour was a different matter though. It was sold as the return to their rocking ways, and it didn’t disappoint in that respect but something just lacked from it.
It gave me one of my favourite songs ever from the band, “Superman Tonight”, but the rest- bar two to three other songs, is just something I’d put on in the background.
My faith was soon healed though with the four new additional songs to the Greatest Hits album released in 2011, and then witnessing them headline Hard Rock Calling that year in something truly indescribable. A three hour set, with three encores- still gives me goose bumps.
But here we are today and “What About Now”? Last month the band released the album’s first single “Because We Can,” and whilst playing it to a mainstream loving friend (yet open to most music), she started bobbing her head from side to side. She described it as catchy, and you know what- that’s what great about it.
Yet I was worried that it would set the tone for the album.
Their mini-gig in London streamed on BBC Radio 2 soon settled these nerves with some truly awesome tracks in “I’m With You” and “What’s Left Of Me.” There are signs of their old selves in them, like a fusion of styles, as there is definitely a feel of the “These Days” album to them.
Jon’s vision for the album is revolutionary; with the help of Augmented Reality and artist Liu Bolin he has been able to make this album so visual. Using the ideology of album artwork coming to life, a new buzz and excited has been created. It’s intriguing to say the least- like what is the next piece of the puzzle going to be.
So I ask again- “What About Now”? No radio station in the UK will overplay any of these songs to death, no night club will touch them and I can just lie there on my bed and enjoy one of my finest acquired tastes. This band isn’t dying; it’s growing and further pushing the boundaries of the rock band status.
The days of the iconic anthems are gone, and Bon Jovi remain after the dust has settled and others have fallen.
“Guide the car, you got the keys, farewell to mediocrity, kicking off the cruise-control and turning up the radio, got just enough religion and a half of tank of gas, come on!”