Saturday, 7 November 2009
Bon Jovi's new single We Weren't Born To Follow has been doing the rounds on UK tv and radio this past week. It's a great thing for the fans to catch a mimed (with live vocal) performance on shows like the X Factor and the National Lottery but I think everyone who could have taken notice would have done by now; I don't think they'll be picking up many more new fans with the publicity. And that's fine by me, as a diehard fan, because I know they've found that new sound since Crush in 2000 with It's My Life and, since then, have stuck at that tried and tested recipe that they know works. I've had a week with their new album, The Circle, and have of course had it on repeat and feel I can pass opinion on it now it's had a real good listen out of it. My first observations relate to my previous comments about the song-writing recipe; I don't know if it's because of the fact that they've found the real sound that works for them or simply because after 25 years there's only so many chord progressions you can play without completely changing your style of music. But when I listened to the album for the first time there were many tracks that I thought 'that sounds like it could have been on Bounce' (2003) and 'that sounded like it should have been on Have a Nice Day' (2005) and even 'that could have come straight from [Jon's solo effort] Destination Anywhere' (1997). You pick out the familiar drum breaks, guitar solos and lyrical phrases a little too easy which I guess could be seen as a bad thing, but it's probably just what I and many others will seek comfort in hearing. The longevity of Bon Jovi's career is owed to just that; not jumping on the band wagon of what is popular at the time and simply sticking to what they know and do best, and that is why their fanbase is so loyal (OK there might be a few membership cancellations with the o2 ticket prices but that's a whole other argument).
In short, this is certainly an easy review for the critics to write about. They'll all use the same 'intimate verses and fist-pumping choruses' jargon and maybe namedrop 'Sambora solos' and relate something somehow to Tommy and Gina in Prayer and finish up by telling you to 'dust off your leather jacket and fluff up your hair' before giving it a measly 3 out of 10, but in the words of David Bryan, "We've never been the critic's darling". Personally, I certainly love what I've heard so far, and all the tracks sound strong standing up on their own; there doesn't seem to be any fillers for the sake of the dynamic journey of the album, all of the songs really are strong in their own rights. And having said that they're not really pushing the song-writing boat out, they are just enough for us to find a rare gem in When We Were Beautiful and some really nice little bursts of talkbox that still sound fresh. Overall, as a real fan I love it. If you're not a fan, it [robably won't stand out to you but you had your chance to be lured into the circle a long time ago now when It's My Life brought about a whole new generation of fans (including this one) and since Crush, the records have only ever been for the fans. It's a little too early to pitch it for 'best album' against These Days but it certainly isn't ruled out as a contender.
Talking of publicity, I did really enjoy the 2-song set they did for the Radio 1 Live Lounge, check out the videos on Youtube of We Weren't Born To Follow and Prayer acoustic.
The picture above is of my Bon Jovi tattoo that I wanted to share :)