Bon Jovi released their first album in 1984 but it was until their legendary third album, “Slippery When Wet”, that they really experienced creative and (major) commercial success. From that point right through to Jon Bon Jovi’s fantastic second solo album in ‘97 the band, as individuals and as a group, continued to grow and evolve as artist, musicians and songwriters and always took the band into new areas and always trying ever more ambitious endeavours. Something strange happened with the bands massively successful “comeback” album “Crush” in 2000. The forward evolution stopped dead in it’s tracks. Bon Jovi went from a band that created powerful, socially conscious, ambitious and deep music to a fairly middle of the road pop-rock group. Now Crush had it’s moments but it wasn’t a true rock record. With 2002’s “Bounce” the band tried to get back to a proper rocking sound and to some extent they succeeded, and it is a good album but untimately the album along with Crush only highligted how far they had fallen from the hights of the previous decade. Reasons for this, complacency? Perhaps. A poor producer? Most probably, but what would “Have a Nice Day” bring? More of the same or would Bon Jovi return to producing the rock music they are capable of? Thankfully, I’m very happy to say that thanks to a unstopable drive to return to the top of the rock scene and employing the services of the world hottest producer John Shanks, the band have produced what is undoubtedly their best album.
TRACK BY TRACK:
The album opens with the first single, HAVE A NICE DAY. This is viciously pulsating rock anthem, that right off the bat tells us Bon Jovi are backing rocking bettter then ever. Inspired by George Bush’s re-election Jon was able to condense all his anger, bitterness and dissillusion into an incredibley optimistic meesage of hope and resilience. A great opener.
I WANNA BE LOVED is a dark and moody rocker that follows nicely on from track 1. This is without doubt the most personal song Jon has ever written. Directed at his parents, in it he reveals the emotional pain he suffered as a child, as seen in the lyric “I can forgive you/ But I wont Relive You/ I ain’t the same scared kid I used to be”. Nice to see this other side of him.
WELCOME TO WHEREVER YOU ARE slows things down slightly but this is a remarkabley beautiful song. It’s such a powerful song and I’m sure just about everyone will be able to relate to it. Good choice for a second single.
WHO SAY’S YOU CAN’T GO HOME? is an upbeat accoutically driven rock song in the vain of Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night. A devilishly simple song, it contains some fantastically clever and honest lyrics. It’s already a live favourite and not hard to see why. This might be the catchiest song they’ve ever made.
LAST MAN STANDING get’s things rocking hard again and is the best song on the album. Actually it’s quite possibly the best song the band have ever recorded. Jon wrote this one as a vehicle to express all his anger and bitterness at what the music industry has become in the last few years. Written as a tribute to Bob Dylan, this song possesses the best lyrics ever written by Jon.
BELLS OF FREEDOM follows close on the heels of Last Man Standing in terms of quality. Another song obviously inspired by the 2004 US election, this a very dark accoustic number that contain another universally positive message. “In the dark I have seen that the sun still shines on the one who believes”, sings Jon Bon Jovi. This could be the most powerful song they’ve made and is to Have a Nice Day what Something To Believe In was to These Days.
WILDFLOWER is one that has really grown on me. The lyrics are written in a very poetic way, full of metaphors and similes so obviously it takes a few listens to really appreciate it and truly evertime I hear it, it gets better and better, to the point now where it is fast becoming my favourite song. It’s as close as you’ll get to a love song on the album but certainly isn’t a traditional power-ballad. A definite highlight and is something very different then we’d be used to from Bon Jovi.
ONE LAST CIGARETTE the is without doubt one of the most unique songs that this band has made and is sure to divide fans in a ‘marmite’ way. Personally I love it. It’s got this massive pop-rock levity to it and features a fantastic guitar solo and hugely infectious chorus.
I AM is another dark and moody mid-tempo hard rocker. This is a very quintesential anthemic Bon Jovi song that could become a massive hit single. Really wouldn’t have felt out of place of the These Days album.
COMPLICATED is an ultra-modern rock song that sound like it was greatly inspired by The Killers (a band Jon really likes). This a superb song that has “Hit Single” written all over it.
NOVOCAINE is another infectious, high-octane rock song. This song is a man’s song, no doubt about. Every guy will love this one. It was inspired by one of the band members who’s going through a divorce at the moment and Jon has written a truly heartfelt rock song that contains my favourite lyric on the album. “I guess there’ll be no happy endings/ When “once upon” is doing time/ There’s a different kind of meaning now to Livin’ On a Prayer”.
The album ends with another very modern up-tempo rock song. STORY OF MY LIFE is another very honest and introspective song about Jon’s life much like he did with Just older on Crush. Highlited by the great lyrics in the chorus, “I know that no I’m not alright/ But I’ll be OK/ Cause anything can / Everything can happen / That’s the story of my life”.
On the UK edition we get 2 bonus songs. Dirtty Little Secret has me constantly scratching my head as to why this wasn’t included on the album because not only is it one of the best songs on the disc, it would undoubtedly be a massive hit single. It another slightly tounge-in-cheek rock song in the vein of You Give Love a Bad Name but much, much better. The second bonus track is a song called UNBREAKABLE and when I heard it first a couple months ago, I really liked it but following these 13 classic it’s made to look very weak. It just dosen’t have the depth or creativeness of the previous songs and dosen’t even suit the sound of the album.
“Have a Nice Day” is a treat for all the senses. Instantly likable, deeply emotional and moving and some very visual songs. This has taken one giant leap to return the band in the ever forward moving direction they were going by the end of the ninties and has surpassed my wildest expectations by actually being superior to their ‘95 album “These Days”. What I love most about it is how they’re not trying to be something they’re not. This isn’t a band trying to recreat success they had in the past, it’s a band that has just created their most modern and contemporary album to date and that surely tells you what direction this band is looking. The two big questions now are: 1) Will the longtime fans embrace this new, modern rock sound and 2) Will the record company take a chance and release a third single that highlights this new sound or stick to playing it safe by releasing one of the more classic sounding songs. Here’s hoping this album is a major success because Bon Jovi are back on the road to great things and I hope they stay on it for a long, long time.