Posted on March 1, 2010 -
Bon Jovi was born into the rock and roll world sometime in the year of 1984 with their self-titled album. Their second album, 7800° Fahrenheit followed, but it wasn’t until their third, Slippery When Wet, that Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Alec John Such, David Bryan and Tico Torres became a house-hold name with their catchy-yet-thought-provoking tunes about having fun, boy/girl relationships, and friendship. By the time their fourth album, New Jersey, hit the hungry public they had become one of the biggest rock acts of the 80s.The 90s arrived, proving to be a treacherous road for many of the 80s rock bands, but not so for Bon Jovi. In 1990-91, we saw the growth of both Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora with their solo projects, Blaze of Glory and Stranger In This Town during a period of uncertainty within the band. By 1992, Bon Jovi was ready to take on the world with Keep The Faith and shortly thereafter with Crossroads, their greatest hits album, leaving Bon Jovi very much on the rock and roll map. This year, in 1995, marked the departure of bassist Alec John Such and the release of their most recent effort, These Days — an album that shows a deep maturity and keen insight into a 90s world full of agitation, desperation, loss of hope and a lack of heroes.The album opens with a hard-hitting “Hey God”, which explores issues of poverty, violence and hard times in today’s world, while questioning God’s presence as these tragedies go unchecked. “Something For The Pain” begins with windchime-sounding keyboards and a forceful guitar intro. The song has a catchy feel, a harmonious chorus, and thought-provoking lyrics about needing someone or something to get you through those painful blues. Richie and Jon add a nice effect to the song by singing separate verses at the same time during the bridge. “Damned” is an all-out jam with a funky rhythm and soaring vocals by Jon, who sings about being involved with a married woman. With a crunchy beat and flavorful horns this song can only prove to be great live. “My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms” is eerie-sounding and dismal both musically and vocally, telling the torture of being hit with writer’s block. “If That’s What It Takes” provides us with a positive outlook on being there for your partner in a relationship and trusting that person, even though that trust has been broken in the past. The ballads are plentiful on this album, but they are all very unique in their own right. “This Ain’t A Love Song” is a break-up song that paints beautiful pictures lyrically, laced with engaging keyboards and R&B vocals. “Lie To Me” is a relationship song about having some hope left as long as your soul mate believes in you because, without that, there would be nothing left. Musically, it’s backed with melodic keyboards and guitars, while Richie croons softly in the background. “(It’s Hard) Letting You Go” uses picturesque lyrical prose telling a gut-wrenching story about grieving the loss of someone you love very much, backed up by a simple, yet enchanting guitar melody. “Heart’s Breaking Even” is another break-up song about calling quits on a relationship before it’s too late, providing a waltzy, soulful rhythm. The title song, “These Days” begins with an exquisite piano intro, leading into a sonorous guitar intro. The clever lyrics, sung soulfully by Jon, paints a very real picture of today’s world of lost innocence, irrevocable heroes, and dreams hard to grasp. The most depressing song of the album, “Something To Believe In” proposes a sense of hopelessness about friendships, religion, and circumstances. Backed by a tribal drum beat and tambourine, and punctuated with a series of “heys” by Richie, this song proves to be the most cynical on the album. “Diamond Ring” wraps up the album with simple, yet meaningful lyrics, wrapped around an euphonious acoustic guitar. Jon’s clear, aesthetic vocals and Richie’s backups makes this short, yet charming song complete.These Days is a wonderful, mature collaboration that is very real and insightful lyrically, while it shows off Jon’s incredible vocal abilities and the band’s unbelievable musical expertise. Despite the excellence of this album, some masterpieces have been pitifully left out. One standout, “Lonely At The Top” is another simple acoustic number about a girl’s father who committed suicide because he couldn’t deal with his fame any longer. Beautifully written and sung, it touches the heart. Another standout, “Bitter Wine” is another ballad filled with poignant piano, ethereal guitars, and tender vocals, and is lyrically bittersweet and elegant. Three other gems, “All I Want Is Everything” shows the boys can still write a kicking rock tune, “When She Comes” is mellow, yet catchy with it’s driving bass rhythm, and “The End” is whimsical and delightful. “Wedding Day”, an upbeat ballad flavored with a tad of county influence, is melodic and wistful, diplaying Jon’s intrinsically exquisite voice. One tune that I don’t particularly care for is “Prostitute” , which I find too divergent and eccentric, making it more reminiscent of Nirvana.Bon Jovi doesn’t need to prove they are a 90s band; they’ve already done so. They mix what they know with new, flavorful ideas that keep their music refreshing and always moving forward. They never regurgitate past albums, as each one sounds significantly different from the other. They continue to improve musically, lyrically, and vocally, while they remain charming performers live. What’s more, they’re even nice guys. These Days , as with their previous works, proves to be another hit.