This is a guest post by Daniel Ross... Enjoy!
Bon Jovi plays the hits. Thatʼs what the crowd wants and Jon, especially, gives the crowd what they want. As a die-hard fan who follows the tours, downloads bootlegs and occasionally engages the crowd over at the JoviTalk message board, this is not the Bon Jovi we love. Donʼt get me wrong, I LIKE the shows and I LIKE “Prayer,” “Wanted,” etc. but the Bon Jovi I LOVE is found in deeper album cuts that rarely, if ever, will see the light of day at their live shows.
Taking at look at each album the band has released (minus two greatest hits collections and the abomination that was “This Left Feels Right”) and four solo albums, one can find hidden gems. Below are my favorites. These arenʼt necessarily the best songs on the album (for instance “These Days” is definitely the best song from the “These Days” album, but itʼs not all that hidden to many fans). These are songs that arenʼt played live all that much (if at all) either these days.
None. “Runaway” is the only song from this album that I ever listen to. The rest is pretty Velveeta. This isnʼt a proper Bon Jovi album, in my opinion, as the band had not found its footing yet.
7800 Fahrenheit isnʼt much better than the debut album but “King Of The Mountain,” though VERY 80s, is a fun song with a great chanting chorus. This one sounds better on vinyl so you can take the way-back machine to 1985.
Slippery When Wet
“Wild In The Streets.” This one used to be played live quite often but then dropped. I fell in love with this one through the live version found on a “These Days” import single (recorded live at Wembley, 1995). Specifically, I love the intros to the solos Jon shouts out on the live cut. “Slippery” is so pervasive that there arenʼt many true deep cuts on this one.
“Stick To Your Guns.” I have a theory that this was their attempt to recreate the success of “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” For a bunch of guys from New Jersey, they can pull off the cowboy motif very well. I prefer the studio version to any (rare) version Iʼve ever heard. I also get the impression that, were Richie in charge, this one would get more play. The line “And when you pray for independence” with Jonʼs impassioned vocal and Richieʼs harmony is the best part of the song.
Keep The Faith
“Little Bit Of Soul.” A buddy of mine in high school lent me his VHS copy of “Keep The Faith: An Evening With Bon Jovi.” This is the song I latched onto immediately. Itʼs so hopeful and has always been a great pick-me-up. Pure rock nʼ roll. Love Richieʼs playing on this one.
“My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms.” The “These Days” album is my favorite. Much of it has to do with where I was in life when it came out (entering college and liking a very uncool band). However, I also think the band took more chances and stretched more as songwriters on this album than any other and the results showed. So much of me wishes theyʼd revisit this attitude. “Guitar” is a prime example of this. Dark and brooding with a huge chorus that addresses the listener with honesty. I also really dig Richieʼs fat Les Paul sound on this song (specifically the lick at 4:16).
“Next 100 Years.” Very Beatle-esque and a absolutely killer outro. Remnants of “These Days” songwriting are apparent.
None. Maybe “The Distance” but, otherwise, itʼs not a very good album. They chased the success of “Itʼs My Life” with a whole album of misfires.
Have A Nice Day
“Novocaine.” Itʼs kind of bitter and not all that happy but it has a sweet sound. Iʼve always wondered if Richieʼs marriage troubles were starting around this time. Production could be better though.
None. See “Bounce” but swap out “Whole Lotta Leavinʼ” and “Who Says...” as reasons this album isnʼt better.
“Thorn In My Side.” They really killed it live with this one (via the YouTube videos I saw) with the extended guitar-mony jam at the end. The stops make this song.
“Santa Fe” and “Itʼs Just Me” for Jon and “Father Time” and “Harlem Rain” for Richieʼs solo albums.
What are your favorite hidden gems on each album?
About the Blogger:
Daniel is the Music and Communications Minister at the Christian Church of Jasper in Jasper,
Indiana. He is the father of two girls and husband to a beautiful woman. He has been a Bon Jovi
fan since 1987 when his older sister dubbed a copy of Slippery When Wet from her friend and he would sneak into her room to listen to it. He was also a rock star in the garage of his Tennessee home playing the tennis racquet (along with his friend Jeremy) and singing “Bad Medicine” (which had been recorded by holding a tape recorder up to the radio speaker. Heʼs seen Bon Jovi live four times (3 times in Nashville - 1995, 2008 and 2010 and once in Louisville, Ky. - 2010). Daniel writes and records his own music with the band Narrow Path (www.narrowpath.us) and blogs (very occasionally) at Alien Soil (www.aliensoil.blogspot.com). You can follow him on Twitter (@jdanielross).