Friday, 24 June 2011

CD Review: New Jersey, by Bon Jovi (1988)

The follow-up to the mega successful Slippery When Wet, a lot of New Jersey is much of the same. Crunchy rock anthems galore to encourage fist pumping by the guys, augmented by soulful power ballads to keep the girlfriends interested. A worrying tilt towards quantity rather than quality is noticeable, and more worrying still is the increased dabbling in uninspired country and western themes that would feature heavily in Jon Bon Jovi's future.

New Jersey reaffirms Bon Jovi's ability to write knock-out hits. When the band pulls all the elements together, the results are irresistible. Bad Medicine is as basic as rock gets, and phenomenally perfect in its simplicity. Born To Be My Baby is Bob Jovi doing what they do best, combining a metal anthem with girl-friendly lyrics to dominate both genres. And I'll Be There For You tones down the crunch and cranks up the schmaltz to great effect, slathering sentimentality and challenging all-comers to resist the torrent of emotions.

Album opener Lay Your Hands On Me is almost as perfect, kicking off with a massive, rumbling Tico Torres drum assault before Jon's soulful vocals and Sambora's guitars take centre stage and deliver another catchy hit.

The long track list means that unfortunately, there are just as many blah tracks on New Jersey, with Love For Sale missing the mark with some hill-billy nonsense, 99 In The Shade sounding like a lost track from the 1970s, made worse by a really annoying Sambora guitar squeal; and Homebound Train working it's pistons hard but failing to engage any gears.

New Jersey finds a band that is having trouble gaining traction on anything outside the established zone of comfort. When the basic formula works, it produces solid hits, and there are plenty of those to be enjoyed. But changes to the ingredients are not as successful, and are more likely than not to just emit the vapid scenery of the title state.


David Bryan - Keyboards
Richie Sambora - Guitars
Alec John Such - Bass
Tico Torres - Drums
Jon Bon Jovi - Vocals, Guitar

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Lay Your Hands On Me - 9
2. Bad Medicine - 10
3. Born To Be My Baby - 10
4. Living In Sin - 7
5. Blood On Blood - 7
6. Homebound Train - 6
7. Wild Is The Wind - 7
8. Ride Cowboy Ride - n/a (short track)
9. Stick To Your Guns - 7
10. I'll Be There For You - 10
11. 99 In The Shade - 6
12. Love For Sale - 5

Average: 7.64

Produced by Bruce Fairbairn.
Engineered and Mixed by Bob Rock. Mastered by George Marino.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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