BON JOVI - 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong
January 20, 2005, 17 years ago
The much-anticipated Bon Jovi box set is truly a tale of two cities. On one hand the band has given fans 38 unreleased songs (plus 12 rarities) putting it in a class by itself when compared to, for example, the Kiss or Judas Priest box sets which were nothing more than pricey glamorized greatest hits packages. On the other hand, the band has focused much of its attention on more recent (These Days, Crush, Bounce) unreleased material than the more sought-after early years (Bon Jovi, Slippery, New Jersey) material. What diehard wouldn't have preferred to hear Richie's vocals on the Slippery demo of 'Never Say Goodbye' instead of Tico's horrible 'Only In My Dreams'? The Jersey demo rockers, 'Judgment Day' and 'River Of Love' would certainly please more that the daft 'Memphis In Me' and, of course, the innuendo of the Keep The Faith demo 'Backdoor To Heaven' would have been welcomed; as would have been the never released, but played live once soundtrack song 'Cadillac Man' (written for the like-titled Robin Williams movie). For every song that made the box set, there's easily five or six still unreleased (Box Set II, perhaps?). However, one should not judge the set by what could have been, but by what is and the "what is" is very pleasing for the most part. 'Why Aren't You Dead', sounding a lot like 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead', shows the band's ability to mix humour and big hooks (while displeasing the A&R; label guy). 'We Ruled The Night', a 7800F leftover rocker is brilliant, mixing the enthusiasm of a young Jon Bon Jovi with the finest in clichÈ lyrics while 'The Radio Saved My Life Tonight' (reminiscent of 'Blood On Blood') is the perfect power-pop radio single. However, the set falters by capturing too much of the older more pensive/reflective Bon Jovi than the unbridled exuberance of the younger more shoot from the hip Bon Jovi. In all, discs one and four are must haves for any rock fan. Discs two and three are a mish-mash of great, OK and lousy songs. For those, with a little extra cash, the Japanese bonus disc featuring ten extra songs (not on the North American or Euro versions) is the best disc of all and includes the Jersey outtake 'Love Is War', and the Slippery demo 'Borderline' among others. The biggest complaint is that the set does not include much if any track info. It would have been appropriate to let fans know for which album each song was intended. Sure, in most cases it's easy to fathom a guess (based on the lyrics, style, sound, Jon's voice, etc.), but something more official would have been nice and in this day and age of illegal downloading - packaging is key. It is essential that box sets reveal as much information as possible with respect to the music, its history and the "why or why not" of making it onto an album.