Perhaps inevitably for a rock band reaching nigh on20 years in the busines, Bon Jovi have decided to do an album consistingsolely of re-interpretations of some of their biggest hits.
Why they’ve decided to do this can only be a matterof speculation, but this album smacks of a band wanting to be taken moreseriously. While Bon Jovi’s success has been phenomenal, they’ve faired lesswell in critics’ circles, and stories of them using focus groups to judgetheir songs have only fuelled their image as a populist, rather thanpioneering, rock band.
Perhaps this album is an attempt to dispel thatimage. You can also imagine the boredom that a band who go on worldwidetours might have with some of their songs – why not give them amakeover?
Why not indeed. The trouble with this album is thatwhile most of the songs have been stripped back and slowed down (as isprotocol with “unplugged” albums), the album is not a live performance, andso lacks the intimacy and excitement of a gig. Apparently they did play afully acoustic gig earlier this year but weren’t happy with the recording sowent to the studio to lay down the tracks instead.
The result is a hotch-potch of “remix” stylere-recordings with bizarre effects added (the orchestral stabs on WantedDead Or Alive being one example) and ballads swathed in strings and piano(such as Bed Of Roses). Classic air-punching rock anthems such as Livin’ OnA Prayer and It’s My Life are not only slowed down to the band’s trademarkpower ballad tempo, but are so understated that the only sensation they’relikely to inspire in a listener is heavy drowsiness.
You Give Love A Bad Name is given a similar treatmentto that which Eric Clapton gave to Layla on his Unplugged album. So much so infact, that it ends up sounding exactly the same. It’s an interestingexperiment, but ultimately proves how dull a world would be if everythingwas played acoustically.
In short, this album takes out the very ingredientsof what made these Bon Jovi songs so good in the first place. There are no opportunities to throw yourfist in the air shouting, “Whoa-oh!” or even play air guitar. If this albumis marking a change in direction for the band, all well and good, but forgoodness sake, they shouldn’t try and fix what wasn’t broke.