Album Reviews

Bon Jovi – This Left Feels Right

(Mercury) UK release date: 3 November 2003

Bon Jovi - This Left Feels Right Perhaps inevitably for a rock band reaching nigh on 20 years in the business, Bon Jovi have decided to do an album consisting solely of re-interpretations of some of their biggest hits.

Why they’ve decided to do this can only be a matter of speculation, but this album smacks of a band wanting to be taken more seriously. While Bon Jovi’s success has been phenomenal, they’ve faired less well in critics’ circles, and stories of them using focus groups to judge their songs have only fuelled their image as a populist, rather than pioneering, rock band.

Perhaps this album is an attempt to dispel that image. You can also imagine the boredom that a band who go on worldwide tours might have with some of their songs – why not give them a makeover?

Why not indeed. The trouble with this album is that while most of the songs have been stripped back and slowed down (as is protocol with “unplugged” albums), the album is not a live performance, and so lacks the intimacy and excitement of a gig. Apparently they did play a fully acoustic gig earlier this year but weren’t happy with the recording so went to the studio to lay down the tracks instead.

The result is a hotch-potch of “remix” style re-recordings with bizarre effects added (the orchestral stabs on Wanted Dead 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’ On A Prayer and It’s My Life are not only slowed down to the band’s trademark power ballad tempo, but are so understated that the only sensation they’re likely to inspire in a listener is heavy drowsiness.

You Give Love A Bad Name is given a similar treatment to that which Eric Clapton gave to Layla on his Unplugged album. So much so in fact, that it ends up sounding exactly the same. It’s an interesting experiment, but ultimately proves how dull a world would be if everything was played acoustically.

In short, this album takes out the very ingredients of what made these Bon Jovi songs so good in the first place. There are no opportunities to throw your fist in the air shouting, “Whoa-oh!” or even play air guitar. If this album is marking a change in direction for the band, all well and good, but for goodness sake, they shouldn’t try and fix what wasn’t broke.

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Bon Jovi – This Left Feels Right