Jason: Good luck escaping this album or its singles in the mid-80s.
Brad: So true. A lot of these songs still get played today.
Jason: Yes, every time I go to the gym a Bon Jovi song from this album is on.
Brad: Yeah, it seems like they get played a lot in public places in general. Do you like Bon Jovi?
Jason: I don’t hate them. This album, or rather the singles from this album, really do define a certain part of my jr. high experience. It’s when I was still finding my musical tastes and this album was so incredibly popular that you had to give in to it. I was never a huge fan but I do find a lot these songs catchy and I know every single word, because how could you not? In 1986 we had FM radio and that was it. I will say that the singles are good but the non-singles are not. I never owned this album on cassette.
Brad: Yeah, I don’t particularly like Bon Jovi. I never have. But I also don’t hate them. They are in the “meh zone” for me. Somehow I managed to never listen to this full album until now. I agree with you that the singles are really good but the non-singles are somewhat bad. There is a cheesy quality to this album that makes me cringe a little. I get that it is over-the-top arena rock but still.
Jason: I thought for sure this was a staple in the Brian & Mark Watson bedroom tape player so I assumed you had heard the entire album before. I never have heard it in its entirety either and I was surprised how bad some of the non-singles are: “Social Disease” is really not a good song. Content aside it’s just…so lame. Same with “Without Love”. I mean, really? It’s just pure bland rock. At the time I considered them hard rock but now they are like… well, you know when you burn a marshmallow over a campfire and the outside is all hard and crunchy and tough but the middle is pure melted sugar? They are like that.
Brad: I totally agree! That is a good description. I just read that Aerosmith really wanted to record “Social Disease” but Bon Jovi decided to keep it all to themselves. Aerosmith should be relieved.
Jason: Yeah, that songs is super lame. But that being said some of the songs aren’t bad. How many proms in the late ’80’s had “Never Say Goodbye” as their theme? It’s probably a safe bet that if you graduated high school in 1988 and lived in a suburb that was your prom song. We even slow danced to it at 8th grade band dances even though it’s about drinking, smoking, stealing, sexing, fighting and whatever else. That song is the epitome of 80s hair power ballad that was specifically written to appeal to teens. Between that and the last song “Wild in The Streets” they are like bad reject songs from an “Eddie and the Cruisers” sequel.
Brad: That was one of our prom themes! I think it was a requirement at the time. Although, I don’t hate that song. The keyboard part at the beginning of the first song “Let it Rock” sounds like it belongs on a completely different album. It is such a strange choice for the beginning of the album.
Jason: Yes that is really weird. You hear it and think “okay, this is going to be some weird experimental shit!” Then you think “okay is the The Count from Sesame Street playing organ? No it might be a Meatloaf-style song?”. The rest of that song sounds a little like GNR-lite or Van Halen. “Let It Rock” isn’t a bad first cut but the rest of the album doesn’t hold that vibe. I could never hear “You Give Love A Bad Name” again and be fine with it but I do like the talking-guitar at the front of “Livin’ On a Prayer” [ooh-wha-ooh-wha-ooh-ooh-ooh!]
Brad: That talking guitar sound is really distinct. I think I like “You Give Love A Bad Name” more than “Living on a Prayer”. I will say that “Wanted Dead or Alive” holds up pretty well. I don’t think I liked that song at the time but I kind of like it now. Did you know that Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora’s acoustic performance of that song on the MTV VMAs was the inspiration for MTV to start the whole Unplugged phenomenon? I think that is the thing I like best about Bon Jovi.
Jason: The “Wanted Dead or Alive” video was filmed mostly at UIC Pavilion here in Chicago so that is an interesting bit of trivia as well. Are they still popular? Isn’t Jon super-wealthy now because of some slightly unethical label deals?
Brad: I did not know that about the video. That is interesting. They still fill stadiums and arenas around the world and were recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. So yeah, they are still hugely popular. And yeah, I think Jon Bon Jovi and their former manager Doc McGhee have a stake in some other bands that they helped to launch. I remember Sebastian Bach of Skid Row being pretty upset at the amount they made off of Skid Row’s success. Although, I’m not sure if that just means that Jon & Doc were better at the business side of things.
Jason: That’s probably the case. They are good business people. I am still mad that Bon Jovi is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Depeche Mode is not! Bon Jovi is to blame, they give rock a bad name.
Brad: I totally agree. I wouldn’t have put Bon Jovi in the Rock Hall just yet. What grade do you give this album?
Jason: C for Cheez Whiz because while some of it is tasty it’s still bland and bad.
Brad: I’m going to give it a C+. I don’t hate it and I understand why people like them but I never need to hear it again.
Jason: This was my very first kiss with Slippery When Wet and it’s a kiss goodbye.
Jason: PS – I used to think (and by “used to, I mean until like 3 days ago”) that in “Livin’ On A Prayer” the lyrics were “Gina wants to die of old age.” Nope.
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