New Classic Rock Debate: Bon Jovi – Should We Care?
Should anyone in the rock world actually bother with Bon Jovi anymore?
Have they moved so far beyond our horizons that there’s as much rock conviction in their blood as there’s air in a vacuum?
Once again, Classic Rock gives both sides of the argument.
Today, Malcolm Dome gives his reasons why we should still bother with Bon Jovi. Tomorrow, Dave Ling takes the opposite view. So, take it away, Malc… and try to convince us that Jovi are still Runaway rockers.
Have you noticed how many ‘former’ Bon Jovi fans have been getting irate over Jon’s appearance recently on The X Factor? A lot of those who claim they don’t care about the band anymore have been working themselves into a right old lather.
You have to ask yourself why they appear to be so angry. If you’ve given up on Jovi as a credible rock force, what is your problem? Just shrug your shoulders, walk away and leave it alone. But the reality is that most people who loved Bon Jovi even into the early 1990s, but now find them no more than stadium pop bores, actually want to be proven wrong. They are still rooting for Jon and the lads to come riding through with another glorious record, one to rival Slippery When Wet or New Jersey.
I was probably among the last to finally lose patience with Bon Jovi. I would defend every album, because there was nothing wrong with the band taking different turns, trying fresh ideas. But, after seeing them at Twickenham Stadium last year… sheesh, it really was vacuous, showbiz nonsense. Jon’s sincerity was about as believable as Cristiano Ronaldo clutching his head after being tapped on the ankle. The band appeared to have been reduced to a secondary role, as the singer’s backing musicians, and the set was aimed at the 40-something housewives, those who used to scream through their knickers in 1986 and are still doing so. The mighty rock band I once knew and loved were gone… but forever?
All of that sounds like I don’t actually have any interest. Yet I still do. I’ve played new album The Circle and it isn’t all that bad. By no means a classic, but the band’s rock sensibility still whispers. It should be a roar, but it hasn’t totally gone. To claim Jovi are victims of their own intentions might be too naive, although…well, they are.
Everyone recognises Richie Sambora as a true guitar giant. Tico Torres, when given the freedom, is as heavy a drummer as any, and David Bryan is an inventive keyboard player. The problem is that, since the band reconvened in 1991 after a brief hiatus, to decide whether there was any sort of a future for the collective, they’ve drifted ever further away from their rock roots. I doubt it’s been a conscious decision on either side, but the band and their diehard audience of old got divorced because neither had the will to carry on the relationship.
So, these days Jon doesn’t even acknowledge the rock media. In response, we take every opportunity to dismiss him as irrelevant. Yet, deep down, all those who were fans of the band so many years ago yearn to embrace them again. And I fully believe that Jon et al need their rock audience.
Listening to the new record, The Circle, you have the impression that nobody in the Jovi camp is really stretching themselves. No disrespect to those who dashed out to buy the new record on the day of release, and have already got tickets for the O2 Arena residency next year, but they’re rather too easily pleased. What this band needs is a right old kick up the arse, to reconnect with the hard rockers and make the album that I sense they wanna do – and I know a lot of the old brigade would love to hear again.
We should care, because Bon Jovi were a supreme band through the latter part of the 1980s, and none of us have forgotten it. We should care for the same reasons that everyone always believes the next Metallica album will be sensational, however many dire records they make in the meantime. We should care, in the same way that we never gave up on Iron Maiden when they brought in Blaze Bayley.
Perhaps Jon will read this, and think about taking up the challenge of getting back his soul. Maybe he’ll ponder over the thought that he is a great songwriter who’s allowed his art form to wither under the unforgiving cosh of cash.
Most importantly, Jon, just mull over the fact that there are a lot of people out there who’ve given up on you, don’t care anymore… but still get angry at your wrong decisions. There’s hope yet.
– Malcolm Dome
* Be sure to visit the Classic Rock website tomorrow, when Dave Ling will offer his opposing viewpoint.