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Bon Jovi - 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Bon Jovi

100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Island
release year: 2004
performance: 3
sound 3
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Image When you stop and consider artists who have recorded more music than they know what to do with, familiar R&B names like Stevie Wonder and Prince usually immediately cross the mind. One supposes these unique cats don’t merely record new albums from scratch so much as gather together collections of their latest and greatest tracks. Granted, Jon Bon Jovi is a respected songwriter, but he hardly has the reputation of being a prolific artist in, say, the Prince mode. But the man that gave the world “Bad Medicine” actually has a whole pharmacy, if you will, of mostly unreleased music stashed away – until now, at least. 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong, a title that tips its hat to an old Elvis album, collects a boatload of primarily unreleased tracks by the band Bon Jovi, and spanning a four-disc set.
Putting out all of this largely untested music in a box set format is unquestionably a gutsy move. Jon Bon Jovi, remember, is the hunky and hairy singer for an ‘80s hair band, a man who has earned his money by making catchy pop-metal anthems. He is not, however, somebody well known for his hidden treasure CD tracks, concept albums or themed projects of any kind. He’s a New Jersey hit machine, my friends, instead of an introverted artist. Next to his work with the band that carries his name, in fact, he’s probably best known for being an actor. (All I’ve got to say is, good luck Island Records with marketing this baby!)

This set also includes an additional DVD, which finds the band members (mostly just Bon Jovi, though) talking and reminiscing about the songs included in the package. Some of this talk is informative, such as when Bon Jovi explains how “Lonely at the Top” was inspired but Kurt Cobain’s sad plight. But for the most part, it’s a whole lot of, “Man, I forgot all about that one!” And since Bon Jovi isn’t what might be called a poetic rock band, most of its songs speak perfectly fine for themselves already. Any extra commentary is hardly a necessity.

As might be expected, it’s sometimes easy to spot exactly why a few of these tracks were passed over in the first place, and waited so long to see release. One called “Why Aren't You Dead?,” for instance, includes the lines, “If you couldn’t live without me/So why aren’t you dead?” Such cruel words might be cool for shock rock acts like Guns ‘N Roses, but they’re simply unfitting for hopeless romantics such as Bon Jovi. There are also a few songs sung by band members other than Jon Bon Jovi, including “Memphis Lives in Me {From Memphis},” which is contributed here by keyboardist David Bryan, and the gruff, Tom Waits-ian “Only in My Dreams” submitted by drummer Tico Torres.

Much more representative of the true Bon Jovi spirit is “Outlaws of Love,” which finds Jon singing, “You and me against the world/Outlaws of love” during one ominous-sounding, guitar-driven track. Jon has always presented himself as a sort of Springsteen-lite, and this song finds the man easily slipping into this chosen minor role.

It would be tempting to recommend this set to only existing Bon Jovi fans. But because these mainly-unreleased tracks don’t sound all that unlike the group’s prior, more familiar hits, you don’t already need to be a cardholding fan club member to enjoy them. So even if you’re a newbie to the band, you can probably still appreciate what’s presented here. This means that 100,000,000 Bon Jovi fans, and even non-fans, can’t go wrong with this release.

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