|Bon Jovi - Crush|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 13 June 2000|
Anyone my age who grew up in New Jersey who tells you they weren’t effected by Bon Jovi is lying. The hair, the guitars, the screaming groupies with gravity defying bangs . . . Springsteen was for our parents. Bon Jovi, while never anywhere close to being the heaviest band in a time when heavy metal was cool, were sort of local heroes. Musical tastes have come full circle and now the climate is right for a new Bon Jovi record for the first time in seven years.
Musically, Bon Jovi is very formulaic. The success of records like ‘Slippery When Wet’ and ‘New Jersey’ are built around sugary sweet choruses, heavy guitar chops and rich melodic layering. ‘Crush’ is no different. This is a record that has an appeal that most won’t understand but will sing along to anyway.
The single and start-up tune "It’s My Life" is the highlight of the record. It kicks off with a heavy staccato talk box guitar chop and a raspy but exquisitely present and strangely familiar Jon Bon Jovi vocal. In the old days Bon Jovi would just start their songs out with the chorus. In "It’s My Life," they don’t take too long to get to the multi-layered and juicy payoff. While the song has heavy overtones, deep bass and musical power, in true Bon Jovi format, the tune is more pop than metal. "It’s My Life" is a singalong radio hit if I have ever heard one with a tight zero ending.
As the record proceeds, the tunes become progressively more poppy and light. The subject matter, much like the Van Hagar period in Van Halen, reflects the fact that the members of Bon Jovi aren’t teenagers any more. The tune "Save The World" take this concept to the limit, with lyrics like "Never went to college/Don’t have a degree/ Say I went to night school/I learned a lot out on the street/I wasn’t born a rich man/I ain’t got no pedigree/The sweat on this old collar, that’s my PHD." Before you get the urge to buy a used Coupe De Ville and install plastic slip covers on your sofa, the tune gets back to a classically sweet Jovi chorus. Even as the lowliest tune on the record, the format prevails. If you were ever wondering why Bon Jovi sold so many records and why they have such global appeal, it is their working-class, American pop-rock format. It is hard to resist.
From an audio standpoint, ‘Crush’ is a true treat, possibly one of the best-sounding records of the year. Jon’s voice is just killer, present, raspy and powerful. He’s always on top of the mix, which is well-layered and built on some of the deepest bass I have heard in some time. The space between instruments is excellent, as you’d expect from mixing engineer Bob Clearmountian. This record is reference quality and is an excellent demo, especially "It’s My Life."
It’s good to have Bon Jovi back. I’ve missed their style, sound and optimistic outlook. I’ve panned more than one multi-platinum record from the likes of Alanis to Sting for being full of angst and depression when the stock market is at an all-time high, the economy is roaring, inflation is low and unemployment is even lower. What is there to be bummed about? It feels good to hear these sing-along melodies and hopeful tunes. ‘Crush’ has campy appeal as well as 9/10 audio performance, a worthy $16 investment even in an up market.