Reviewed by Melanie Haupt, Fri., Dec. 10, 2004
Bon Jovi100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong ... (Island)
The year was 1986. I was a sheltered, chubby high school freshman in a microscopic East Texas town, completely oblivious to what was at the top of the pops. Suffice it to say I had no clue why the gymnasium erupted in screams every time the tubas busted out the opening bassline to "Livin' on a Prayer" during pep rallies. Course, it didn't take long before I was as big a freak for feather-haired hottie Jon Bon Jovi as all the other girls. Thus, I hoped 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong ... meant reliving those carefree days of dubious fashion sense. It is, after all, the ultimate completist's collection: a 4-CD collection (the SUV of box sets) of unreleased Bon Jovi tracks that only a select few have heard to this day. Which there's good reason for: Vintage Bon Jovi this ain't. It feels like a dumping ground for the crap they couldn't unload before hitting the 100,000,000 mark. A twirl through the first disc, all four of them differentiated by dice (in keeping with a tacky Las Vegas theme), leaves me cold. The only song that stands out is closer "I Just Want to Be Your Man." It's quiet and intense, JBJ having dialed down the wailing rock-star schtick that plagues the previous 11 songs on the disc. CD No. 2: snake eyes. Jesus, has JBJ always sung this far out of tune? There are reminders of the solid musicianship in the New Jersey quintet, particularly Richie Sambora's skills as a guitarist. On "Outlaws of Love, " his playing is sexy and stuttering. On "We Rule the Night," it's powerful and menacing. And then the disc is over. Disc three is the novelty disc, the nadir being "Only in My Dreams," with vocals by drummer Tico Torres. It's awful. These are talented musicians all, but that crucial conflagration of innocence, naïveté, and excess that contributed to so many hair bands' success 20 years ago has expired. Especially for a bloated, self-congratulatory collection housed in very un-eco-friendly packaging. Depressing.