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New album from Bon Jovi.

This is a line that, at this point in time, will either get your heart pumping, your excitement level go through the roof and make you want to cheer at the prospect of having another album from this classic band.

OR…

It will make you groan, roll your eyes and shake your head at the thought of yet another album from a band that formerly rocked in days long past.

Indeed, few bands have the power to elicit such sheer passion and dedication from the throngs of fans the world over and, at the same time, elicit the sheer disgust and hate of former fans over the change of direction in the past few albums.

In fact there is really no winning when it comes to talking about this band as you are just as likely to get mocked for liking them as you are to get cursed at for disliking them. There are very few bands in history that demand so much fierce passion on both sides of the fence.

Some folks feel ‘Keep The Faith’ was the last great album from the band while others think it was ‘Have A Nice Day’ or perhaps ‘Crush’, but whatever the case may be for you personally, the general consensus among the former fans is that the comeback album for the band, 1995’s darker, moodier ‘These Days’ (my fav BJ album), marked the beginning of the end for the band.

And then you have the die hard fans. The ones that are lifers in the Bon Jovi camp, the ones that soak up anything and everything the group have ever released, even with the directional changes in the music we have seen over the years.

These are basically the two groups you will find when you mention the classic rock band. One group are passionate die-hards and the others are disgusted haters. There is very little middle ground with this band these days.

With a career encompassing three decades, thirteen studio albums, two live albums, two greatest hits collections, a re-tooled greatest hits record, a box set and countless singles to their name and selling well over one hundred and thirty million records, there is no denying that this legendary band and their iconic frontman are one of the best known and longest lasting bands left in the world as they still fill arenas and sell out tours the world over.

Indeed, regardless of your stance on the Bon Jovi of today, there is no denying the massive following the band has or the fact that they have given us some of the greatest and most well known stadium rock anthems and power ballads to ever come out of the genre.

I dare say that anyone within the reach of rock music is no stranger to the opening chords of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’, the catchy chorus of ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’, the dualing guitars of Jon and Richie on the opening of ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ or the female swoon inducing ‘I’ll Be There For You’. These songs are all staples of the genre that, love them or hate them, have undeniably left their mark.

I myself fall into the catagory of die hard fan. They are my favorite band, and this goes back to their start and the amazing music they put out back then. I will readily admit that had I not been such a die hard fan prior to their change in sound then I likely would not care much for their more recent stuff, but the simple truth is that I love all things Bon Jovi.

From those hair band days of the 1980’s to these more pop rock oriented albums of today, I love it all. They will always be my favorite band, if for no other fact then the utterly phenomenal music they put out in their hey day.

So the fact that I love this new album is no surprise to me or anyone who knows me. All it takes is one look at the massive collection of Bon Jovi music that I own for one to realize that I am more than just a causual fan, and believe me, I get more grief and playful ribbing from family and friends over my love of this band then anything else in life.

However, being a die hard, I had to listen to this new record objectively and really think about it from the standpoint of how good the album actually was, period, and not just the fact that my favorite band just released a new record and how I would love to share it with the world.

The first thing that is apparent is that Jon has not changed his sound one bit from the ‘The Circle’, ‘What About Now’ and ‘Burning Bridges’ records. Which is not a surprise at all. Do we really expect at this point that they will rip out another ‘Slippery When Wet’ or ‘New Jersey’ album?

As awesome as that would be there is absolutely no chance of it ever happening again. Those days and that sound are long gone, get used to it. Yet people still seemed surprised, even after years and multiple albums, that anything new the band releases does not sound like the classic band.

So for those that have not figured this out yet, no the band does not sound like they did thirty years ago when they were all 20 years old.

No, they are not really a “rock” band anymore so much as a pop rock incarnation of the band they used to be. No, Jon does NOT sound like he did back when ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ came out, he sounds like a 54 year old man does and is doing songs that his voice can handle now. Don’t go into the album expecting the same sound they had in 1986 because it is most definitely not there.

So moving on, we have the same sound we have been getting from the band recently. If you did not care for those past few albums then you may as well stop reading and move on because you almost assuredly will not like this one either.

This record falls somewhere between the sound of the ‘Have A Nice Day’ album and the ‘What About Now’ album. We have some rockers like the ‘H.A.N.D.’ influenced title track and we have more mellow songs like ‘Come On Up To Our House’ that feel more like the recent releases from the band.

The absence of guitarist, backup vocalist and co-writer Richie Sambora is amazingly not very noticeable in the songwriting. Sure his sound and voice are not present but I was rather surprised that the songs still sound the same as they have been the past few albums that Sambora was a part of, which makes me wonder just how much say he actually had in the writing.

This is the first album from the band ever that has no ties at all to the former member. Though he did not play on the last release, ‘Burning Bridges’, he still had some writing credits on the record. This new one is a completely Sambora free album. And that, in and of itself, is not a negative as far as the music is concerned.

Jon and Richie were a dynamic duo. Their writing, their playing and their voices all blended so amazingly it was a thing of beauty and Sambora is an outstanding guitarist and vocalist. In those aspects he is sorely missed.

Love them or hate them and say what you will about Jon, but the man has always known how to turn a phrase and write some great lyrics that always have a message that most anyone can relate to and like all of their other records we have the same style in the optimistic messages here.

Songs about love, about hope, about living life, overcoming obstacles you face & being the best version of yourself you can be pervade every track here. From love songs to uplifting songs to the title track which says that you won’t sell yourself out and be something that you are not. That you will not be swayed in your beliefs & that you will stand up, be true to yourself & say ‘This House Is Not For Sale’.

So, bottom line, this is the same Bon Jovi we have seen since 2005. There’s nothing here that we haven’t heard 100 times before, and that suits me, as a fan, just fine. For those of you who don’t care for the directional changes the band has taken then it is the mark of death for the record. And even as such a big fan that is something that I can certainly understand.

This holds very little resemblance to the Bon Jovi of old and it is not for everyone, and that is fine. But for those that remains fans like myself then check it out. There are some great songs to be had from the album.

It is not their strongest or best album obviously, but it is a solid release from a classic band that, at the very least, deserve respect for still making music and still being one of the biggest rock acts in the world to this day.

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