Review Summary: This album is the Bon Jovi album you should have if any, an absolute classic with anthems you wont be able to stop yourself singing along to.
New Jersey was released in 1988, almost immediatly after the mammoth tour for Slippery When Wet, and was a huge commercial success. excellent choruses and a huge guitar sound with kick ass solo's, this album is a fan favourite.
"lay your hands on me" kicks the album off, with its epic introduction which then materilizes into a form of gospel-rock song, which is completely unexpected. the chorus has a real "sing-a-long" feel to it, and is still thrashed out in their live repitoire. you can't help but tap your foot along with this song.
and if you weren't tapping your foot before, "bad medicine" follows up. keys followed up with more "big" guitar, it's little wonder this song hung in the top 10 for so long. jon really sings his lungs out, and the really high choral-like harmonies from slippery have gone to be replaced by a more anthemic backing. this song is a highlight of the bon jovi collection, and a pop-rock classic
and then we get "born to be my baby", the "slippery" keys are back, and the lovey lyrics but the song still comes across really well. its not preachy like "i'd die for you", its just a straight-up love song. not as creative as "bad medicine" or "lay your hands on me", but still has it's place on the album as the "token" rock love song. the song also hung out in the top 10, which could be attributed to the huge female fan base.
"living in sin" is the big ballad, and was also a top 10 hit. jon's vocal ability is shown off, and the lyrical content is alot more believable than some of the earlier bon jovi lyrical content. adding this to another excellent guitar solo, great break-downs and build-ups, this song is another bon jovi classic
nostalgia is back and big, with the fan-favourite tune "Blood on blood". simple musically, the song has a real story-telling feel to it and the lyrics are very simple to relate to, much like "living on a prayer". A Bon Jovi anthem, this song has it all, loads of drum action, another big guitar solo, and a really great chorus.
"homebound train" is an interesting song. the guitar riff is great, and there is a real "cowboy" feel to the introduction. and vocally it starts great, and you get the feeling this is going to be another top 10 hit off the press, but then the song sort of falls over in the chorus, and you start to get the feeling that the song needs to go somewhere, but it doesn't. with such a heavy riff, you wait for the huge guitar solo, but then it doesn't really come. this song had alot of potential, but never really did enough
"wild is the wind" follows, with its beautiful acoustic guitar introduction, and finally you feel like your getting something different. the song overall is okay, the cowboy feel is back, the lyrics are standard bon jovi, and musically its pretty simple. the chorus again, is sort of missing something, and is extremely repetitive, but you can still listen to the song and enjoy it. the guitar job bar the introduction is average compared with the rest of the album.
then the cover of "ride cowboy ride", which is sort of put in as an explanation i guess. the whole album had really hit a cowboy rut you could say, and the way this song is recorded it sort of helps you realise where bon jovi were when they wrote this album. the old scratchy record sound to the recording gives the impression that the whole idea of the album is looking back, and the influences from their youth.
"stick to your guns" follows off nicely from "ride cowboy ride", in that it launches into another big cowboy sounding song. this song does alot better than "homebound train", and "wild is the wind" because its sort of a mix between the two. a cool balance between acoustic guitar and big guitar, and a good chorus backs it up. its a pretty cool idea in the song, it sounds like it should be on a cowboy movie just before the shoot off or whatever. the song is simple musically and lyrically again, but its not really the idea of the song or the album. its all about feel good, and this song has it.
then we throw the cowboy out the window with the huge ballad "i'll be there for you". its funny, this song is so simple musically and lyrically, and its quite preachy, but somehow you can't help but sing along in the chorus. i have no doubt that any woman that liked bon jovi in the 80's dreamed about jon singing this song to her, and im sure jons looks and the female fan base contributed to this song hitting number 1 for weeks. a tidy love song.
the last two songs "99 in the shade" and "love for sale" are a fantasic way to round out an album of this style. "99 in the shade" is so simple yet so good, its really fun and the song has a real summer feel to it. you can just picture yourself driving a convertible, wind in your hair with stereo blasting out this tune. the pitch harmonics from the guitar in the verses are borderline ridiculous, but it really suits the song, and you get your fix of a big guitar solo to round the album out. "love for sale" puts the fun in blues. the whole idea of the song is really chilled and funny, you almost feel like they are just taking the piss and having a laugh, and essentially they are. not hit material, but a fun way to round out the album.
overall this album is a pop-rock masterpiece. it has simplicity in abundance, but in keeping it simple, bon jovi have managed to make a commercially fantastic album.