Five years after the release of "These Days", Bon Jovi breaks back into the scene with "Crush". This album contains some key Bon Jovi classics and is a key crossover point between the long-time fans and the younger fans in the process of discovering the band. Many Bon Jovi purists consider this to be the last 'classic' album, everything coming after being modern Bon Jovi. The period between "These Days" and "Crush" had several downs for Bon Jovi, but "Crush" is characteristic for being a particularly happy album, dealing with love, hope and feelings of longevity (As a pose to the more serious and sombre tone of the previous album). In it's light-heartedness it is not the most serious of Bon Jovi's albums - it's about feeling good and most of the songs are light enough to deserve the sparing of over-analysis.
This album is not particularly strong as a "Record", playing from start to finish as a masterpiece, but its strengths lie in the individual songs, and for this reason I will proceed in a song-by-song fashion. I will leave out individual song ratings - not only are they too subjective, but I don't like putting songs on a scale.
"It's My Life" - Undoubtedly the hit-maker on the album. This song is among the most famous outside the serious fanbase, along with 'Prayer and 'Bad Name. I don't think its the highlight of the album by any stretch, but it is definitely enough of a stadium anthem to be a great choice for an album-opener. An infectious intro and great sing-along lines make it a great live number. "It's my life - it's now or never, I ain't gonna live for ever" Simple, live-life thinking, but it's something we should all heed while we're bouncing to this one.
"Say it Isn't So" - The only song that could fall under 'Negative' in this album. This is a song about denial of the truth about one particular love, as well as that of the society we live in. Accompanied by a very curious and entertaining video, there is still hope in Jon's voice as he begs to wake up from this nightmare.
"Thank You For Loving Me" - One of the softer songs on the album, this one reaches far into the realms of soppyness but manages to pull it off remarkably well, with Jon's simple and honest tone and the band's excellent backing. The underlying story is that we made it through the bad times, and now things are better. This comes across not only in the lyrics, but also in the structure which starts with a soft piano and ends with an eruption of passion both in the vocals and in the instruments. Excellent technique. Might come across as simple but is wonderfully thought out and executed.
"Two Story Town" - Probably the only song in which a lead singer carrying a shiny telecaster on which he plays one sustained note every bar comes across as the coolest thing in the world. A song about breaking out - Bon Jovi has done many, and this is not the absolute best, but it supplies the theme to the album in a satisfactory way. One of the unexplainable cool things in life - it doesn't come across as specials, but stays in your mind forever.
"Next 100 Years" - Longevity indeed. This falls into the "I'll be there for you" category and is one of the strong ones in there, in my opinion. The song posses all of the epic heart-warming presence you would expect from a song trying to deal this topic seriously, served with all the rock you would expect from Bon Jovi. A pleasing instrumental break near the end gives us a good dose of adrenaline before Jon comes back for the finale. The epic strings really make this song for me, as well as the observation that "Time ain't nothing but time"
"Just Older" - Another one on longevity and the feeling of permanence. Kicks right in with the anthemic feel before Jon comes in - he's returned to his hometown to find his old friends, and although he's grown up, he reminds everyone that it's still him. One of the best breaks in the history of Bon Jovi when the instruments die down, a moment which probably makes this song the highlight of the album for me, and is incredible live. Jon says this is definitely the anthem on this album - It's been a while since "These Days", but Bon Jovi are back, and it's still Bon Jovi.
"Mystery Train" - After all this anthemic glee the decision to fill in the next spot with a softer song is very well placed. Not one of the greats in the album, in my opinion, but it is nevertheless a nice melodic song about a girl, and who can ever get enough of those"
"Save The World" - The romantic dreams of a young adult are taken up here by a character considerably more mature than you would expect arguments about saving the world from, but this doesn't make it any less of a great love song. The backing seems to reach higher and higher with every climax and by the end of the song we're all high on romantic fantasies. Excellent or what"
"Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen from Mars" - For me this is definitely up there with "Just Older". A simple song that doesn't try to be pretentious or romantic, but is so deliciously crafted that once you've found it it's with you forever. Memorable chorus and ending, very sticky lead line, and a very well dosed sense of humour and imagination.
"She's A Mystery" - Probably the quietest on the album, this is another one about a particular girl and her mysteries, accompanied by the realization that he loves her just as she is. I can sense some Jon-Bon-Jovi-ish humour in here. Not one of the highlights, but it works alright as a filler.
"I Got The Girl" - Somewhat like the one above, except the key feature here is his continuing astonishment at the fact she's his. Some great melodies happening here. I like this one more than the previous because they are both light love melodies, and this one acts as just that, while "She's A Mystery" tends to try and be a bit over-romantic for what it is.
"One Wild Night" - Another of my favourites, with a very classy, almost comical chachacha-spoof intro. Everything is very well thought out in this song, from the "nanana" pre-chorus to the "But you're not gonna believe who comes walking out" sudden drop. Considering it's topic this isn't a very serious or deep song, but in my opinion it more than makes up for it in sleazy quality. Right on.
"I Could Make A Living Out Of Loving You" - I'm afraid I cannot provide an explanation for the very weird beginning (i.e. "I'm here to talk to you about James Brown Haha hehe" and 40 seconds of silence before the song starts). The actual song is probably one of the low points of the album, at least to my eyes (Read: ears). There is nothing about the song which catches my attention, and the attempt to drive the song with drums and vocals, with guitar only lending the occasional lending hand, hasn't quite worked out. This is a bonus track (Go figure) so most versions of this album ended with "One Wild Night" which in my opinion is an amazing way to end this record. It's a shame that this had to be stuck on the end - cutting the silence off the head and putting this in the middle of the record would have alleviated the damage. Listening to the song in isolation, it's not a total failure, but it's context totally ruins it for me.
This is my first review on this site, so I guess I'll see what the feedback tastes of before I decide if to bother writing more.. Cheers to anyone who comments.