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TLFR Review from 11 December 2003
"An interesting, if failed, experiment"


It's taken me a month to write this review, because I have been a fan of Bon Jovi since 1983 and this is the first time I have ever actively disliked a Bon Jovi album. In fact, the first five or six times I listened to it, it caused me physical pain. I could easily theorize that this album was released as a way to refocus fan interest on Jon's acting career, rather than on his musical contributions, but surely it's not quite that simple.

Pre-release press indicated that this CD would be "Greatest Hits with a Twist". Due to Bon Jovi's acclaimed acoustic work, many fans eagerly anticpated this, especially with the news that there would be two new songs on it. However, in the end, the new songs were dropped, and this went from a standard "Unplugged" album to "radical re-invention and re-arrangement" of Bon Jovi's biggest hits. It is an interesting, if failed, experiment.

"Wanted Dead or Alive" has relies heavily on effects, evoking AM or CB radios, and with a much harsher, driving sound to the guitars, but somewhere it lost the glossy, ethereal blues that made shivers go up and down one's spine in the earlier versions of it."Livin' on a Prayer" has already been reconstructed, but this version is much more radical--no longer a celebratory anthem, it has been re-worked into a moody piece that somehow misses the mark. "Bad Medicine" is almost unrecognizable, with a country twang, although Jon's voice has a seductive quality to it that is a welcome change from his usual adenoidal whining and is very similar to
his work on "Living in Sin".

"It's My Life" takes on a funereal, almost torchy, quality that somehow belies the positive intent of its lyrics. However, Sambora's guitar and Bryan's piano work combine for a nicely moody background that would be much more appealing as just an instrumental track. "Lay Your Hands on Me" starts off in a mode that reminds one of "Ode to Billie Joe", but it is obvious that Jon is trading on vocal tricks, rather than actually singing, although the cheery harmonies of the chorus are amusing. "You Give Love a Bad Name" has been revamped into a blues and has actually grown on me, even though it lacks the instant gut-grabbing feeling of the original.


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