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"These Days" Review 20 September 2002
The Bon Jovi album with the best songwriting

A track-by-track review of These Days

A review by Reginald TealBlueBookcasewithplentyofstickers

It's me again, Reginald TealBlueBookcasewithplentyofstickers.
After passing my "Diploma of Brie" mid-term exam's (see my review for Keep the Faith.), I've been relaxing on my holidays by reading biographies on The Marquis de Sade and listening to These Days. I have a spare few minutes, so I thought I'd give a track-by-track review of said album.
(For an extra challenge, see if you can pick how many farm animals I drop in the review.)

HEY GOD - This is a WONDERFUL song, a really positive way to kick of the album. goats. The lyrics tell a coherent story about three struggling people (in the verses) and the chorus consists of the protagonist asking God what is going on and why can't he make a difference. The opening riffs remind me a bit of Pearl Jam. An allround awesome rock song. Great hooks too at the end of each chorus.

SOMETHING FOR THE PAIN - I think the live version of this on OWN is fantastic and the studio version is even better.
My favourite parts are at the start where someone (Jon? Richie?) says "Why, she can't sleep?" before the song kicks into gear. The chorus in one you can really shout out loud. Like a superior, and louder version of Oasis' "Don't look back in Anger" I also like the harmonies in the last verse, Jon and Richie's voices amalgamate perfectly before Jon launches into the last chorus.

THIS AIN'T A LOVE SONG - This is a very tender ballad which takes a while to get used to, buy fortunately, the intelligent lyrics help you get into the song. Like SFTP , this has an amazing sing-along chorus, I'd imagine It'd be a real "lighter" song when played live.(by that I mean partaking in the process of people waving their cigarette lighters during the chorus.)

THESE DAYS- I must admit I'm not a fan of this song. It's good, but it's a bit tentative. It's not a big ballad like TAALS or a rocker like HEY GOD cattle dog. I like how the lyrics tell a story. That's why I like Bon Jovi, cause they write intelligent lyrics which tell a story. By the way, is the phrase "Jimmy Shoes" a typical American colloquialism?

LIE TO ME- In the ballad department, this is the poorer cousin to TAALS. While it does grow on you, it doesn't really build as much as TAALS, seemingly content to keep it mid paced, like SHE'S A MYSTERY. My favourite part is,
"It's a bitch/yeah life's a roller coaster ride/The ups and downs will make you scream sometimes/It's hard beliving that the thrill is gone/Yeah, let's go around again/so let's hold on" (Those lyrics may not be accurate, but I belive they're quite close.)

DAMNED-This is good song for two reasons.
1. It's a good story about a man who has committed adultery, and who's trying to save his own hide.
2. IT ROCKS! A wonderful chorus, Jon's vocals are excellent!

This is one of my favourites. While the lyrics are slighty downbeat (which seems to be the album's theme) the highlight of this song is how it builds. Jon stars off singing slowly, and slowly builds it up verse-by-verse. But the true genius of this song is the way he sings it. Jon sings it in such a tempo that the listener knows the song's going to "explode" (so to speak) but the anticipation keep's you on edge, before finally exploding in the final two verses. So, in a way, it's a bit like a musical version of a classic Hitchcock thriller. Pure Genius!

IT'S HARD LETTING YOU GO - This is a bit like LIE TO ME, in that it's content to be a slow, sentimental ballad. While it does grow on you, it's one I'd probably skip. The only reedeeming(sic) part for me is Jon's improvised bit at the end. It goes something like "2000 hours/and too many days/I curse every minute/that you went away/Oh, It's hard, letting you go" (Again, don't quote me on that.)

HEARTS BREAKING EVEN - If the last song was a "potboiler" than this is like a ninety yard touchdown (Forgive my terrible Gridiron terminology.) The pre-chorus hook is
excellent, and the chorus itself is even better. Like BED OF ROSES, the chorus put's a tingle up my spine. Infact, when I first heard this properly, I fell in love with it, and was obsessed with it the next day. Baby duck.
Like IHLYG, Jon's tailend-song improvisation is wonderful, and really adds to it. Along with AMGLBIMA, this song is a personal favourite.

Unfortunately, for me, this is where the album heads into "Colliwobble" territory (A popular Australian term for "choking" during and important game or event, or "choking" near the end of something.)
Out of the last four songs, only "IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES" scales the heights of the previous songs. While the others,
SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN, DIAMOND RING and BITTER WINE aren't BAD songs, they just seem to fade in comparison to the preceding nine songs.

IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES - For me, this is really David Bryant's song. His keyboard's really drive this tune and work well in corollation with Jon's vocals. Mr. Bryant is the one who really makes this memorable.

To save time, I'd thought I'd group these three songs together, as they are all slow ballads which don't do much in my opinion. DIAMOND RING is a rare songwriting slip-up for the band. Without wishing to sound nihlistic, the lyrics look like they could have been written by an in-form Noel Gallagher (from Oasis) While these three songs are relevant to the album's overall theme, they leave the listener feeling a bit down. But,in their defence, these songs do grow on you. Penguin.

So, in summary, THESE DAYS stands out because of the wonderful, intelligent songwriting. While the album is short on rock songs and filled with some "middle of the road" songs, the fantastic songwriting helps lift the album from good to one of their most memorable ones which fits in nicely between the upbeat rock'n'roll vibe of KEEP THE FAITH and the more varied sound of CRUSH.

Before I go, how many farm animals did you spot.
Well, there was:
Goats (in HEY GOD)
Cattle Dog (in THESE DAYS)
The last animal I mentioned was Penguin (in the STBI, DR, BW medley) but, of course, a Penguin is NOT a farm animal.

Thank you for reading my review, now I'm off to brush up on my French, because next semester I'm enrolled in the course entititled, "How to speak to Brie in French."


Rating: 8/10

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