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Old 02-20-2005, 06:01 PM
openallnight openallnight is offline
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Default review of new jersey

Lay Your Hands On Me

Written by: JBJ, RS
Status: Fourth single from the album released in July 1989, peaked at #7 in the US, at #18 in the UK

A drum beat fades in from silence. It strenghtens, soon to become a loud, thunderous force. A crowd of mighty "hey's" accompany it, and then we hear Jon's voice: "They say to free your body / you've got to free your mind...".
Make no mistake, the intro to Lay Your Hands On Me is incredibly powerful. Then organ harmonies take over, and the song bursts into an excellent piece of rock'n roll.
Lay Your Hands On Me which opens the New Jersey album, isn't your average rock'n roll track. It is average in the sense that it's quite plain and simple and the lyrics are what they are (or actually, although in many songs - not just by BJ - there are lyrics just to accompany the "rock" in it, the lyrics of Hands are actually really good to this sort of thing; although they make no sense they're easy, fun and good to sing along to).
But it's definietly not average because it's just so damn good. The big things, the "trademarks" of the song are the mighty drum beat and the organs. The drum beat is one of those that kind of were always there (a bit like We Will Rock You), just waiting to be picked up and used. The organs, another important feature, give exceptional solemnity to the song and when played live encouraged Jon to invite the audience into "the church of rock'n roll".
It goes without saying that Lay Your Hands On Me used to be a massive live song. On the tours for New Jersey in 1988-89 it was used as the concert opener (as well as in 1996), but the heyday of this song was in 1993 and 1995 when they played a giant 10 minute version of it. It used to shake the stadions up with the drum & organ intro played by Tico and David, Jon's playing with the audience and an extra solo they added to the song. No doubt that at that time it was one of the numerous concert highlights.
Lay Your Hands On Me is just excellent. It's a truly gripping rock song and your classic Bon Jovi rocker.

Rating: ****


Bad Medicine

Written by: JBJ, RS, DC
Status: First single from the album released in September 1988, peaked at #1 in the US, at #17 in the UK

This is the ultimate Bon Jovi rock'n roll song. Bad Medicine, which was the first single from the album and another no.1 hit, is no short of a Bon Jovi classic.
Bad Medicine begins, and throughout the song is dominated with David's simple, heavy and catchy keyboard riff. The song has excellent guitarwork by Richie, pounding drums and big choruses. The lyrics, which are another shot at the "hey, foxy babe" vein, are definietly fun. The song has it all: it's melodic and fun, it has the big, loud and catchy choruses, it's lyrically very innocent but the song is still very heavy, - it's no wonder the song was a hit.
Bad Medicine is another integral Bon Jovi song. It's also a song that was always played live and had its live heyday in the 90's, when it was used as the closer of the main set.
As said, Bad Medicine is a Bon Jovi classic. And what goes to those pure, fun rock'n roll songs by the band, Bad Medicine is perhaps the very best one.

Rating: *****


Born To Be My Baby

Written by: JBJ, RS, DC
Status: Second single from the album released in November 1988, peaked at #3 in the US, at #22 in the UK

Born To Be My Baby is a really fast paced song. It just accelerates as it goes on and it never stops, the fast beat keeps on driving until the song eventually fades away. The song was another hit, and with the (perhaps a bit typical) lovelorn lyrics so many teenage girls are known to be so fascinated about, the catchy na-na-na's and the fast beat, it's hardly a wonder. And no doubt, you can't help but tap your feet to the beat of this song.
Perhaps a bit strangely, this is a song from which I prefer the album version to be significantly better than the live version. That is because I've always felt that the live version just simply can't keep up to the pace of the studio version. Playing this live on the New Jersey and Keep The Faith tours was nice, but it was great that they realized to drop it off the set after 1993. Picking this song up again and playing it in the 2000's has been nothing but ridiculous.
This is a song that I used to like more in the past. Their awful decision to play it live in the 2000's and the song's slight but unmistaken commercialism (hey, even just the title...) have gnawed my liking of this song. But it's a good song nevertheless, and despite of their recent failures live, the album version does still sound good. But on this album there are many better tracks.

Rating: ***


Living In Sin

Written by: JBJ
Status: Fifth single from the album released in November 1989, peaked at #9 in the US, at #35 in the UK

The only song on the album written completely by Jon is a good piece of writing from him. The lyrics are about two lovers, whose love isn't accepted by the people around them. Supposedly the lovers have a strong religious background, and therefore they're "living in sin" because they aren't married or something like that. I've always thought that the lyrics could just as well be about two homosexuals. I guess the strict religious background is the case here (and the sloppy, poor music video made for this song does indicate that way) but the lyrics do fit very well for a common situation of a gay couple (at least in such a conservative country the USA is).
But anyway, Jon did write good lyrics. And the song is great. It's basically another fine example of their talent, both lyrically and instrumentally impeccable. With a bit of a sad note to the song; after the New Jersey tour it was too rare treat live, it was hardly ever played in the 1990's. Also, I guess although the song was a single and did chart well, it's also one of those "fans favourite" songs. A great piece all around.

Rating: ****


Blood On Blood

Written by: JBJ, RS, DC
Status: Album track

To me and many others, this is the song of the album.
Blood On Blood is an ode to friendship and brotherhood. The lyrics are a walk down the memory lane of the speaker. Danny, Bobby and the narrator are the characters in this tale of youth, and the themes of innocence and mistakes of adolescence and friendship are so well-presented here. They may have got some criticizm that the lyrics would be cliched, and it's true that more or less the same themes were explored and written about in both Never Say Goodbye and Wild In The Streets, but I guess you write about what you know and the lyrics are good anyway.
But it's not exactly, and definietly only the lyrics that make Blood On Blood so great, but the fact that the song is so powerful. It is its sheer power that astonishes you every time you hear it. And also because it's instrumentally so great, it's especially the dazzling drumming and the piano that shine like a gem, not to mention Richie's strong guitar work too...
This was an essential live song as well, a song they always loved to play live and did play on all tours. The song was one of the band's own favourites, and it was a big fan favourite as well.
This powerful and beautiful song is for me the highlight of the album.

Rating: *****


Homebound Train

Written by: JBJ, RS
Status: Album track (also released as B-side to I'll Be There For You)

Like the first two tracks of the album, this is another number for the headbangers among us. Homebound Train is a very simple song, its purpose is to rock, rock and rock... It's a wicked and very heavy number with lyrics that are not really craving to be too artistic. It's good that there are these kind of pure rock songs on the record that are very far from every sense of commerciality, but I've never been a big fan of this song. That's because it's so brainless and pointless, and a little boring too. When listening to New Jersey, this is the song that tends to get skipped the most. The weakest song on the album.

Rating: **


Wild Is The Wind

Written by: JBJ, RS, DC, Diane Warren
Status: Album track

Wild Is The Wind is a song which lyrics concentrate around the common themes of heartache and break-up. Only this is not a ballad but a rock song, and the lyrics do take perhaps a bit of unusual approach to the subject as they tell about a man who felt he couldn't be good enough for his woman, and therefore he left her. He did his best and tried to be the man for her, but perhaps lost his self-confidence or something, and that drove him away from her.
Wild Is The Wind is one of those songs that are good, but not really great. Besides the regular guest Desmond Child the song has another non-Jovi person giving their input to the lyrics: Diane Warren. And since I think that all bands (at least truly credible ones) should write all their songs 100 % themselves, that bothers me a little. (Not that I'd think that Desmond Child's presence on any BJ song would be any kind of great thing.) But the song is still good. It's an interesting fact that the song wasn't originally going to be on the (single) album, but because of results of a so-called "pizza parlor jury" the song was included.

Rating: ***


Ride Cowboy Ride

Written by: Captain Kidd, King of Swing (JBJ & RS)
Status: Album track

Now, this is something. This song, with its lenght of less than a minute and a half, is Bon Jovi's shortest, and perhaps strangest song. That's because it's recorded in mono with certainly unprofessional soundquality. Why it is done like that, is I think anybody's guess.
This is a little acoustic number (written by Jon and Richie under the names of Captain Kidd and King of Swing) about cowboys. In all honesty, they could have recorded this properly and made it longer, but this song really is a lot of fun and being done like this has never bothered anybody. And why would it? The song is great.

Rating: ***


Stick To Your Guns

Written by: JBJ, RS, Holly Knight
Status: Album track

Another cowboy song which is great, I mean, can anyone ever have enough of them? The sharp contrast of heavier beginning and the calm acoustic riffs that follow it work well throughout the song, and the song is altogether a solid performance. Stick To Your Guns is a really good song. A bit sad though, that there's again another writer contributing on the track, this time Holly Knight. And also the same interesting but meaningless detail of Wild Is The Wind applies here too; the song was only included onto the record after the pizza parlor jury.

Rating: ***


I'll Be There For You

Written by: JBJ, RS
Status: Third single from the album released in April 1989, peaked at #1 in the US, at #18 in the UK

I'll Be There For You was the first real, big Bon Jovi powerballad. This song, that was also a no.1 hit in the US, was the big bang of the Bon Jovi ballad and marked way to many more that would be written in the future.
The song is lyrically that usual love & heartache stuff; a man who has just been dumped vows his eternal love for his woman. The lyrics, that may perhaps be a little cliched, are good anyway and especially the chorus is gripping and effective. The song isn't slow and whiny at all, but has a very rock sound to it which is definietly great.
This was a great live number as well, and on more than one occasion found itself closing the concert in the 1990's.
Jon and Richie certainly knew how to write these kind of songs, they eventually wound up making so many of them and have said that it is like that because they felt that these songs were easy to write for them. The first one is usually always the best one, and I'll Be There For You is certainly one of the best Bon Jovi ballads.
I'll Be There For You is a truly great rock ballad, and no doubt one of the very best they ever did.

Rating: ****


99 In The Shade

Written by: JBJ, RS
Status: Album track (also released as B-side to Bad Medicine)

99 In The Shade is a big feel-good rock'n roll song. It's a definite party song and a big summer song, the best and most fitting occasion to crank this one up is on a beach of endless sand, blue sea and hot sun without a worry on your mind. The song is basically just fantastic rock'n roll, in fact, it's probably one of the finest these kind of rock'n roll songs the band ever did.

Rating: ****


Love For Sale

Written by: JBJ, RS
Status: Album track (also released as B-side to Born To Be My Baby)

The album ends with a bluesy jam that brings Bon Jovi a million miles from Let It Rock. Love For Sale is an excellent acoustic number that shows their virtuosity as acoustic performers for the first time on an album. The song has very good lyrics by Jon and Richie; they are rather clever and funny.
What comes to acoustic songs in general, there are very few of those on Bon Jovi albums, unfortunately. Although the band are fluent acoustic performers - especially Jon and Richie - and have done acoustic shows countless times over the years, there are only three acoustic songs on BJ albums, and they all originate back to New Jersey. It's a bit shame, at least in the mind of a person that once wished they'd do a completely acoustic album.
Anyway, Love For Sale is really good, it's a wonderful, fun jam and also a good closure to the album.

Rating: ****


THE BEST SONG: The best song is Blood On Blood. It's really powerful and impressive instrumentally, it's terrific. The second-best one is Bad Medicine, the ultimate Bon Jovi rock'n roll song; it's very heavy and yet melodic, and fun lyrically. Out of a big amount of great songs some songs that deserve a mention are I'll Be There For You, Lay Your Hands On Me and Living In Sin.

OVERALL: New Jersey is a remarkable album. It's a very complete record with many absolutely terrific songs and hardly any bad songs. It's up to that point their best-written album and altogether a great rock record.
When compared to its phenomenally succesful predecessor Slippery When Wet, New Jersey is a much better album. It's much more complete record than Slippery, it has generally better lyrics and musicanship, better structure, and it has, mainly, better songs.

New Jersey is a very succeeded album all in all. Its tracklisting is left with hardly any complaints. Besides the best song, powerful and memorable Blood On Blood, the album has some fantastic rock'n roll in Lay Your Hands On Me, Bad Medicine and 99 In The Shade. The big rock ballad I'll Be There For You is fantastic, as is for example Living In Sin as well. The two acoustic songs Love For Sale and Ride Cowboy Ride are great (and it's great that there actually are two acoustic songs on the album). The mediocre songs of this album, such as Stick To Your Guns and Born To Be My Baby, are very high quality and better than the mediocre songs on basically all other BJ albums. The standard quality of the album is high and there are very few - if none at all - weak songs.
Lyrically NJ is better than the three albums before it. There's evident progress to the lyrics of SWW, and although the quality of the lyrics would get greater in the 1990's there's no mistaking that the album isn't well-written.

The one really great thing about New Jersey is how well the album plays together. The songs fit very well with each other in exactly that order, which is a great thing, and a thing that neither Slippery When Wet or Keep The Faith could accomplish. The album isn't just a bunch of singles or individual songs, but it has different, various types of songs and they all fit very well in that order forming a really good and well-working entity.

What comes to its flaws, there's very few to find. Perhaps some songs aren't really brilliant or lyrically as good as the songs were to be in the 1990's, but those are only minor flaws considering the high overall quality. However, it is a bit sad that there are outsiders contributing in the writing of five songs in total. Unfortunately it's a bit sad record, and in fact the worst of all credible BJ albums.

Now, this is not a flaw on the album and actually has nothing whatsoever to do with the review, but I may well say it anyway. It's a really sad thing that such a big amount of songs written for this album haven't still been released. There are approximately 15 songs that have remained in the vaults to this day. Fans can find a little comfort for this misfortune from the bootlegs, but some poor sounding demo versions (they really are just demos) of a few songs can never replace releasing all those songs properly and offically. It's such a shame that for example such a wonderful ballad as Now And Forever has never seen the light of day.

But anyway, New Jersey is great. There's no question it and its long tour in 1988-90 were the highpoint of the 1980's for the band.

New Jersey is a big achievement. It's the best pure 100 % rock album the band ever did, and perhaps one of the best rock records I've ever heard. Compared to other music, in my opinion New Jersey holds up very well. I think it's among the 10 best albums of the 1980's. But more importantly, - as there is very little point in comparing BJ music to other music - it is the second-best Bon Jovi album. And that's something.


OVERALL SCORE: 18 OUT OF 20
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  #2  
Old 02-20-2005, 06:43 PM
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Born to be my baby/Stick your guns = Mediocre
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Old 02-20-2005, 07:45 PM
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99ITS and Bad Medicine = Both incredibly overrated by you, Mr Reviewer

Many incredibly underrated, especially BTBMB, Wild Is The Wind and Homebound Train (2 stars? )

Bit of trivia: I always look at RCR and STYG as being one song ... ups the score a little bit
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Old 02-20-2005, 07:46 PM
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No such thing as a good or bad song, to each his own
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Old 02-20-2005, 08:18 PM
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I agree with what you said about the song Living In Sin, but to me the video isn't sloppy. It pretty much just sums up what the song's about.
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Old 02-20-2005, 08:42 PM
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i've ALWAYS preferred the live version of Born to be my baby than the album version the great riff is far more profound when played by Richie, and the live solo always sounds better.

And Bad Medicine sucks ass, id have HB Train, Stick to your guns or even ride cowboy ride before it.


and that was a quite a hefty review by the way, you obv put some effort into it.



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Old 02-20-2005, 09:30 PM
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Couldn't be arsed reading that lot, but NJ is a great album. Just dislike the studio version of Ride Cowboy Ride though. All the other songs rock!
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Old 02-20-2005, 10:01 PM
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whoa that's a long review man.
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Old 02-20-2005, 10:25 PM
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Great job on your review and thank you for posting it! I like to read these types of detailed reviews and I encourage you to keep it up.

Personally, I do not like New Jersey, the album, as much as the average Bon Jovi fans does. I prefer the live version of every song on the album that has ever been done live. I do not have much appreciation for Bad Medicine but I do share your distaste for Born To Be My Baby.

I did always see the album as evidence of the band's maturing and encouraged me to keep on with them as a fan even if the album didn't exactly turn me out so much. Though I didn't get to see them live on that tour, the clips and bits I did get of how they were performing on tour at the time (such as MTV News bits following the tour) showed me they had only gotten better as a live band and were sounding better than ever. There was also the fact that Jon's voice, having begun voice training following the Slippery tour, had improved greatly while becoming more resilent. He was generally outdoing the album performances for just about every song they were doing live. This added to the excitement of being a fan following their progress.
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Old 02-21-2005, 01:44 PM
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openallnight whats the url of your site again?






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