Welcome to BOOBSFARTSWINKYSAND808S day three. The idea behind this little collection of scuzzy fuzzy alternative sounds from established acts is supposed to work like a mix tape. One Afghan Whigs song blends into a track by The Cult. It’s obvious where we’re going from here right? The themes so far are, gothic, industrial, nu blooze, near dark bible belt sinners songs. Bon Jovi is the left turn that feels right at this juncture.
Yes. Bon Jovi. You heard.
MTV freaked out when JBJ cut his hair to promote Keep the Faith. The band ditched their big glossy pop rock sound (did they though?) and they reinvented themselves as home grown down home road dogs with the blues and soul of a biker gang. As impressive as the semi unplugged MTV live special for Keep the Faith was and as ambitious as Sambora’s career highlight epic soloing on Dry County got, it was really still just pop rock.
CD’s had taken over from vinyl in the formatting wars and digital was replacing analogue in more ways than just on the shelves of Tower Records. Thus hidden away on various formats (but not all of them) was the real limit of Bon Jovi’s make over. They’d seen how far they could push this new thing they were trying out and settled for a 60/40 reinvention.
I know not everyone is going to consider Save a Prayer as Bon Jovi’s high water mark. It’s not what they’re most famous for. And they didn’t stick around the neighbourhood for long once it was out there. Save a Prayer is my favourite Bon Jovi song however because it showed a real promise where the band and their approach were just as important as Jon, his song and the commercial potential afoot.
This song starts off like a modern gospel blues number, then it shudders into a very modern sounding rock sound (for 1992 that is). There’s real twists and turns in the percussion, open and looser than the usual Tico Torres groove. Sambora’s guitar and the fx board have some new settings too. There’s some modernism in the layers of who is doing what while it plays.
Bon Jovi were very good at what they did and prior to this what they did was massive 80’s pop rock for The Pizza Parlour Jury. After their Best of album Cross Roads and the creative death knell that was Always, it meant they became so fucking huge they never needed to try again the game was up. Had it gone slightly different they may have evolved into a different kind of band. One that might have helped rock evolve a little.