REVIEW: Bon Jovi – “Because We Can” (2013 Japanese single)

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BON JOVI – “Because We Can” (2013 Island Records Japanese single)

There was a time I used to look forward to new releases by Bon Jovi.  It’s been a long time since I felt that way.  I thought the band bounced back (pun intended) with 2002’s Bounce, then they lost me immediately again with This Left Feels Right.  I don’t like to give up on bands that I used to feel strongly about, so I decided to check out Bon Jovi’s newest single, “Because We Can”.

I chose the Japanese single as it had one more track than the European.  I had not even heard the song yet.  It is written by Jon, Richie and songsmith Billy Falcon, produced by Jon and John Shanks.  (In other words, more of the same…)  The single came with a small 6-panel fold out poster and lyric booklet in English and Japanese.

The light glare completely erased Dave Bryan from this photo!

The light glare completely erased Dave Bryan from this photo!

Like many fans who have been hanging on long past Bon Jovi’s best before date, I found the song disappointing.  Rather than growing, it sounds like Bon Jovi are returning to the mainstream modern pop sounds of Have A Nice Day or even Lost Highway.  Bon Jovi’s never been the hardest rocking band, but they have written some great passionate rock songs in the past.  “Because We Can”, by title alone, should be in your face and proud of it.  Instead, it’s another faceless Pop Jovi song.  I’m going to write my own Pop Jovi song called “Who Says We Ain’t Strangers Tonight Because We Got It Goin’ On”.

I hate the chorus, it would be embarrassing to be caught singing this one.  There are some nice guitar licks flitting here and there, almost Brian May-like in sound, but barely audible.  Everything is buried under a thick blanket of backing vocals, plastic drums and electronic sounds.  You can barely make out Richie’s voice, and what passes for a guitar solo is really just a layered guitar melody.  At least the Japanese single comes with an instrumental version, which will allow you to hear Richie’s simple and sparing guitar.

The third and final track is a 7 minute live version of “Keep the Faith”, from 2010 in New Jersey.  Even this is slightly more laid back than the original 1992 version.  But at least it shows that Bon Jovi can write and play challenging material while keeping it accessible.   From the manic drum patterns to Richie’s smokin’ solo, this live version is everything that “Because We Can” should be.  Richie really shines on this track; I hope he comes back.  Bon Jovi without Richie ain’t Bon Jovi.

Based on this single, I won’t be buying the new album What About Now unless I find it cheap.

1.5/5 stars

47 comments

  1. I felt like you do about keeping the faith (urgh) with Bon Jovi but I’ve given up now. I think The Circle may prove to be that last new Bon Jovi music I buy unless they bring out archive stuff or really turn things around. Agree about Bounce too, I really enjoyed that one.

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    1. I’ll review Bounce soon, I have loads of rarities from that period, EP’s and Russian imports and all kinds of stuff.

      My wife bought me The Circle. It had some good tunes, I thought “Work for the Working Man” and the single were good. Jon has had so much success and at this point, he’s a smart businessman workaholic and I’m sure he loves what he’s doing. Sadly I no longer do.

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        1. That was intentional :) That would be cool.

          Don’t know what’s up with Richie, I am sure they will patch up their differences, but maybe Tom Keifer should fill in :)

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  2. The light glare in the band photo above, not only rendered David Bryan invisible, it also negated The Bass Player Who Is Not Acknowledged, oh wait, he’s not in the pic?! How long has that guy been on the JBJ payroll and he still is photographed as a part of the band?!?!?

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    1. Thank you for mentioning that! Hugh McDonald! Only been with them for almost 20 years! Heck he even played on the very first Bon Jovi song ever, Runaway.

      This bugs me almost as much as Daryl Jones with the Rolling Stones.

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  3. Bon Jovi of 2013 is a joke. And have been for many, many years now. With Sambora now gone, the little rock that was left in them will be completely gone with Sambora.
    John Shanks and Billy Falcon are Satan! Everything hit shit creek when they arrived. Btw, I used to be a huge Bon Jovi fan as well.

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  4. What is strange about today’s JBJ is his attempt at all these sturdy, “everyman” lyrics and songs. I mean, it all rings a little hollow from a guy who has enjoyed a life of pampered luxury for a LONG time now. JBJ sounds like he wishes he was passionate about the subject matter, but he seems to be phoning it in, hoping people will think he is like a younger, cooler Bruce Springsteen, albeit with a blow-dried coiff, pearly whites, and custom tailored boot-fit jeans. I don’t begrudge JBJ for his success, it just seems like he is on auto-pilot now.

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    1. Yeah it does seem that way. Granted he is now the CEO of a corporation and he has a lot of people depending on his success to be paid, and I’m sure that weighs on some minds.

      Lyrically it never bugged me too much, lots of great artists can sing songs about heartbreak even though they’ve been married three decades. If this was up to snuff musically it would be a different story. Songs like Dry County and Keep the Faith really pushed their limits successfully.

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      1. Totally agree, it does seem like the new(er) music produced by JBJ does lack bite and conviction. If the lyrics were grafted onto some killer tunes, I would be very happy!

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  5. Not sure about Richie’s latest solo disc, but I think I need to go dig out “Stranger In This Town”. As usual, you send me back into the banker’s boxes to dig out another long-lost classic!

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    1. The funny thing I was thinking of reviewing that one soon as I really used to be into it, and I have the box set version with the necklace and bonus CD. It’s not seen too often so visually it’s great.

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  6. I have no interest in this as well,mind you I have had no interest since Keep The Faith 21 yrs ago!
    I dunno what happened I think Jon thought he could become Mellancamp or Springsteen to the point of saying”hey I got something important to say”.
    For me it’s just like naaa I will pass,but I did buy Bounce and that was the last purchase for me.
    The thing started going south for me far back as 89 when I read in Rolling Stone that the boys were all salaried employees of Jon….don’t make it seem like a band when it ain’t,I guess it’s finally starting to show….24 yrs later….

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    1. Yeah. I mean they’re salaried, lots of bands work that way…Jon was the founder and the Richie was the last guy in. No big deal. But back then it seemed like Jon was actively trying to make Richie a star along with him. Richie was second banana, but was such an awesome musical contributor. Now it seems more and more like it’s the Jon show, and direction-wise, he wants to have hits. Which is fine. Just not my cup of tea. I lost interest in Bryan Adams and Journey too.

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    1. Yes! Shanks and Billy Falcon are both Satan :)

      Yeah the Shanks name scared me on VH. I’m like, “OK…the Kelly Clarkson / new country / Backstreet Boys guy? OK then. I am sure DLR had a lot to do with that decision since he is such a huge fan of modern pop and R&B.

      But it worked!

      With this…Jon maybe should have pulled a Tateryche. Maybe he should have said, “Let’s remix ‘er, boys. This sucks. Back to the drawing board!”

      There should be a new challenge: someone has to namedrop Tateryche in every conversation on this blog.

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  7. Who knows some solid rock releases in the past yr..Halen,Kiss,,ZZ and some duds…Aero and Jovi….
    Here’s hoping for,Sabbath!

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  8. Yeah I read that also. A girl I work with seen em in Winnipeg a week ago and she has no idea who Phil x is so I asked her “hey how was the fill in for Sambora?” She said he was non existsant and that the backing vocals weren’t the same ……
    No surprise there….

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  9. For sure and a hired bass player for the last 20. Yrs or so whose not allowed in band pics and just stands on stage in one spot!
    Sad!

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  10. Yeah I heard that two,man that must have sucked for Such,but than again he hung around for a lot of the peak yrs…there’s a interview floating around from 1994 or so on line where he talks about getting the hoof from the band and how he says he got tired of being called Suck by the band….or by one guy it seems……

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  11. If u go to Topix and search Alec John such some dude down in the comments posted the interview from 1994 or so..interesting read…..

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  12. Yeah the machine keeps turning…Such gets the boot,Sambora has stuff going on twice ,he gets replaced and the show must go on I guess….I can see his point about not cancelling but if I had a ticket I’d be bummed,no disrespect to Phil X talented guy I mean he tried pulling Triumph out of the dregs but still he ain’t the co writer/singer…….

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  13. And the fact that Jon tried stopping the interview from getting printed ,c’mon man your putting a gag order on a grown adult…..Napoleon comes to mind…

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    1. This seems to be so common in rock. I don’t know why! David Lee Roth didn’t let Steve Vai do interviews. Geoff Tate didn’t let the other 3 guys do interviews. Weird.

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  14. Judging by the number of comments/replies, one thing is true: love it/him or hate it/him, the new Bon Jovi disc/single did get people talking/thinking/opining!!!

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    1. I think with Sambora in flux, this is a common state of affairs around the web! Phil X is filling in again, and he is great, but Richie is Richie and no Richie = no band as far as I am concerned. Without him it’s a solo thing.

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