REVIEW: Aldo Nova – Blood on the Bricks (1991)

ALDO NOVA – Blood on the Bricks (1991 Polygram)

After Aldo’s career had been declared clinically dead and Aldo himself a “one hit wonder” (“Fantasy”), it took the mighty Jon Bon Jovi to resurrect him. JBJ, who co-produces and co-writes pretty much every song here, has a heavy stamp on this album. Considering that Aldo played on several Jon Bon Jovi releases, this album will appeal mostly to fans of the Well-Coifed One.

The problem with Blood On The Bricks is not lack of decent material, or lack of chops. Indeed, Aldo proves on several tracks that he is a burnin’ axeman, and he even takes a brief keyboard solo on “Bright Lights”. The problem here is that this album is choked to death in overproduction, and I have to blame JBJ for that. Every song collapses under its own weight of gang “whoa whoa” backing vocals, shrill instruments, and thudding shapeless drums with all the characteristic telltale signs of samples.

A song like “Medicine Man”, for example, is a decent if generic song on its own. However it stumbles under the weight of layers of backing vocals and overdubs. The production has spoiled this batch of pleasant if ordinary rock toons. This type of production value was way too common in 1991. Play Prisoners in Paradise by Europe, or Hey Stoopid by Alice Cooper for an idea of this sonic quality. Aldo’s album is recorded and mixed even worse than the afforementioned. And the lyrics are pretty juvenile. “His boom-box blastin’ some Metallica track”? Did Aldo really sing that?

Song highlights for me incluced the burning title track, “Bright Lights”, and nostalgic moments like “Touch Of Madness”, “Young Love” or “Medicine Man”. However aside from the guitar playing everything here is terribly generic; there’s nothing here that you haven’t heard before.  For example, “Veronica’s Song” boils down to a rewrite of Bon Jovi’s “Silent Night”, and that makes me sad.

Two more Bon Jovi connections to mention:  the great Kenny Aranoff, whom Jon likes to use on his solo projects such as Blaze of Glory, plays drums.   Phil X is pictured in the CD booklet as he was in Aldo’s touring band, but he does not play on Blood on the Bricks.  Phil X, known to his friends as Phil Xenedis, is currently on the road with Bon Jovi, filling in for Richie Sambora.

I do like the original cover, it was cool if a bit bland. This edition has an annoying “FEATURING JON BON JOVI” scrawled all over it, as large as the album title.  That also makes me sad.

3/5 stars

54 comments

  1. Yeah I hear what u say with the gang vocals.if anything it was good to hear some rock out of Nova after that Twitch release..man I got hosed on that one back in time….ugh!
    Than again Nuthin ever really came close to the debut album of his…in my opinion …Subject was alright except for the fact that it was way overproduced and his version of Hey Operator was weak…..but Monkey On My Back was good …I think that’s what it was called….

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    1. Twitch is one of those albums that nobody really remembers fondly, even with nostalgia. I have an Aldo collection…Anthology maybe? That does the trick for me. And yeah Monkey On My Back was the name I think.

      Tomorrow you will see some more Canadian content (in a way)

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  2. Twitch was a brilliant album. And so were Subject and his self titled debut. I like this too, but as you wrote, it’s overproduced and even though I like the songs, this is not an Aldo Nova album, this is a Jon Bon Jovi feat. Aldo Nova album which kinda makes the new edition with the “Featuring Jon Bon Jovi” all over the cover correct. But I agree, it’s sad that it has to be there.
    It’s really weird how different we see things in different countries. I know that Aldo’s Canadian and maybe that has something to do with it, but in Sweden, Twitch and Subject are Aldo Nova’s biggest efforts.
    I can also tell you that Aldo Nova seems to be somewhat of a douche. He was booked to play Sweden Rock Festival this summer, but after he got his booking fee, he cancelled due to, as he said, illness, but promised to play 2014 instead, but since then he has gone underground and he refuses to communicate with SRF. Which means he pretty much just stole the money. Let’s just guess that Aldo Nova won’t ever play SRF after that. Very stupid of him as SRF is a big festival and many bands had gotten a new start with that festival, as strange as it might sound when you think about what a small country Sweden is.

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    1. I hope he plays 2014 because otherwise you are right, that is a douchey move.

      I’m frankly impressed Jon that you know so much English slang. “douche” and so forth! I tip my hat to you.

      Aldo must make enough money on his own. He writes so many hit songs for Celine Dion and lord knows how many albums she sells. Gazillions. He’s written many of her biggest hits.

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      1. Oh he won’t. SRF won’t have him. He kinda burned his ships there. Too bad, I would have loved to watch a gig with him.

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    2. He came thru Tbay about a yr and a half ago and was charging $35 bucks in a bar I passed…would have paid $20 but no more..like c’mon man!

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        1. Bryan got really mediocre (in my opinion) with Waking Up the Neighbors. Yes you can’t argue with sales numbers of that magnitude, but musically that spark was gone for me. There were a couple songs I liked such as Thought I Died and Gone To Heaven, but all the radio seemed to repeat was Can’t Stop This Thing We Started which is, let’s face it, really just a Shania Twain song.

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        2. Agreed!
          About 10 years ago, I made a mixed CD of Adams music, which, realising it now, mostly was from the Reckless album. I hardly ever listen to the radio any more (had Sirius for 2 years but cancelled). Seriously, I think the radio did nothing for Adams music career except annoy people!

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        3. Yeah very possibly. A lot of people forget some of his lesser played songs, but don’t want to know about them either. Into the Fire for example. Awesome some and the solo electric version that he did on the Live Live Live album was incredible. That’s the one they did the music video for.

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        4. Whoa, I beg to differ here. Waking Up the Neighbours was awesome. Shania Twain wasn’t even invented by then…
          If anything, WUTN sounds like Def Leppard with Adams as the vocalist. And in my opinion, Twain sounded like a country Leppard with a female voice. I guess Mutt Lange was plenty more than just a producer an co-writer for both Leppard, Adams and that country bird he was shagging.
          Kinda funny that he went straight back to rock as soon as he got divorced from Twain, doing that Nickelback album.
          Whipped much, Lange? ;-)

          Also, I could use an explenation for CanCon…

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        5. Well, Shania was invented in a way…I know because one of my bosses dated her in the 80’s! True.

          What I say I say with hindsight of course. I can only hear Shania when I hear Bryan these days. And Mutt has always been a country fan — Love Bites was written by Mutt as a country song. “When you make love…” with a twang at the end. Can you picture it?

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        6. Jon, I added that link there, and then got to thinking you’d maybe already sorted that stuf out for yourself. If so, I didn’t mean to be insulting or redundant. I just went with what you’d said “Also, I could use an explenation for CanCon…” :)

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        7. isaac, no offense taken, quite the contrary. I hade no clue of what CanCon was, so thanks for the link. :-)

          Mike, I’m with you with the Adams – Twain thing, I just don’t think it was with WUTN that happened, but with the mediocre album he released after that, I think it was called 21 Til I Die or something like that. He never recovered from that, in my opinion. And yes, I can imagine Love Bites being a country tune, now that you mention it.

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        8. Close! It was 18 Til I Die. And that was really, really a mistep if you asked me. “I Wanna Be Your Underwear”? Sorry that’s not even close to good.

          In my store, that was a bit of a flop and surprisingly so. He had a pretty big hit with Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman, from the Don Juan DeMarco soundtrack, and I fully expected this album to be better and do better than it did.

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  3. Never heard a note, although I’m pretty sure a friend of mine’s wife photographed him for a magazine article about 10 years ago – I’ll see if I can find a link.

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  4. I have the first two Aldo Nova albums on vinyl, and when I’m in the right mood I really enjoy them. Not sure I need to hear this one, though. To me, the words “Featuring Jon Bon Jovi” are enough to make me run screaming in the opposite direction. Sorry I can’t agree with your “mighty” comment, but that would apply to any discussion of Kenny Aronoff, who’s been a big influence on my own drumming for the last 30+ years. I think he may be my 2nd favorite bald drummer, behind Phil Collins of course.

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    1. Way back in the mists of time, I was in a band. Our guitar player (really a remarkable talent) told me he thought I played like Kenny Aronoff. I took this to be the highest compliment. As for Mr. Collins, perhaps you could separate bald drummers between right and left-handed…

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        1. The kids will grow up & the ability never goes away. You’ll just have to suffer through a few weeks (or months) of playing like crap before your chops return. I’m fortunate in that I have no kids and my wife actually loves hearing me play, so I do that as often as I can. When I broke my wrist on a tennis court a few years ago & couldn’t play for 3 months it confirmed that I need to play as long as I’m physically able to. I hope you get back to it soon. The world needs more drummers with good taste in music.

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        2. Indeed, thanks! I do hope to get back into it. I find myself drumming on everything, with pens, fingers, straws, whatever… The itch is definitely still there. Actually, as they grow (they are 4 and 2 years old right now), I wanna get the kids into it too. We can all take a turn!

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    2. The “mighty” comment I meant in a commercial sense. I don’t think this album would have been released on a major without Jon’s push. He’d had such success with other bands he helped like Cinderella and Skid Row, why not Aldo I guess?

      I have heard good news about Phil Collins. He wants to get back to fronting Genesis. He cannot play drums anymore due to his spinal injury but he wants to sing with Genesis again. That is something I didn’t expect.

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  5. Another one of which I know nothing. Another reward of coming to Lebrain. Have to say that the JBJ connection doesn’t do much for me currently, though there was a day when I might have cared more. I recently played the Young Guns soundtrack again and was shocked I knew every word, every note. Clearly i spent more time with that album than I’d credited.

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    1. I’m going to have to listen to Young Guns again. I really liked it back in the day and I can’t imagine that changing too much. Aldo played on just about every track on that album.

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      1. I think it’s a great album. It’s a pop album that pretty much shows how Bon Jovi would have sounded had JBJ recruiteda less hard rocking guitarist than Sambora. But a great pop album.
        Also, I know that Aldo Nova played on Runaway. It’s either him or Tim Pierce who plays the solo. I think it sounds like Nova, but I’m not sure. It’s the only song on Bon Jovi’s debut that doesn’t festure any of the Bon Jovi members as it was recorded before JBJ had a band.

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        1. I think Tim Pierce played the actual solo but you’re right. We may have discussed this before but I have a CD of his Powerstation Years, pre-Bon Jovi, and he was writing some good songs back then too. I know he finds them embarrassing today, I don’t get why though.

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        2. Yes, I own the Powerstation Years too. The songs on that album really puts everything he has written after These Days to shame, with the exception of the odd song or two.

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  6. JBJ wants to be Mellancamp now that’s why he’s embarrassed …last album I bought from Jovi was These Days I perfer to call it Those Were The Days….

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    1. I did buy The Circle. It was OK. Work for the Working Man was a good song. I don’t recall any of the others. I wrote a review a while ago (when it came out) but I won’t re-post it here. I’d have to listen to the album again, it’s been years. I remember liking the DVD that came with it, but bring struck by the bluntless of the members: “It’s Jon’s show. He’s the boss. We’re the employees.”

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      1. I remember when they released The Circle and they were all ranting in the press about how much they rocked again yada yada, but when the album came it out it was the same boring mainstream radio crap they have played the last 15 years or so. Yes, a little more guitars on top of it, but that hardly makes a rock album.

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  7. I remember reading about the hired guns as far back as 89 in Rolling Stone ..man that was A drag when I read that..blew the whole we are one band philospy right out the window for me..
    Still the Jersey Tour was a good show to see but that was the only time I seen em live….

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    1. When he’s up there with Richie Sambora, and another backing guitar player, I ask myself if this is a rock band, or a rock show? I don’t think it’s a rock band. Maybe it never was.

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    1. I actually believe that they were a real band at first, for a few years. I think all that changed when JBJ had a huge seller with his Blaze Of Glory album. Up until then he was all about ssaying that Bon Jovi was a band and all the members mattered equally. I guess he realized that he could sell shitloads of albums without the band.

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      1. Jon could have taken the band a couple different ways. He chose to be the main star, but he could have chosen to go more a Jagger/Richards route with Richie. Here he had one of the most talented singers/guitarists in rock, and one of the most recognizable as well. And he’s not even touring with him right now. Ridiculous.

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    1. I remember there was some bad blood between Jon and Richie during the New Jersey tour and there was even talk of Richie leaving the band, so I guess you’re right. But from the debut 1984 to N.J. album in 1988, I know that especially Jon was talking about how much oif a band Bon Jovi really were. Maybe he was just wanted Bon Jovi to look like band, but the reality was something else.

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      1. I remember reading similar things Jon. In fact the New Jersey band photos — Jon purposely chose pictures that did not show his full face. He did that to give the other guys some face time, which is fine, but that changed pretty quickly afterwards.

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  8. JBJ really gets around these days. Last year he penned a tune with Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys release. I have to agree that his self-promotion is a bit obnoxious. A small print reference would suffice!

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