REVIEW: Bon Jovi – Greatest Hits: The Ultimate Collection (2 CD)

Part 1 of a 2 part Bon Jovi series.

ULTIMATE BJ_0001BON JOVI – Greatest Hits: The Ultimate Collection (2 CD)

I guess Bon Jovi were due for a new “hits” CD. Crossroads, after all, was 16 years old at that time, and Tokyo Road was only made available in Japan. Ultimate Collection isn’t the ultimate collection that I would have put out.  If you’re going to do two CDs, you have room for great also-rans like “Last Cigarette” and “Something For The Pain”.  Still, it’s not a bad Bon Jovi collection. Listening to it front-to-back, I was pleasantly reminded of all these hits, and man, Bon Jovi had a lot of hits. From early stuff like “Runaway” to the New Jersey classics such as “Born To Be My Baby”, to the newbies like “Have A Nice Day”, this has pretty much all the key Bon Jovi radio hits. Unfortunatly, you’re going to miss out on second-rung hits like “Dry County” and “Joey” but for the uninitiated, or those who just want a good sized Bon Jovi collection, this is the place to go.  I think it’s important to explore albums such as New Jersey (the review of which is Part 2 in this series) and Keep the Faith, as well as hits.

Almost every Bon Jovi album has hits included here, right up to The Circle. The song flow is excellent, hitting you with hit after hit after hit, landmark ballads sprinkled in between. And I give credit for the inclusion of “Blood On Blood”, a song that was never a single but has been a huge concert favourite due to its real life story of JBJ’s childhood. Not to mention it’s just a great song.

ULTIMATE BJ_0003The four new songs create feelings of moderate indifference to great dislike. “What Do You Got?” is another trademark Bon Jovi ballad, certainly nothing special, outshined to a great degree by all the other tunes here. It’s easily forgettable and feels tacked-on as an afterthought. But two of these new songs — “No Apologies” and “The More Things Change” are just awful songs. Cheesy, contrived, choose whatever words you like, they’re juvenile and awful and really don’t fit in among the classier hits. To me these are B-sides and perhaps should have been held back as B-sides.  Or just deleted completely.

Packaging is not the greatest. There are full songwriting and production credits, but they are arranged in such a way as to make finding information difficult. Performance credits are even harder to find — I couldn’t find bassists Hugh McDonald or Alec John Such’s names anywhere in the credits, and their pictures are also not included. There are a few more recent photos of the main four guys. No liner notes.

On the whole, despite the fact that I don’t really like the four new songs, I don’t regret this purchase. It’s going to be a great road CD. It is a good way to hear tunes like “We Weren’t Born To Follow” without listening to the album it came from, which I wasn’t too keen on. So, no regrets. I think most fans will like the album, they might even like the new songs.  Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom enjoyed it in the car and commented that she knew many of the songs.  Newcomers would be wise to pick this up as it has a great hit-per disc ratio!

3/5 stars

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58 comments

  1. Another great review Mike!

    I only own one Bon Jovi CD: Crossroads. I’ll be honest, that serves my Jovi needs well enough. I have toyed with the idea of digging through the albums but (as petty as this sounds….) I watched a documentary about the “band” a couple of years ago wherein JBJ essentially says this is a company, I am the chairman and this is all business. It kinda takes the soul of it for me. So all I figure I need is the hits and that’ll do nicely.

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    1. Hey John, I know that doc. When We Were Beautiful, it’s called. All the guys admit that they are employees in Jon’s business and Jon calls the shots, and Jon likes to write hits. That’s what I got from it!

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      1. That’s the one! I’m not an idiot: I get that it is the music BUSINESS but I felt so depressed (if that’s not too extreme a word!) after watching that doc. I’m not after bands to take a load of drugs and sleep their way through the female population but I would like to *think* that there is some sort of band of brothers type vibe going on…. even if only just a little bit. I was also angry for some weird reason. Here was a guy that had thousands of people dissect lyrics and music and pay money for an experience that they feel is real: a connection that can help them through tough times and dark days. And it all feels (to me) fake and artificially constructed.

        I’m not knocking the output of Bon Jovi in their heyday, they knew how to write AMAZING rock tunes. They have a body of work (well…. up to Keep The Faith perhaps) that they can be rightly proud of.

        But for me, it’s a soulless, corporate entity now. That saddens me I think.

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        1. I get it, and you as well. There was one thing Jon said, about Bon Jovi being a business, and there being dozens of employees that count on his leadership to bring home the bacon every year. I get that.

          I think you can still make great albums in an environment like that, but I also think Jon has not made a great album in over a decade…KTF is one we can agree on there.

          It’s too bad because Bon Jovi were very, very good at what they did.

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        2. Indeed. I often have to remind certain Metallica fans who bitch about another summer tour, that they have employees to think about etc. But at the same time you can still be a “band”, ya know?

          You’ve hit the nail on the head there for me rally – had JBJ been putting out stellar albums since KTF then I probably would have been less bothered by the “business” stuff. But as you say, he hasn’t so it all smacks of corporate boredom now.

          They were amazing at what they did. That’s the problem with greatest hits packages….. it reminds you how the might have fallen.

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        3. As a nice contrast the next Bon Jovi review is arguably their best album…I wanted to talk about this band at their best as well! Jon may be the owner of the corporation but back in the 80’s it seemed like a band (as you said) and the music showed it.

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  2. I bought Crossroads as well back in the day….no need for this set and u know my deal on these greatest hits things……Jon Bon has taken a once credible rock act..I mean he survived the grunge hurricane circa 92 and put a pretty decent album (KTF) and well he’s pulled a Skipper and steered the Minnow into Gilligans Island essentially this band is a joke now…..

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        1. And I’d definitely want leg or something like that. No upper torso for me, I’m too afraid that all that hairspray will have saturated the meat, ya know, and I’m trying to survive here after all, not get taken down by 30 years of chemicals.

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  3. Cool man……look forward to it…..hahahaha……
    I remember reading a article don on Bon Jovi when they were the cover act on Rolling Stone back in 89 and it was written in that article that those guys were salaried and I was like ugggggh but at the time it was well they act as a band so well if it works than so be it..but man Jon’s destroyed any credibility I had with em …have not bought anything since Bounce and no need to ….
    Gotta head to work..have a good day fellas!

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    1. I liked Bounce (it was on KMA recently), especially the heavier guitars.

      Was driving in the car with a buddy last weekend and Living On A Prayer was on the satellite radio and he said Sambora’s not in the band anymore? And it’s because he’s not getting ENOUGH money? I can’t even wrap my head around this.

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        1. Sure, but I don’t recall anyone mentioning money in this. Jon implied Richie’s got personal and drug issues, Richie implied that it’s more personal between those two. Rumour has it that in recent years Jon’s been verbally abusive and Richie’s said enough is enough.

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        2. Yeah a personal thing about Jon not giving him enough money!!

          ;)
          Kidding. I really don’t know, just felt like a necessarily easy cheap shot.

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        3. Well, neither of them have categorically stated that it’s not about money (that I know of). I just doubt it somehow. By sitting out the tour I’m sure Richie elected to forfeit some earnings this year…

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        4. Or maybe it’s ‘personal,’ as in bromance turned sour (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

          Ooo that shot was cheaper, wasn’t it. But since all we have is conjecture, it could be anything. Anything at all.

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        5. mikeladano :
          Sure, but I don’t recall anyone mentioning money in this. Jon implied Richie’s got personal and drug issues, Richie implied that it’s more personal between those two. Rumour has it that in recent years Jon’s been verbally abusive and Richie’s said enough is enough.
          </bl

          Yeah I think I read something to that effect in Classic Rock mag. Richie went to rehab and when he got out said, he didn't want to do it anymore. Always felt like he was kinda the musical heart and soul in the band and Jon was the face and de facto leader. Never been a big Jovi fan but even that seems at least obvious maybe I'm wrong.

          When it's your name on the covers you get to be the boss. No matter what the cost.

          I make rhymes.

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      1. Nope not too much snow this week just a sprinkle..I think the eastern seaboard got slammed……we have had enough..that 25-30 cm 17 hr snow dump a few weeks back did the whole city in…..

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  4. I was Googling “ultimate bj” this morning, and it led me here… ;)

    Haha sorry Dude, actually it wasn’t in the top 5 pages of Google search. I stopped clicking then because I can’t have the Googles thinking I’m a perv, after all…

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  5. You know, I looked at the track listing (above) and recognized about half of the songs (all the old ones, mainly). And I might represent a good chunk of people who even think about Bon Jovi at any point in their technology-addled, self-absorbed days… a collection like this is nice enough, in and of itself, but is it essential? Not really. But as you said, it’s a good way to get the hits without having to buy all the albums. I don’t even own all the albums myself (just the Young Guns CD for pure nostalgia, and the copy of Bounce I got from you) and I still think why bother with this? Even I know that this band’s deep cuts were often better than their hits. Road CD? Maybe. But I’ll bet that if you sat down and made a 2 CD-R collection of the Bon Jovi song YOU wanted to hear in the car (and not just with trying to collect the hits in mind) it’d be a very different collection of songs. Something like this is good for the tourists. The ones who can’t fit into their high school jeans anymore.

    Not even sure if that’s coherent. I need coffee.

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    1. Young Guns is a review I’m DYING to do. I love that album. It wasn’t always easy to love, some of that stuff is pretty cheesey but I do love it!

      I’m also hoping to find the track list that I made for my Bon Jovi disc that I did make.

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        1. Oh man, cassette singles. I still have some of mine. The fave is still Coleman Wilde’s It Doesn’t Matter. Remember that tune? I think it was in an ad for something. I loved that song, as a kid. I even remember I got the cassette single at Masonville in London. Wow. I can’t tell you anything important, most days, but I can tell you THAT.

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  6. The tracklist doesn’t look radically different from Cross Road (a compilation I quite like) – that album was an exemplar for how to tack on a couple new songs. ‘Always’ of course was a smash but the one I enjoyed more was Someday I’ll be Saturday night. The new ones here, sounds like there are twice as many but they’re only half as good, at best.

    Speaking of borrowing vocab, I think I’ll be incorporating the term ‘also-ran’ into a post asap!

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  7. My only Bon Jovi: Slippery When Wet….on cassette! FTW, yo! (It was a b-day present from someone…back in 1987 when I was stuck on Duran Duran). They’re another one in heavy rotation on Q107…

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    1. So did you like Slippery When Wet even though it collided with your Duran Duran days?

      By the way…in case you missed the discussion in the Gilby Clarke thread…I’ll be reviewing a Duran Duran side project soon, John Taylor’s Neurotic Outsiders.

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      1. Can’t say that I really did appreciate Slippery When Wet except for the hits played on the radio…we used to laugh as kids at “Love is a social disease,” with the ooing and ahhing. lol

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