“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING. Thanks Sarca!
It’s the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS! This week we will be looking at a collection of malodorous music. Strike a match, you’ll need it for these stinkers!
For a “drunk review” of this same album by Aaron over at the KMA, click here!
Like the gambler, I lay my cards on the table: Richie Sambora was a critical component of Bon Jovi, perhaps as important as their leader. That’s the way we see it here at LeBrain HQ. A Bon Jovi without Sambora is a far less interesting animal. Still, we do have a responsibility to listen to their first post-Richie album, Burning Bridges, with open ears and report back with accuracy. So let us begin.
Burning Bridges is a set of unreleased and new songs, and also their last record with Mercury. By calling it a gift to the fans and not considering it a “real” album, the pressure was off. Producer/co-writer John Shanks handles guitar duties with Jon Bon Jovi on acoustic. Billy Falcon also co-wrote a number of tracks, and there’s even one lone Richie co-write.
Things begin slowly on “A Teardrop to the Sea” but there is a dark edge to it that is appealing and reminiscent of the underrated These Days album. I question the wisdom of opening an album wish such a slow number but it does make a strong first impression. It is sparsely arranged yet powerful, and with or without Richie it sounds like Bon Jovi. All it needs is one of his bluesy, soulful solos…alas. Shanks does his best to imitate the axeman. “We Don’t Run”, the single, starts off well but then it descends into another glossy, overproduced digital mess with another imitation Richie solo. Potential wasted.
Sambora co-wrote “Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning” but it’s just paint-by-numbers Pop Jovi. You can predict the hooks coming, although you gotta give credit to the talent of Tico Torres for throwing in some cool drum beats. Pop Jovi strums the acoustics again on “We All Fall Down”, a ballad completely interchangeable with similar ones on any Bon Jovi album over the last decade. Ditto, “Blind Love”. It’s like Kleenex: You pull one out, and an identical tissue takes its place! Pop Jovi continues balladeering on “Who Would You Die For”. It does have a dark and low key These Days kind of vibe, but the slick production and programming are completely unnecessary. I’d give the song a C though rather than a D or lower, because it’s dramatic enough, crap production aside.
Unplugged “Fingerprints” is horrid, flaccid and flatulent for its entire six minute length. Lyrically, at this point I’m convinced that Jon is just writing down the first things that come to his mind. “I gave you my fingerprints, guilty or innocent,” he sings with false passion. More woah-oh-oh singing commences on the nauseatingly contrived “Life is Beautiful”, clearly a leftover from Bon Jovi’s new country period (Lost Highway). The crapslide continues with “I’m Your Man”, upbeat at least but without a spine. Finally we have “Burning Bridges”, the song Jon wrote about leaving Mercury, and it’s actually the best song on the album! Yes, it’s country, but it sounds more or less like a jam, without the annoying production. The lyrics are pretty hilarious and are by far the most interesting ones on the album. It’s pretty obvious what it’s about so if you want a taste of the music industry from Jon’s perspective, give it a listen:
“After 30 years of loyalty,
They let you dig the grave,
Now maybe you could learn to sing,
Or even strum along, I’ll give you half the publishing,
You’re why I wrote this song.”
Ooft! Elsewhere he invites them to play this song in hell! A bitter end indeed.
Burning Bridges is an unnecessary album to own. It’s bookended by two decent songs, with the last being the only one that I would consider for a mix tape. The “real” new Bon Jovi album, This House is Not for Sale, comes out this spring. Perhaps with new guitarist Phil X (formerly of Triumph) in the mix, some chemistry will finally return.
1. “A Teardrop to the Sea”
2. “We Don’t Run”
3. “Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning”
4. “We All Fall Down”
5. “Blind Love”
6. “Who Would You Die For”
8. “Life Is Beautiful”
9. “I’m Your Man”
10. “Burning Bridges”