The original title for this chapter was “My Sister, Age, and How Things Change”. It was originally Chapter 8.
RECORD STORE TALES #1045: The Lost Chapters: Doctor Kathryn
My sister had some distinct musical phases. Early on, she decided that she was going to like most of the music that I liked. At first that meant Quiet Riot, Kiss, and Motley Crue. Motley Crue was her favourite, but not for the right reasons. They were her favourite because a) Nikki and Tommy were really tall, and b) they both had spikey hair.
There was further evidence that my sister was bordering on wimp territory. One was that she didn’t like W.A.S.P. In fact she hated W.A.S.P. I’m not sure if it was Blackie Lawless’ voice, or if it was the fact that he drank “blood” from a “human skull”. Either way, I liked W.A.S.P. a lot, and if she didn’t like them too, this demonstrated an unhealthy streak of independence.
Then, the proverbial shit hit the fan. (We didn’t have air conditioning back then, just fans.) One day in 1985, she decided that she liked The Pointer Sisters. And Cyndi Lauper. And Corey Hart. She always liked Bryan Adams, but I forgave her this. Bryan wore jeans and T-shirts, so he was still firmly in rock territory, even if he wasn’t heavy metal. (I didn’t find out for a while yet that Bryan did in fact have some metallic roots. He wrote several songs with Kiss, including the heaviest material on the Creatures Of The Night album.) The music that Kathryn liked was incorrectly labelled by us as “New Wave”. We didn’t know that New Wave was a term usually used for bands like Blondie, Devo, or the Talking Heads. We just assumed all crappy pop music with synthesizers was New Wave. And New Wave was bad. Very very bad.
Back then, life was simple. Life was black and white. Whatever MuchMusic’s “Power Hour” played was good. Everything else was bad. The only exceptions to that that rule were Kim Mitchell and Bryan Adams. I’m not sure why Kim was an exception, except that he and long hair, and that I liked him, and so did the next door neighbour. If you wanted to boil it down further, stuff with guitars was good. Stuff with keyboards was bad. And the stuff Kathryn listened to didn’t have any guitars, just lots of keyboards, fake synth drums and people with really silly clothes and hair.
There were a few exceptions. I had never known a Van Halen without keyboards, so I accepted them. They were clearly a heavy metal band. The Power Hour played them all the time, David Lee Roth had wicked hair, and everybody was talking about that guitar player. Even if I didn’t know the difference between a guitar and a bass, and thought that Michael Anthony was in fact Eddie Van Halen, I decided that Van Halen were cool. You were allowed to like them. Eventually I sneaked ZZ Top into the list of music that was allowed as well, because one of the neighbours said they were like Van Halen.
So if the music Kathryn liked was bad, and the music I liked was good, you can imagine the arguments. They were glorious and often ended in physical injury and/or destruction of property, and not just by me.
Her awful taste in music even held back my own progress. She liked Bon Jovi first, therefore I had to dislike Bon Jovi—until they released that damned “Wanted: Dead Or Alive” song. The song was so good, so undeniable, I had to let Bon Jovi into my life. I still think it’s a fantastic song, well written, well played, with some beautiful 12 string guitar. (Another reason Bon Jovi didn’t make the grade at first was due to their keyboards. This does not explain why Europe did make the grade. There were many inconsistencies.)
Kathryn’s rebellion worsened. Her taste in music declined. I won’t even begin to list some of the awful music she listened to, but I will say that she bottomed out in 1990 with New Kids On The Block, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice. Obviously, this was a person who had no clear idea about integrity within music. However, like a junkie who hits rock bottom, she eventually started to rise up again, with a little encouragement from Her Loving Brother.
The turning point was when Vanilla Ice cancelled his Kitchener tour date in early 1991. His reason stated was that he was too big a star to play a town like Kitchener. There was an instant hatred for the man all over town. Kathryn sold her Vanilla Ice tape immediately.
There were some other clear signs of improvement. A newfound obsession with Cheap Trick was good. Sure, they weren’t metal, but they were definitely rock! Hell, they even worshipped Kiss within their song lyrics. I happily encouraged this love of Cheap Trick, and even bought her Cheap Trick tapes. I think most of her Cheap Trick collection was courtesy of moi.
Rod Stewart came next. I feel that perhaps Rod snuck in the door due to his enormous hair, but I didn’t care. Rod still had a rock pedigree. I encouraged her love of Rod. I asked her questions about him and his music. It was like carefully manipulating a mentally ill person back to health, and I was succeeding in a marginal way. I felt that she’d never come all the way back to metal, even though she owned tapes by Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Poison. Yet I was satisfied with the progress we were making.
Now, 15 years later, I own Rod Stewart, Cheap Trick, Bryan Adams, The Payola$…all music that she introduced me to. She got the last laugh. I’ll never admit that she was always the smarter one (I can’t, since she never understood any movies we watched) but I’ll admit that she got the better of me on this one. We even attended concerts together. It started with Blue Rodeo, then we saw Jann Arden and Amanda Marshall. While I still won’t own any albums by Arden or Marshall, they both put on excellent shows. Blue Rodeo blew us both away and now they’re one of my favourites. I’ve never seen any band more often than Blue Rodeo, and I’ll argue that they’re Canada’s best band, with Rush as a close second.
Even my parents get points. They sure hated “Big Balls” by AC/DC, but now I own more Johnny Cash and Gordon Lightfoot than they do.
Now, I certainly can’t allow Kathryn to come off as the winner in this chapter. So here’s a punch in the arm for you. There, now we’re even.
For those who often find themselves victims of mail theft, having parcels sent from Japan is a risky and anxiety-inducing activity. You cannot have parcels shipped by regular mail, only courier, and dealing with DHL is a nightmare. Fortunately, Jen happened to be home when DHL delivered the parcel on the wrong day when I was not.
I unboxed these Japanese import CDs on Friday February 3’s episode with my good friend MarriedAndHeels. I didn’t spend a heck of a lot of time going through them, so here is a closer look at each!
D-A-D – Osaka After Dark (1990 live EP)
EXTREME – Extragraffitti(1990 EP)
EXTREME – Waiting For the Punchline (1995 Japanese version with “Fair Weather Faith”)
AEROSMITH – Vacation Club (1988 EP)
LOUDNESS – Slap In the Face (1991 EP)
BON JOVI – I Believe – Live At Milton Keynes – September 93 (1993 EP)
BON JOVI – Hey God (2 CD Japanese singles)
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Bob and I went to the mall a lot. Stanley Park Mall was kind of epicenter of the neighborhood. Though it didn’t have a record store of the caliber of Sam the Record Man downtown, it had an A&A and a Zellers where you could find all the big releases and a few singles. It had a grocery store, which meant just about every neighbour bought their supplies at the same place. The Zellers store stocked anything else you needed. There was a liquor store. Two banks. We didn’t need to go elsewhere very often.
It was a nice short walk. We used to take a short cut through the apartments at the very end of Secord Ave. But they fenced up the shortcuts. Sometimes Bob and I would go that way and jump the fences just out of spite.
“They can’t stop us from going this way,” we said.
We were little assholes sometimes, but we had a good time doing it.
The Little Short Stop was an important store. That’s where I would buy my rock magazines. Hit Parader, every single month. I never missed an issue from some time in 1987 through 1990. One thing we loved doing was leafing through seeing ads for all the rock albums that were due to come out. “New Ace Frehley!” I exclaimed upon seeing an ad for Second Sighting. The ads would often tell you names of the forthcoming singles. The ad for Open Up and Say…Ahh! by Poison highlighted the track “Good Love” as a song to watch for. Maybe the marketing for that album changed midway?
I eventually stopped buying Hit Parader, and switched to other mags like Metal Edge. The reason? I always suspected there was something up with their interviews. There was a sameness to them, no matter who was answering. Then, Sebastian Bach from Skid Row got in some serious trouble when an audience member at a concert threw a bottle at him. Injured and enraged, he made the incredibly stupid mistake of throwing the bottle back, and hitting an innocent girl instead. Hit Parader fabricated an interview with Bach where he was quoted as saying “That’s why rock stars have lawyers, man” or something to that effect. The quote was used against him in court.
Not to deflect blame for the incident away from Bach, but I couldn’t support Hit Parader any more after that. Not to mention, I was disappointed to realize that many of the rest of their interviews also had to be fake. I gave away my collection many years ago.
In 1988, however, Hit Parader was my Bible. That, and WWF Magazine, which was equally fake. I always left that store with both magazines if I could. If I couldn’t, the Zehrs store often had the WWF Magazine issues that I needed. Some pop and chips, and we were all set for Short Stop.
WWF Magazine was devious. They had the monthly publication, but also many periodical specials, and I had to collect them all. There was the official Wrestlemania book. Another one for Summer Slam. Royal Rumble. Survivor Series. My mom used to say that the World Wrestling Federation got a lot of money out of us! I would also buy the Toronto Sun the day after a major wrestling event. They had the most complete coverage, often with full colour photos. I may still have an old Toronto Sun from that time.
Then we were off to browse the music at A&A. We’d look at the charts and see if any bands we liked were up there. Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was for about a week. I was pleased when I saw Priest’s Ram It Down on the chart later that year. We’d shop around, but I rarely had enough money for a new tape. Bob did — he had a job.
But browse we did, usually looking for Kiss tapes that we had never seen in stock before. Or Europe. Or Ozzy. Whitesnake, Cinderella, AC/DC, Def Leppard, all of our favourites. Cassettes were like crack to us. We were always searching. Something “rare” would be a must-buy.
Bob would often save his money and buy five tapes at a time. He took chances on stuff I never heard of, like Fifth Angel. He would caution me and make sure I was making the right purchase. He was somewhat surprised when I got into Bon Jovi and decided I wanted to buy Slippery When Wet. He wasn’t really into them that much. “Are you sure that’s what you want?” he asked me one night at the Zellers store. I was sure.
“Have you ever seen this one before?” we would ask each other. The Bon Jovi cassette single “Wanted: Dead or Alive” was one I had my eyes on for several months at that A&A store. You just did not see it very often, so when I had the money, I grabbed it. It was worth it for the incredible acoustic version of the song. Bob didn’t buy singles as often. He valued a full length for his money, but he made exceptions for bands like Iron Maiden. You couldn’t find Maiden singles at A&A though. You had to go to Sam’s for those. Bob wold trek there on his bike. Fortunately he sold his Maiden singles collection to me when he did finally let them go.
One of the most distinctive features of the old Stanley Park Mall that people remember is that it was shaped like a big “O”; like an oval. We would walk around and around. Just talking, looking at the magazines I had purchased. Or the tapes he just bought. Discussing everything going on in music, in the neighbourhood and at school. Because the mall was such a central location for so many people, we’d always run into schoolmates or neighbours. Sometimes a girl that I liked, but I never had the courage to talk to any.
The mall has changed so much and the “O” is gone. All the good stuff is gone. A harsh reminder of the passage of time. But I can still retrace my steps.
Bob was a fast walker but I could keep up. You didn’t waste a lot of time on your way home from the mall. You wanted to get down to business of listening to the new music, or reading the new magazines. That was a special kind of Saturday in old ’88.
Live 2? Surely there must be a Live 1. It appears this 10″ picture disc is a sequel to a 1984 Bon Jovi EP called Live. This picture disc, a limited edition of unknown quantity, collects four previously released classic live performances from the New Jersey tour. They are remastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound.
Though all the live tracks were available long ago on other rarities, the nice thing about this disc is that it actually tells you when and where they were recorded — information missing from some other releases. This record is split into two sides — the U.S. side and the International side.
“I’ll Be There For You” (Lakeland, FL, 1989) and the next track were released on the 1993 double reissue of Keep the Faith, featuring a bonus CD also called Bon Jovi Live. “I’ll Be There For You” was track four on that disc; here it is the lead. A little slow, but Jon and Richie’s harmonies are the magic. Sambora’s expressive playing is also outstanding.
Second, it is an electrifying live version of “Lay Your Hands On Me” (Giants Stadium, NJ, 1989). Tico Torres really grabbed this song by the nuts with his opening drum salvo. Songs like this really opened up Bon Jovi’s sound to include more roots. The crowd noise is mixed low because you can tell it’s an endless mush of high-pitched screams!
Flipping to the International side, we are taken to Wembley in 1988. Jon needs a doctor! It’s “Bad Medicine”, of course. “Doctor Bryan! I think I got it bad this time! What do you mean a shot can’t cure it? It’s like the luggage? Oh well!” Never one of Jon’s finest songs, “Bad Medicine” is the upbeat party track of New Jersey, sometimes a necessary evil. Over the years, you’ve just heard it enough times, and there are lots of live versions of “Bad Medicine” on uncountable releases. This one was originally on the 1988 “Living In Sin” EP. Comparatively speaking, it’s superior to the other live versions out there.
Finally, “Runaway” from Paris in 1988 was first made available as the B-side to “Lay Your Hands On Me”. This energetic version is one of the best takes you will hear. There’s a bare rawness to it, but the vocals are crisp and tight. Everything clicks.
Although Live 2 only captures a tiny slice of the live Bon Jovi experience, it collects four key tracks. Three of the four are really excellent examples of classic Bon Jovi live. Not a bad buy if you don’t have them already.
I’ve never been much of a winter guy. I get that from my dad. The winter of ’92 was long with a number of serious snow days. I had just learned how to drive and it was certainly a challenge. Details are not important. You don’t need an accounting of times my little Plymouth Sundance got stuck or struggled to make it home from school. All you really need to know was what was in my tape deck.
I was still digesting a lot of the music that I received for Christmas at the end of ’91. The live Poison and Queensryche sets got a lot of car play once I dubbed them onto cassette. At this point my attention to detail was becoming overwhelming. I painstakingly faded in and faded out the sides of the live albums onto cassette. This had to be done manually as you were recording. If I missed the cue I’d do it over again until I got it right to my satisfaction. I should have known there was something wrong with me!
We had one serious snow day that year, and although class wasn’t cancelled I stayed home. My school friend Rob V made a tape for me of David Lee Roth live in Toronto on the Eat ‘Em and Smile tour. I know that I played that tape on that day because the memory is so clear. It was a great concert. Roth and Steve Vai had a fun interplay, where Steve imitated Roth’s vocal intonations with his guitar. Vai followed his voice as Roth told the crowd, “Toronto kicks ass, because the girls are soooo fiiiine!”
Time flies, and 1992 didn’t take long to kick into gear with new releases.
I had just discovered Queen. Suddenly here comes this new movie Wayne’s World which made Queen a worldwide phenomenon for a second time. More important to me though was the fact that the soundtrack CD included the first new Black Sabbath track with Ronnie James Dio in a decade: “Time Machine”! My buddy Peter didn’t care — he was strictly an Ozzy Sabbath fan. No Dio! (And certainly no Tony Martin!) But I was excited. I wanted to get that soundtrack as soon as possible.
There was a new music store that had just opened at the mall about six months prior. The very first tape I would ever buy there was the debut album by Mr. Bungle in late ’91. It would be the very Record Store that I would later dedicate years of my life to…but not yet. When it opened, I recall my sister and I being glad that there was finally a music store at the mall again, but disappointed in the prices. $14.99 for a tape was a lot of cash. CDs were unfortunately out of our price range. New cassette releases like Wayne’s World were cheaper at $10.99, so I went to the mall before class one morning to get a copy. And this is a funny memory as you’ll see.
When I worked at the store, the boss would give me shit if he thought I was talking to someone too much. I think he would have preferred good old fashioned silent labour, but I don’t know that. He also drilled into us to pay attention to every customer and don’t ignore anybody. So it’s quite ironic that he lost a sale that day by ignoring me and talking it up with some hot girl visiting him!
I was standing there in front of his new release rack looking for Wayne’s World. I knew it was out, but didn’t see it anywhere. I checked his soundtracks and it was missing in action. I wanted to ask him if he had it, but he was chatting it up with this girl. Eventually I caught his attention, but only because as I stood there waiting, I thought he did ask me a question. So I said, “Pardon me?” But he wasn’t actually talking to me, he was still talking to the girl. Once he noticed me, he informed me that Wayne’s World was sold out but he could hold a copy for me as soon as the next shipment arrived. I was ticked off so I said no thanks, and picked it up at the Zellers store down the hall instead.
Wayne’s World in the deck, I happily rocked to Queen, Sabbath, Cinderella, and hell even Gary Wright. Peter and I saw the movie one Saturday night at a theater in Guelph, and liked it so much that we went back to see it again the following afternoon. I saw Wayne’s World four times that winter!
I got my fill of Queen with the recent Classic Queen CD, released later that March. I got the CD for a good price at the local Costco! This enabled me to get a good chunk of Queen hits all at once in glorious CD quality.
The next big release to hit my car deck was a big one. A really big one. An album five years in the making through triumph and tragedy.
On March 31 I went back to the Record Store on my way to class, and the new release I was waiting for had arrived. I left gripping Adrenalize in my hands. An album I had been waiting for since highschool and even had actual dreams about! It was finally real. Into the tape deck it went as I drove to school. Less riffy…more reliant on vocal melody…not bad? I’ll let them have it though. After what they’ve been through? Yeah, I’ll cut them some slack.
Two weeks later, I was digesting another massive chunk of music.
I didn’t get Pandora’s Box in 1991 when it was released. There was so much going on. But my parents bought it for me as an Easter gift in April ’92. That Easter I was “Back in the Saddle” with three CDs of Aerosmith!
It was a bittersweet gift. Traditionally the family spent Easter at the cottage. I have lots of happy memories of playing GI Joe in the fresh Easter afternoons up there. This time I had to study for final exams and stayed home with my gift. I must have played that box set two times through while studying that weekend.
Exams were over by the end of April and suddenly…it was summer holidays. In April! It was…incredible! I stubbornly refused to get a summer job. I have to say I don’t regret that. I had savings from my previous job at the grocery store and I was getting Chrysler dividends cheques (yeah, baby). Between that, Christmas & birthday gifts, I got most of the music I wanted. And I got to spend that summer just enjoying it all. It felt really good after such a long and frankly lonely winter.
Pandora’s Box tided me over. After all, it was a lot to absorb having heard very little “old” Aerosmith up til that point. My favourite track was “Sharpshooter” by Whitford – St. Holmes. I liked that they included a sampling of solo material by various members. These were new worlds to discover, but what about the next big release? Who would be the one to spend my valuable savings on?
Iron Maiden were back on May 11 after a very short absence with Fear of the Dark, their second of the Janick Gers era. But I needed to save my money, and wait one more week for something even more important to me. It was Revenge time.
Speaking of triumph and tragedy, it was time for some overdue spoils for Kiss. Having lost drummer Eric Carr to cancer in late ’91, Kiss deserved to catch a break. Fortunately Revenge turned out to be a far better album than the previous few. I recall getting over a really bad cold, and my lungs were still congested on that spring day. The outdoor air felt amazing. I walked over to the mall on release day and bought my CD copy at the Record Store. I probably ran all the way home to play it, lungs be damned.
To say I was happy was an understatement. In 1992 you had to come out with something strong or you would sink. It was a more vicious musical world than just a year ago. Fortunately Kiss did not wimp out and came out with an album just heavy enough, without following trends. It would be my favourite album of the year, though a few strong contenders were still lined up.
My birthday was coming and I would have to wait a little while to get some more essential tunes. Fear of the Dark was on the list. So was Faith No More’s Angel Dust, which was a must. And, of course, rock’s ultimate royalty returned in 1992. A band that rock history cannot ignore, though it arguably should. A band that defined the term “odorous”. A band with a colourful and tragic backstory. A band making its long feared return with its first album since 1984’s Smell the Glove. And with their new album Break Like the Wind, they proudly proclaimed, yes indeed, this is Spinal Tap.
Once again, quite a bit of music to absorb. I had been anticipating the Iron Maiden. I heard the first single “Be Quick or Be Dead” on Q107 late one night, and didn’t think much of it at first. I was concerned that Bruce Dickinson’s voice was becoming more growly and less melodic. The album helped assuage these concerns with a number of melodic numbers including “Wasting Love”, “Afraid to Shoot Strangers” and “Fear of the Dark”. But the album was infected with lots of filler. “Weekend Warrior”, “Fear is the Key”, “Chains of Misery”…lots of songs that were just not memorable. Fear of the Dark sounded better than its predecessor but could you say it was better than Seventh Son? Somewhere in Time? Powerslave? No.
Though it was murky and dense, the Faith No More album blew me away. The M.E.A.T Magazine review by Drew Masters gave it 2/5 M’s. I gave it 5/5. I wanted something heavy and weird from Faith No More. I got what I wanted. Peter was a big Faith No More fan too, but I don’t think he dug Angel Dust as much as I did. We both appreciated the comedic aspects but I really got into the samples, nuances and rhythms. It was, and is, a masterpiece. I believe I can say that I was of that opinion from the very beginning.
And Spinal Tap, dear Spinal Tap. The Majesties of Rock took a little longer for me to fully understand. And no wonder, for Spinal Tap are playing musical 4-dimensional chess inside your ear canals. I simply had to accept that several years had passed since Spinal Tap last recorded, and they had grown in their own stunted way. I’ve always thought that the title track was sincerely brilliant. But I never liked that Nigel Tufnel had so few lead vocals. I have long appreciated bands that had multiple lead singers. While this time even bassist Derek Smalls stepped up to the microphone, it was David St. Hubbins who sang lead on 11 of the 14 tracks. Now, this is certainly not to criticise the enviable lead pipes of St. Hubbins, but merely to state that there wasn’t enough Nigel. Having said that, Nigel did branch out by employing a new guitar playing technique — doubling his solos with vocals, like Gillan used to do with Blackmore. He also got to unleash his new amps that went up to infinity, which debuted live at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in April.
Like all things, summer eventually came to an end and it was back to school once again. That fall and into Christmas I got some of the last new releases that were on my radar. I missed Black Sabbath when Dehumanizer came out in June. That one took a long time to really like. While the production was incredibly crisp, the songs didn’t seem up to snuff to me. At least at first. In time, it became a personal favourite album.
That Christmas came the new Bon Jovi album Keep the Faith, Queen’s new Greatest Hits, and of course AC/DC Live. It was also the Christmas that I first realized there was something wrong inside my head, and I realized it because of those albums. It was partly the obsessive-compulsive disorder, but also a massive hangup about being ignored. I wanted the AC/DC double Live, but was given the single. I wanted Keep the Faith and Queen on CD but got cassette. As I grew older and learned more about myself, I realized that I became very upset if I felt like someone was not listening to me or understanding me. Nobody seemed to get why I wanted specific versions (because of my OCD actually), and I couldn’t explain it, so that set me off even further. I became extremely grumpy that Christmas over these gifts, and it was ugly. I isolated myself to stew in my own negativity. It’s not something I’m proud of, and you can call me a spoiled brat if you want to (you wouldn’t be wrong). At least I’ve worked at trying to figure out my defects.
It’s not like any of it mattered in the long term. I have re-bought all of those albums twice since, each!
1992 went out much like it came in, cold and snowy. Canadian winters are hard. Some people have the DNA for it, but I don’t. I’m half Italian. I wasn’t designed for snowy, damp winters. That’s why music is so important to me in the winter months. Music can be a completely indoor activity and I had a continually fresh supply. 1992 was a big year for heavy metal even though the grunge revolution had already started. Of course, things were not to stay as they are. Iron Maiden and Faith No More were about to hit some major speedbumps, and Black Sabbath had already split in two by the end of the year! 1992 was the last time we could pretend heavy metal was still in good health. Hard rock was about to endure further challenges and hardships. At least we had ’92.
It’s impossible to acquire a “complete” Bon Jovi collection; trust me on this. Even Jon Bon Jovi doesn’t have a complete Bon Jovi collection. Up to a certain point in time, it’s fun to collect as many B-sides and bonus tracks you can get your hands on.
The second single from “best of” album Cross Road (1994) was “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night”, and it was a pretty clear indication of where the band would go on their next album These Days. But — surprise bonus — this single doesn’t have the studio version (that you already own) from Cross Road. It has an uncredited live version instead! Added bonus — Alec John Such on bass. He had yet to be replaced (on stage, anyway) by Hugh McDonald. This is probably the only live version of the hit with Such on bass.
Make no mistake, “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night” is a great song. There’s a Bon Jovi niche for acoustic rock songs with down-on-your-luck/inspirational lyrics. “My life’s a bargain basement, all the good shit’s gone.” This is Jon’s bread and butter. He wouldn’t know a bargain basement if he was shopping for old Bon Jovi singles in one, but he does this kind of rock really well. This is one of the last of his must-haves of the genre.
Another rare one, “Good Guys Don’t Always Wear White”, is a studio track with the well-worn cowboy motif. It’s from the movie The Cowboy Way featuring Jon’s old Young Guns buddy Keifer Sutherland. Unexpectedly, this one is an intricate hard-driving rocker, with a Sambora riff that he could take pride in. Tico Torres is absolutely on fire on the kit. That guy can lay down a groove while throwing in challenging patterns just for fun. Why can’t Bon Jovi rock like this anymore? This track feels more honest than the hard luck songs.
Two more live songs finish the CD. These two are from Montreal in ’94: “With A Little Help From My Friends” (Joe Cocker style) and “Always”. The reason Bon Jovi can get away with “A Little Help From My Friends” is Richie Sambora, who always brings the soul and the integrity. That’s not to say that Jon sucks. Check out the note he holds at 3:57. The man had lungs back in 1994! The demographics of the audience are obvious: “Always” is almost drowned out by a sea of high-pitched screams! It’s one of their last ballads that really deserves that kind of cheering though.
A great single is one that you can list to independently of the album, and doesn’t sound like a bunch of miscellaneous bonus tracks. This single is like that. There’s no wasted space, no filler, and no tracks you can get on the albums. The live stuff is high grade and the studio track is extremely valuable for its hard rocking nature. This is more like an EP than a single, but it’s all semantics. Let’s just call it:
You say you don’t like my kind, A bitter picture in your mind. No, it don’t matter what I say, I hear you bitchin’ when I walk away. I’ll never be what you want me to be, You tell me I’m wrong but I disagree, I ain’t go no apology. Just because I don’t look like you, talk like you, think like you, Judge and jury, a hangman’s noose, I see them in your eyes.
Canadian rock sensation Aldo Nova made his very first visit to the MuchMusic studios in July of 1991, on the Pepsi Power Hour hosted by Michael Williams. Getting down to business, Aldo plays an unplugged “Modern World” from his brand new album Blood on the Bricks!
This nearly 20 minute segment is Williams and MuchMusic at their finest. Aldo is engaging and frequently demonstrates songs on acoustic. Subjects covered:
Signing a deal / starting out with “Fantasy”
Producing early Celine Dion recordings
“Blaze of Glory”
His band and working with a singer instead of singing himself
BON JOVI – Bounce (2002 Universal, 2010 special edition)
Wrote off Bon Jovi after Keep the Faith? Not so fast!
It was a post-911 world, which in strange hindsight was a more optimistic time than today. Bon Jovi, always patriotic, had to respond. While only a few songs relate to the tragedy, Bounce is easily the strongest Bon Jovi platter from the last 20 years.
That was my brother lost in the rubble, That was my sister lost in the crush, That was our mothers, those were our children, That was our fathers, that was each one of us.
“Undivided” makes no bones about its subject. It’s also one of the heaviest songs the band have ever laid down. Much of this, according to the band, came down to a new guitar that Richie Sambora was using. His tone is certainly aggressive and modern.
“Where we once were divided, now we stand united.”
If only temporarily. It was certainly more inspiring in its time. At least nothing can be taken away from the music, and Sambora’s always sublime soloing.
Lead single “Everyday” is less successful, leaning on modern production values instead of rock and roll. At least it rocks hard and chunky for the most part. The samples and effects could have been ejected without hurting the song. But Bon Jovi’s biggest weakness after Keep the Faith was a dependence on ballads. At least most of the Bounce ballads stand strong. The first of these is one of the strongest, “The Distance”. It utilizes Sambora’s crushing guitar effectively to create a rock/ballad hybrid. You can headbang to the riff while crooning to the verses. It’s topped with strings courtesy of David Campbell, making the whole thing so overblown…and so Bon Jovi. That’s their style. You either like it or you don’t.
“Joey” is less successful as a ballad. It’s one of those “growing up in New Jersey” songs that Jon is good at writing. “Blood on Blood” is the best example of that kind of song. “Joey”, not so much. The arrangement is generic and the words, well: “I never cared that Joey Keys was slow, he couldn’t read or write too well but we’d talk all night long.” I’m sure there are more lyrical ways of telling this story.
Midtempo “Misunderstood” is an album highlight (and second single). The chorus is the selling point. Vintage Bon Jovi melody and charisma. Unfortunately single #3, “All About Loving You” is profoundly putrid, with drum machines and tinkling acoustic guitars aplenty. A heavy rocker called “Hook Me Up” is also less than inspiring, although you can at least rock heavy to it in dumb fashion.
A pleasant ballad, “Right Side of Wrong” is similar to “Joey” but without the awkward lyrics. What does it sound like? Bon Jovi, with all the references he loves: James Cagney, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Next, Sambora’s wah-wah guitar on “Love Me Back to Life” brings some heavy to another ballad, which is good, because there are three in a row. It’s all about Sambora and the strings by David Campbell, which add some needed punch.
Most of the ballads to this point have featured piano with strings, but “You Had My From Hello” is a sweet acoustic number. Pleasant is the word. But the second last track “Bounce” is an ass-kicker and best track on the album. “Call it karma, call it luck, me I just don’t give a f…f…f…” OK, that sounds pretty cheesey. Jon refusing to drop the F-bomb is funny when you think about it, but “Bounce” was a single, so it’s not like he’s going to swear all over it. Richie’s solo is 2000s-era perfect, as good as mainstream music got back then. “Bounce” rocks. Unfortunately the album concludes on another cookie-cutter ballad, “Open All Night”. It was written about an Ally McBeal episode that Jon guested in. Hard pass.
The 2010 special edition includes a cool backstage pass and four live bonus tracks: “The Distance”, “Joey”, “Hook Me Up” and “Bounce”. The added value makes the upgrade worthwhile.
This album “bounces” back between rockers and ballads a bit much, but when the songs are solid, it fires on all cylinders. Let’s say you trimmed two songs from the album to make it an even 10, like Slippery When Wet. Then Bounce would be a more consistent listen, and perhaps considered a bit of a latter day classic. It’s still probably the last “good” album they’ve released.
Forget Valentine’s Day…except when it’s good for traffic! Back in my single days I used to call it “Bon Jovi Day” and listen to nothing but Jon & Richie. Here’s some Bon Jovi for you!
BON JOVI – “Real Life” (1999 Reprise & promo CD singles)
There was an unprecedented five year interregnum between These Days and Crush. This pause allowed Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora to get some solo albums out of their systems before the band re-convened. In the buildup to the new album, Bon Jovi contributed a new single called “Real Life” to the movie EdTV. Remember EdTV? There were two movies out at the same time about a guy who had his whole life broadcast on television 24/7. One, The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey, was a huge hit. The other, Ron Howard’s EdTV starring Matthew McConaughey, was the also-ran. EdTV might have been more interesting, but bombed. This rendered the Bon Jovi single relatively obscure. It’s not the first time a Bon Jovi movie track misfired. Remember “Good Guys Don’t Always Wear White”?
“Real Life” was a decent tune, but it was a ballad at a time when Bon Jovi already had plenty. There’s little to draw your attention, aside from Richie Sambora’s always alluring guitar and vocals. The watery guitar tone is not far removed from These Days, but that album boasted the kind of ballads you’d never forget. Songs like “Something to Believe In”, “These Days”, and “(It’s Hard) Letting You Go” are the kind of songs you carry your whole life. “Real Life” is not. In the wake of These Days, it was just another ballad.
Who is “Desmond Childs“?
This commercial single has two versions of “Real Life”, but there are actually four versions out there! For the “album version”, if you don’t want the EdTV soundtrack, look for a promo single instead. The differences between the album version and the radio mix are slight, but the album version has more guitar where the single mix has more piano. The third version is an instrumental mix, which is nice if you want to listen to Richie’s guitar a little more. The fourth and final version is an alternate mix that can be found on the box set 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong.
Finally, a live recording of “Keep the Faith” rounds out the single. It seems to be a standby live B-side for this band. They used another version on the 2013 single for “Because We Can“. It’s certainly one of their most accomplished songs. The bass groove and Tico’s busy drum patterns keep your feet moving. It’s noncommercial and it strives to be something bigger. It might be, in a technical sense, Bon Jovi’s most unapologetic and best hit.
Interestingly enough, “Real Life” is the only Bon Jovi video without David Bryan who was away on an injury. I don’t think he missed out on much.