Live 2

REVIEW: Bon Jovi – Live 2 (2014 10″ picture disc)

BON JOVI – Live 2 (2014 Mercury limited edition 10″ picture disc)

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.

3.5/5 stars