Reason no. 1309 justifying the existence of the Groove. I had stupidly, and for years, considered Wanted Dead or Alive a cut from 1988’s New Jersey. Having freshly experienced this angelic gem on LA radio the other morning, I found myself dodging lolly-gagging traffic on my escape home in order to spin Bon Jovi’s 2nd consecutive no. 1 album. To my reluctant surprise, Wanted Dead or Alive was nowhere to be found on ’88s NJ. Once again, and stupidly, I was reminded that WDoA was a / the seasoned favorite from 1986’s Slippery When Wet LP. I figure the moral is, grease up on your Bon Jovi history, fool!
There are certain milestones, chapters in a man’s life (obvious statement), and these chapters can be traced to the discovery and overabundant submersion into specific pop artists… for me, anyway. Phases may be a better term for it. When I was young I went through my Bon Jovi phase (ended), followed by my Def Leppard phase (ended). In Junior High it was the hip-hop (mainly ended) and Jane’s Addiction phases (on-going), before graduating to the punk, industrial, and metal phases (never-ending, never-ending, and mainly ended, respectfully). I’ll spare you the long line of personal music phases (as well as their lengths), and cut directly to the now, decade-long Jim Croce phase. First discovered from classic rock radio as a lad, my Croce chapter started with a 2-disc compilation titled, The 50th Anniversary Collection. Acquired during my brief tenure as a music coordinator, the digital version of this album opened a new and exciting door to some of the most profound, and emotional songwriting I’d ever hear. While some chapters conclude, I pray my Croce chapter has no ending.
You know that when you’ve started measuring out your cocktails, there’s an issue onboard the gravy train. 1988’s glam metal pop sluts from Pennyslvania made a shit-ton of parents unhappy with their questionably abhorrent cover for Open Up and Say… Ahh!, their second, and most successful makeup-laden album.
Competing against Def Leppard’s Hysteria (a personal fav), Bon Jovi’s New Jersey (another adolescent treasure), and Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (arguably the best album every released), it’s no wonder Poison’s Open Up… achieved only the no. 2 spot on the Billboard 200. Striving for that no. 1 spot, the band re-released OUaS…A! with a slightly less eye-catching, much more (parent friendly) subdued cover, but were never able to break into that coveted no. 1 spot; Unfortunate, but understandable given the timeless competition.
It’s interesting that mega-glam-rock band, Bon Jovi, would title a major label album after a janitor’s caution sign. Perhaps Jon Bon, ahem, “lapped a few dirty halls” prior to becoming arguably the biggest rock star in the continental United States.
Jon Bon Jovi has come a long way since his first documented recording, singing lead vocals on R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas on the 1980 Star Wars Christmas album, Christmas in the Stars… I’m not joking. Who knew that only six short years later he’d be slipping and sliding his way to the “hearts” of women across the world.
Slipper When Wet shows the band’s rapid maturity in the three short years since their 1984 debut. Producing three Top 10 hits with this album alone, Livin’ on a Prayer, You Give Love a Bad Name and Wanted Dead or Alive, Jon Bon Jovi (né John Bongiovi) and crew single handedly became the soundtrack to late ’86 and early ’87. The band would see similar success with their follow up album, New Jersey, but 1986 marked Bon Jovi’s breakthrough into mainstream success.
Somewhere, right now, John Bongiovi is sipping an Old Fashioned and looking back at 1986, quite fondly I might add, and saying to himself (or to one of the several women in his room), “You know, it was all right. You know?” It was all right, Mr. Bongiovi. It was all right indeed.