CD Review: Bon Jovi “The Circle”

bon joviThe ham and cheese of rock are back with a new record, following their so-called “country”-inspired detour, “Lost Highway”. With “The Circle”, Bon Jovi is once again claiming that they are going back to the big arena rock sound of their late 80s hey day. “The Circle” is as much “New Jersey” as “Lost Highway” is a “Ropin’ The Wind”. In other words, big arena rock this is NOT; but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a decent record from Jon Bon and the Jersey boys. And to their credit, “The Circle” is generally more upbeat and not overwhelmed with the band’s proclivity for sappy power ballads.

We have all the elements that set the stage for a reliable Bon Jovi effort: yet another blatant retread of their biggest hit “Livin’ On A Prayer”, a song referencing Superman, a piano ballad that gives the vestigial David Bryan something to do, and a handful of tracks letting us know that Billy Falcon and Desmond Child are still alive somewhere.

Things get off to a predictable start with the driving single, “We Weren’t Born To Follow” but then suddenly get stuck in molasses with the sleep inducing “When We Were Beautiful”. They step back up to the plate with a Springsteen-esque track “Work For The Working Man”, which is a tune the Boss could have pulled off much better. Then comes “Superman Tonight”, which, while lyrically challenged, is a decent midtempo track with an enjoyable chorus. Beginning with “Thorn In My Side”, the album really picks up in terms of delivering the catchy AOR we expect from modern Bon Jovi, serving up some of the best tracks the band has done since “Have A Nice Day”. Bottom line regarding “The Circle”: the record has its moments, but too many lackluster tracks interspersed among the standouts bring down my enthusiasm for it as a whole.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11

Bon Jovi on MySpace. Official site.

2 Comments

  1. All points well taken as everyone has an opinion. But the reality of the situation is Bon Jovi has earned 3 generations of fans over the course of these last 25 years so the respect level from these fans is so high, it’s unheard of. Their dedication to the music, to eachother and to their fans makes them unstoppable–which is described best in the bands new album title, “The Circle”. While nothing is perfect about this album, a healthy portion of the fan base–high schoolers like me from the ’80s–are so dedicated they will carry them through all the successes they can possibly muster, because that’s our job. You don’t have someone like Bon Jovi carry you through every difficult stage of your life for 25 years and not support them. They are not fly by nights and they are not the has beens that I also grew up with who gave up on eachother and moved on. They are a band of brothers who know the bottom line–trust each other, tight-fist the world, and no one can break the circle. And that is the ultimate reason for the album title–this all goes on and on. I know I am not the only one that feels a whole lot of pride just knowing they exist and are out there writing songs that make me feel better. And this is the solitary reason who they are going to fill these stadiums in 2010 & 2011 and everything they touch is going to turn to gold.

  2. I love The Circle. I’ve been a Bon Jovi fan since Livin’ on a Prayer came out and I think The Circle is all around one fo their strongest albums.

    I’m pretty sure the guys didn’t claim The Circle was New Jersey. They try to do something new and different with each album (and each song). I think they managed to stay true to themselves and what we expect to get from Bon Jovi while still giving us something new and fresh.

    I think maybe you should take another listen to When We Were Beautiful. It’s a very powerful and moving song – especially if you take the time to think about what they are saying. It was written just as the economic bubble was bursting and our world was cracking. It’s a very different sound for Bon Jovi.

    Superman Tonight seems to be the most popular song among the fan club members. So many of us have been rescued in one way or another by Bon Jovi and their songs that this song really strikes a cord with many of us.

    Work for the Working Man was written about the DHL plant that closed in Ohio. The lyrics where good enough that they are hanging on David Axlerod’s wall in The White House as inspiration.

    I could go on as I love every song on the album for one reason or another. And I can’t wait to see them rock it out on the tour that starts in February. This album will translate so well to the live arena stage.

    (Incidently, my favorite tracks seem to be your least favorite and vice versa. I guess that’s what keeps this world interesting.)

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