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Friday, August 21, 2015

CD-Review: Bon Jovi - "Burning Bridges"

It was a huge surprise when the guys of Bon Jovi announced a new album just four weeks ago. But to be honest it isn't that "new", because "Burning Bridges" consists mainly of songs that were originally written for older albums. It's not a collection of demos, because the tracks were recorded a few months ago, so this LP is supposed to be a "fan album" to fill the gap until a brand new record arrives in 2016. It also marks the first record in Bon Jovi history without Richie Sambora on guitars (which makes it to a Jon Bon Jovi solo record in my opinion, but later more on that). The big question is: can this album shine, where its predecessor failed?

To die-hard fans, who love the band since their early days, the latest album "What About Now" was a huge disappointment. I mean it's well known that all albums after "These Days" from 1995 got more and more repetitive and weak with each new record. There were always some loveable songs on all of them, but that's simply not enough for a legendary band like Bon Jovi which produced hits on the assembly line back in the days. With the departure of Richie Sambora in 2013 things got even more worse, because the fanbase was split in two groups that were arguing with each other who is to blame for this break.

So, to those of you who don't like the stuff since "Crush" I just can say: you also won't be happy with "Burning Bridges", because the major sound is still the same like it was on "What About Now". I read some of the songs were written for "Slipepry When Wet" (1986), but I can hardly find them, because the production is again a typical John Shanks production. That means beside some solos, the guitars a mixed in the background and the overall sound is too polished and focuses too much on Jon Bon Jovi's vocals, which sound a bit more rough this time (especially on "We Don't Run" or "Who Would You Die For").

Let's get to the songs themselves: the album kicks off with the ballad "A Teardrop To The Sea". Yes, a ballad! Why the hell you start a Rock album with a ballad? OK, I have to say this one is a very atmospheric and melancholic piece of music with a nice moody guitar solo in it, but it isn't the best start for a Rock album. The following "We Don't Run" should have been the opener, because this one is the over-the-top-hit on this record and simply the best Bon Jovi song I've heard since "Have A Nice Day"! It features a more agressive vocal style in the verses and ends up in a massive anthemic chorus. That's the kind of Bon Jovi song I want to hear more often! Also drummer Tico Torres really kicks ass on this song and is not just playing his standard programm.

With "Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning" we reach the next earworm. It's the typical Bon Jovi pop-rock hit. The little problem I've with that song is that the chorus is stolen from Nickelbacks "Gotta Be Somebody". Listen to both songs and you'll see how brazenly Bon Jovi copied the melody from Nickelback.

Do you remember my review to "What About Now"? I talked about a "ballad overkill" in the end of the record. The same happens now on "Burning Bridges" in the middle of this album. "We all Fall Down" is a slushy calm ballad and things get even more calm with the following "Blind Love", which is just a piano ballad. To be fair I have to addmit that this piano tune developed after a few listenings to one of my favorites, because it features a very sweet melody. This could have been an even better song with different arrangements.

If this wasn't enough we get to hear a third ballad, called "Who Would You Die For". Another more melancholic track and definitely not my favorite song on this album. Now we are all in ballad-mode, so why not presenting a fourth ballad in a row!!!! "Fingerprints" kicks off very slowly, but can build up a certain tension which makes it to one of the better ballads. At the end of the song we also get to hear a very extensive guitar solo. That really surprised me. Can't remember one Bon Jovi song in the last 10 years where the solo was that long.

With "Life Is Beautiful" and "I'm Your Man" we luckily break through this "wall of ballads" and it was very refreshing to hear those two solid pop-rock tunes.
And now we come to the most horrible song Bon Jovi ever recorded: the title track. I don't know how I should describe it. "Burning Bridges" feels like German "Schlager", which means it is a song for a beer tent on a village festival. It just sounds horrible. It seems like Jon & Co. wanted to be funny with that one, so you shouldn't take this song too seriously, but it's just absolute crap and embarrassing to hear. Luckily this nightmare is over after two minutes.

So what can I say in conclusion? This album simply has too much calm moments. There are just 10 songs on it and half of it are ballads - ballads that never reach the quality of "Bed Of Roses", "I'll Be There For you" or even "Thank You For Loving Me". Then you have the standout-track "We Don't Run" and the rest is solid fare. That all is packed in a powerless production. But what I miss the most is Richie Sambora. Not just his guitarplay. I miss his voice and the vocal harmonies between him and Jon that made so many Bon Jovi songs so special. This magic is simply gone. Anyone who says Richie is not needed doesn't really understand what the essence of Bon Jovi was all about.  
"Burning Bridges" sounds like a Jon Bon Jovi solo record to me, because the remaining members Tico Torres and David Bryan don't contribute something to the whole songwriting or the way how everything is arranged. 

In the end of the day this isn't a "fan album", because the fans want to hear the big Rock band Bon Jovi and not more whiny ballads. A huge Rock'n'Roll record would have been pure fan service. I can't understand why they don't have the balls to do an ass kicking rock record again. "Burning Bridges" has lots of good ideas, but they are not implemented in full scale. Why they don't turn the guitars to the maximum? Why this polished production? They have nothing to lose, because the fans buy everything with the brand "Bon Jovi" on it. I think these questions can only answer Jon Bon Jovi himself. 
If you like to see how it's done right listen to the new Trixter album ("Human Era"), which is very close to Bon Jovi's stuff.

Finally we have another more disappointing release for die-hard-fans. Only those who loved the previous two albums maybe find something groundbreaking here. I just can recommend you to lower your expectations, then you have another mediocre album of a former glorious band.


01. A Teardrop To The Sea
02. We Don't Run *
03. Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning *
04. We All Fall Down
05. Blind Love *
06. Who Would You Die For
07. Fingerprints *
08. Life Is Beautiful
09. I'm Your Man *
10. Burning Bridges

* best tracks 


  1. i agree with your review,but you wrote something wrong shanks played all the guitars not phil x

  2. Thanks for your feedback :)

    Oh, I thought he just played the guitar on "We Don't Run"?

    1. According to a tweet from Shanks, he played all the guitars on this album. In an interview last Sunday, Phil X said he's not on this album, but that he's "been told" he will play on the 2016 album. However, at the Runaway Q&A in July, Jon said the album was "done, but now we gotta sit on it." So I guess we'll have to wait and see. Maybe Jon will include credits on that one.

    2. Ok, thanks for the information, I changed it in the review :)

      Hopefully we get to hear something better in 2016 with a new label.
      Yeah, the so called "Fan-Album" is just an album for the label to fulfill a contract and go parted ways. That's the whole story behind this record :(

  3. The magic is gone. Jon AND Richie were the hook. It's over.

  4. I agree with some things you said, but not the majority. This is a heavily biased review. There is nothing wrong with how they started off the album. It's all opinions. There are people like me that wish they had more kick-ass ballads like the ones on this album. Who Would You Die For is my favorite one, and I'm not the only one with this opinion. I thought We Don't Run was just okay. Don't assume all fans are going to be disappointed just because you were. Take the time to learn about what the song Burning Bridges is about. It's an amazing song even if it came from unfortunate circumstances. I can't make you change your mind, but I ask that you please speak for yourself.

  5. Hey Tom,

    thanks for your comment.

    Perhaps it's not rellay clear what this blog is all about. Like most blogs in the world wide web this is a very personal site, so I'm just talking here about my tasts in music and my feelings I have on certain albums. So, this blog hasn't the claim to be a source for objective, journalistic articles. It's always about the releases I'm looking forward to and that's why I don't cover all albums that come out. I also actually bought most of the records I write about. So every text refers to my own opinion and what I think. I wouldn't dare to say that everybody has to have the same opinion like me and I also don't want to be a "journalist". I just love to write and share some of my feelings on music with others. Here in this review it's just the fact that I can imagine that many people could have the same problems with the album like me (and if I read some other stuff online it seems like the fanbase is split). When you like this record I'm totally fine with it :)
    I just wanted to point out what this blog is all about and that the stuff you can read here is always quite subjective. So sorry, if that wasn't really clear.

    Especially with Bon Jovi it's always hard to discuss an album because I grew up with their music and believe it or not: They paved me the way to rock music, without them I wouldn't listen to this kind of music today. So on the one site there is this loyalty but on the other the band disappointed me with the latest records. Believe me, I'm still hoping they will blew me away again someday. :)

    1. Well what can I say of your analysis?
      I think you are 100% right ...
      But I think these tb 100% wrong! Ahahahahah (hard this analysis).

      I am fan of Bonjovi from the first album (my favorite of all time), therefore I am another of those who, 20 years complains to the bonjovi by returning to singing great songs of Hard Rock with that romantic vein that they have always been the GREATEST.
      Unfortunately they do not wish to return to this path, basically that's the problem because we complain... in each new work

      Other details, any new Cd of Bonjovi for an old fan will never pass a 7/10, max max of 8/10 ... but forget 9 to 10, it is unthinkable because they never again will want satisfy us 100% return to the old formula.

      Returning to this new job, I agree that indeed the sound is different indicating that Richie is not, so things at the level of the guitars changed ... moreover, I think that we have no super HIT ... (negative factor), but I also notice that is a CD that the more we hear .... more we like it! (analyze)

      Lack of Richie ??
      I feel no, the level ALBUM, as I said, 25y who can not get a SUPER ALBUM and of course one of the blame is the lack of guitars, riffs, fantastic Richie solos .. totally lost its way . But rather I had him in bonjovi than walking solo ... to destroy the songs!

      I need to say that I like some Solos and riffs on this work... very different of the normal Bonjovi Style... or Richie style.

      Well finally, it is just one work of bonjovi, the we all say, ´´we do not like´´, but if we give time and attention .. we ended like it :) alot hahahahaah

      Thomas bonjovi the best song in the last 20 years ... is ''Love is the only Rule´´
      Stay Rocker \m/

  6. I agree with your review whole-heartedly. When listening to the album, I was always waiting for some Jovie/Sambora vocal harmonies. And keeping in mind the fact that this is supposed to be previously unreleased material from their "great" days, I was very disappointed.