Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Slippery When Wet" by Bon Jovi (1986)

The cover that didn't get approved...

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

Fun Fact:
The pic in the liner notes is awesome.  Eighties bikini car washes are cool.

Filed Between: Blondie and Boston

Obtained Via: Hasty Purchase at a Local Peddler's Mall

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
REQUIRED LISTENING.  Seriously, if you haven't heard every song on this record, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

And the award for best LP named after a stripper goes to...

We have reached an interesting point in the journey.  This is MY timeframe for music.  I remember these songs coming out.  These are the first in almost forty reviews that weren't part of some already-established canon when I came across them.  I played these songs on the jukebox.  I saw them when they first came out.  That's right, not heard them, but SAW them - we're talking MTV generation, baby.

And so, I give Bon Jovi a long leash.  They get tagged as balladmongers, but that really happened on releases after "Slippery When Wet."  For my money, I'll take this group of songs over "Hysteria," "Dr. Feelgood," "Open Up and Say... Ahh!," or pretty much any other hair rock LP you want to put it up against.  "Slippery When Wet" dominated the charts for the next two years and helped steer the course of popular music for the next four.  It may be the archetype of late eighties rock.

What I'm trying to say is, this is time capsule shit right here.  This is what they launch into deep space to represent our culture.  But I digress...

It kicks off with Let It Rock, which is everything you ever wanted in an uptempo hair metal song.  In case you haven't figured it out already, I don't consider "hair metal" at all a bad term.  There were just some really bad bands in that genre that got an awful lot of exposure.  But then you get tracks like this one and you can't help but dig it.

And You Give Love a Bad Name is even better.  This is another one of those songs that everybody knows.  This is another one of those songs my nine year old has on her iPod.  I still remember the first time I heard this song and how I wallowed in that awesome guitar break.

Livin' on a Prayer doesn't pop up until track three?  I would have never called that one.  I'm pretty sure Jon Bon Jovi kept a thesaurus hidden in all that hair.  When he wanted, he could be one of the best lyricists of the eighties (after Sting, of course).  And LOAP is one of the band's best lyrics ever.  It's also one of the best talk-box songs ever.  "Ooh wah ooh wah ooh!"  Am I right?

Wanted Dead or Alive.  As a Gen-Xer I can tell all you young'uns that it was something to behold indeed to see Jon and Richie do this one with just two acoustic guitars on live TV.  It gave me chills, man.  Chills.

I wish Raise Your Hands got more credit and airplay.  It would have been a hair rock standard if it hadn't been eclipsed by so many other songs on "Slippery."  God, I love Raise Your Hands.

I'd Die for You sounds like Runaway, only better.

And it closes with Wild in the Streets.  That track perfectly sums up the bridge between youthful senimentality and teenage angst - especially if (like me) you were a twelve year old boy when these songs came out.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  The Bon Jovi boys were clearly on a mission when they made this one.  This wasn't just one the many cash-ins that blemished the image of the genre.  This was the cash cow.  And the golden goose.

Up next, another selection from MY timeframe - Madonna's self-titled debut.

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