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November 03, 2005

Bon Jovi's latest CD has Bob Dylan flavor

The five boys from Jersey set a personal best with the September release of their ninth studio album, "Have a Nice Day." Debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, Bon Jovi's "Have a Nice Day" marked the best-ever first week of sales for the group, selling over 200,000 units.

The title cut is a radio-friendly tune featuring highly infectious riffs by guitarist Richie Sambora, which drive this mainstream anthem about living life on one's own terms. Jon Bon Jovi's hallmark rebellious vocal delivery provides the perfect foil to the pseudo-sweetness of "Have a Nice Day," spitting out the lyrics "I ain't gonna do what I don't want to/I'm gonna live my life/Shining like a diamond/Rolling with the dice/When the world gets in my face/I say have a nice day."

Enlisting the help of Grammy award-winning producer John Shanks (Kelly Clarkson, Michelle Branch) was a stroke of genius for the overall cohesion of the album. Along with Jon Bon Jovi and Sambora, Shanks chose to layer the sound by recording each instrument separately, which offers the album a unique sense of depth and luminosity. Additionally, guest producer Rick Parashar carries on the sonic density that Shanks achieves, while adding his own organic flair to four choice tracks, including "Wildflower" and "Last Cigarette."

Bon Jovi gives a nod to Bob Dylan on "Bells of Freedom," which is a reference to Dylan's '60s protest song, "Chimes of Freedom." Jon Bon Jovi's personal involvement in John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid appears to have been the springboard for this song. However, his attempt at raising consciousness --- "Something inside makes you do what you got to do/Ring them bells, ring them loud/Let them ring here and now" --- is far too simplistic to capture the revolutionary spirit of Dylan's complex masterpiece.

"Last Man Standing" originally appeared in acoustic form on Bon Jovi's 2004 box set, "100,000,000 Fans Can't be Wrong." More compelling and forceful than the original, the reworked version is heightened by the deft licks of Sambora and bassist Hugh McDonald. Jon Bon Jovi says the "Last Man Standing" is Dylan, since icons Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Elvis have all died. "Their songs were more than music/they were pictures from the soul/So keep your pseudo-punk/Hip-hop pop rock junk/And your digital downloads/Here's the last man standing/Step right up he's the real thing."

The duet "Who Says You Can't Go Home?" with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles offers a homespun feel and universal themes. The song seems slightly out of left field on the record, yet it is certainly a fun way to conclude it. Overall, the album should satisfy die-hard, Aqua Net-sporting Bon Jovi fans. Unfortunately, "Have a Nice Day" has a few too many B-side worthy songs to make a significant impact on a younger, more sophisticated audience.


Posted by riesambo at November 3, 2005 10:22 AM