Posts Tagged ‘Bon Jovi’
It’s about three decades too late to be fishing for cred by quoting Marshall McLuhen, right?
Nevertheless, his “medium is the message” concept continues to ring true across all phases of society. And in the case of popular music, the mediums kinda suck when you think about it.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Whether you get squirrelly over vinyl, CDs, 8-tracks or cassette tapes (we’ve been hearing about this supposedly-pending cassette renaissance for forever), the reality is physical manifestations of music have always been mere vehicles. Accordingly, the message is the message and the medium is just something you store on your BENNO.
Now, this is the stage in the essay where vinyl purists tell me how music sounds “warmer” when played on a turntable. That’s fine. Have your moment….
Ok. So speaking personally (and from the heart), the music lover in me has no issue whatsoever acknowledging the fact I haven’t purchased music in hard copy form for at least 3-4 years as of this writing. And really, I have no imminent plans to do so any time soon… or ever again.
Sure, I do miss trolling the stinky walkways of Sonic Boom or shoehorning visits to Amoeba Music during every California pit stop. However, progress is progress and I now revel in making iPod playlists and wondering where the (heck) all the MP3s are on my hard drive.
So I’m positioning this as a eulogy of sorts to every record, cassette and CD I ever owned. To effectively put bookends on an era lasting (ballpark) from 1984 to 2009, here are my best recollections as to my first and last albums in each medium and some self-inflicted nostalgia with regards to the ownership of each.
First vinyl record: Van Halen – “Jump” 7″
Purchase year and retailer: 1984, A&A Records at The Shops on Steeles and 404 (ne: Markham Place)
My family did enjoy deep cuts from Sandra Beech and Sharon, Lois & Bram back in the day (note: the former’s performance at German Mills Co-op Nursery School Play Day 1983 was worthy of an At Budokan-type box set) but I will always “Jump” as the first piece of recorded adult music I ever owned. Which is ironic since the lyrics to “Jump” are pretty juvenile (especially the “Go ahead jump/Might as well jump” part). More background: my sister was heavily into Cyndi Lauper at the time and requested a 7″ of the noted women empowerment anthem “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. As a means of keeping the peace for my folks, I was able to choose a record as well and opted for “Jump” for some reason. A curious choice because while I thought the tune was completely OK and was fairly impressed with David Lee Roth’s dexterity in its video, I don’t really remember being completely in love with the song. In hindsight, I perhaps should have opted for the Cars’ “You Might Think” although in fairness, that probably would’ve been largely based on the fact that Ric Ocasek turned into a lipstick during the video.
Last vinyl owned: Talking Heads – More Songs about Buildings and Food
Purchase year and retailer: 1999, Cheapies in downtown Hamilton
The vinyl resurgence hadn’t quite kicked into full force in the late 1990s and thusly, you could still get a ton of nicked-up old records for next to nothing during this time. I really wanted to own the song “Artists Only” so I picked up this album for less than $1, even though I didn’t own a record player. Years later, I splurged on the CD and gave this vinyl version to my friend Mike although I seem to remember this record and Teenage Head’s self-titled debut sitting in my office for at least a year. Beside some office supplies.
First cassette: Rick Astley – Whenever You Need Somebody
Purchase year and retailer: 1988, Columbia Record and Tape Club
I’m going to write a full essay or two about record and tape clubs someday. They were kind of ubiquitous at the time and no doubt were responsible for a bulk of the Spin Doctors’ records sold, in general terms. The 12-for-a-penny deal was tantalizing although obviously a bit of a scam that preyed upon the lazy and dim-witted, since you were on the hook to buy 8-12 more albums (at wildly inflated prices) over the next year. Letting your kids enter a record club was somewhat comparable to letting your kids own a pet: they would promise to do the legwork but ultimately, you’d end up with a whole lot of dog crap. Case in the point: the unexpected comedy of my Dad unsuspectingly receiving a cassette of Robert Palmer’s Heavy Nova on cassette plus a bill for $18.43. Oops! Me and my sister shared a club membership in 1988. Because she was a year and a half older, she got to choose all the cool records: Def Leppard’s Hysteria, INXS’ Kick, U2’s The Joshua Tree, Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, etc. From what I recall, I chose such gems as Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life (was this album about drugs BTW?!?), Steve Winwood’s Roll With It (could you imagine a 10-year old listening to this in 2013?!?… different times) plus Rick Astley’s blue-eyed soul masterstroke Whenever You Need Somebody. Not sure why I didn’t get Chicago 19 as one of my choices, as I quite enjoyed the power ballad “Look Away”. I still do, actually.
Last cassette owned: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
Purchase year and retailer: 1998, Cheapies in downtown Hamilton
As mentioned, Cheapies had a ton of cheap vinyl and it also had a bin (some would call it a garbage can) full of orphaned cassette tapes that were missing their liner notes, cases or both. These retailed from anywhere between $0.10 and $0.50 although I bet if you asked REALLY nicely, you probably could’ve had them for free. I managed to fish the incredible debut from the Jesus and Mary Chain out of this rubbish pile and to this day, it remains in my Top 10 albums of all-time True story: I once listened to this cassette on a speeding motorboat. Please email me for the extended version of THAT extended version of that exciting story.
First CD: Sonic Youth – Washing Machine
Purchase year and retailer: 1995, Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street, downtown Toronto
I was fairly late to the CD game but I did eventually get a five-disc changer in advance of Sonic Youth’s 1995 show at the Warehouse in Toronto. I purchased Washing Machine alongside Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral (fairly cool) and Sponge’s Rotting Piñata (uncool) to christen the device. The album was pretty solid and the concert was great. Helium opened, much moshing ensued and me and my buddies chatted briefly with Brendan Canning (then of hHead, later of Broken Social Scene).
Last CD: The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir – Shyfolk
Purchase year and retailer: 2009, eBay
Early 1990s CanCon indie is a weird black hole in the Internet. Some cool YouTube videos have surfaced but there is a ton of cool music from that era that now seems wildly obscure considering it was fairly popular at the time. Ergo, the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir. These guys’ good-to-great albums lapsed out-of-print rather quickly so their music is a bit challenging to track down in hard copy form. I’ve managed to acquire three of these (1992’s Superior Cackling Hen, 1995’s Shyfolk and 2000’s best-of/rarities set 1985-1995). Shyfolk was the last of the three I purchased, on eBay for around $4.95 and quite possibly the last piece of physical music I ever own. Bye.
Bold statement: Bon Jovi enjoys a unique position in the modern popular music landscape. They are a 1980s “hair metal” band that somehow has stayed in the conversation with fans young and old alike while virtually all their peers have either long since perished or lapsed into self parody. The band has a bit of that HBO-thing going on => It’s not music. It’s Bon Jovi.
Bon Jovi may be the single biggest anomaly in stadium rock.
They appeared at the precipice of the hard rock/power ballad vortex (mid-1980s ballpark) and haven’t looked back since. In their own way, they LOOKED like a hard rock band and they made some noisy noises. However, they were never as aggro as Guns N’ Roses nor as annoyingly glib as Poison (two other fellow hard rock outfits that showed up largely around the same time).
Aside: If they were positioned differently, could the Replacements have had Bon Jovi’s career? Think about it…
– More or less, the same vintage and essentially, both were pretty traditional rock bands that could easily veer between “aggressive” and “sensitive”
– Bon Jovi were from New Jersey and the Replacements were from Minnesota so culturally, it’s a wash
– The Replacements were also known for having really big hair
– Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson easily could’ve fuelled a spread or two in Bop
Getting back to Bon Jovi…
Bon Jovi were easily one of the Top 5 rock bands of the late 1980s. Their hair was (collectively) immense. And somehow, they were the one stadium rock band of that era (with the exception of U2) that stuck together and stemmed the tide of every kind of music trend of the past quarter century. The fact they survived grunge alone is a miracle. I mean… this. 😐
Newsflash: Bon Jovi are still here!!! And young people love them!!! One would think they should be playing casinos but they’re still filling hockey arenas and castles and Wembley Stadium.
Theory: Bon Jovi never really have wavered from what they were and what they eventually became. They were clearly the kind of outfit that would elicit “What are you looking at, pretty boy?!?” cat calls from skids in bad jean jackets circa 1987. But I doubt they cared then and they certainly don’t care now… one would hope.
Bon Jovi has always been a slightly loud bar band at heart and from what I gather, their fans appreciate the honesty of their approach. This same kind of praise is often heaped on fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen. However, “The Boss” has rubbed certain people the wrong way offstage by being quite vocal about his politics (ironic since he mumbles) while in Bon Jovi’s case, their primary offstage goal is likely locating the craft services table.
Bon Jovi’s whole career is one of avoidance. This is meant as a backhanded compliment.
I recently spoke to Stacie and Lorena via Facebook chat. These are two 20-something Bon Jovi “super fans” who, well… they think Bon Jovi is just great and they have since they were small children.
It’s rare to see any band inspire this kind of longstanding fandom. I asked Staice and Lorena why they think Bon Jovi has been able to turn the trick.
Here is the “warts and all” transcript…
Cam (C): bon jovi members are in their 50s. you guys are not. whats up with THAT? do they inspire you?.
Stacie (S): i’ve liked them since i was a child. growing up having an older sister and a babysitter with siblings in their teens.
Lorena (L): i was exposed to the band. liked the music and it stuck. me, I discovered them in 7th or 8th grade, i think. it was for the crossroads albums. lots of slow dancing at house parties .
C: why did it stick and not whatever else you were listening to? no doubt, 98 degrees et all.
S+L: my love grew when i then went to their concerts – AMAZING.
C: what are your thoughts on the hair of bon jovi?.
S+L: hair – we love!! stacie wants to run her fingers through his hair.
C: is jon bon jovi (aka jon bon) the john stamos of rock and roll? your hair comment btw. that’s sexist.
S+L: not on the same level at all. bon jovi has the looks and the substance with the music.
C: john stamos is an underrated “song and dance” man but point taken. what song at the concert gets the biggest rise out of the crowd? assume “livin’ on a prayer”?… and who’s at the concert?.
S+L: lots – living on a prayer, you give love a bad name…then for slow song, always and bed of roses .
C: do they bust out the JBJ solo joint “bed of roses” from the major motion picture “young guns”? shoot, not “bed of roses”…. “blaze of glory”?
S+L: oh yeah..blaze of glory. big one too. there’s just so many cam.
C: the track “always” with the video featuring an artist. do you dream YOU were in that video?.
S+L: we are not that lame in that we dream about him every day. but if you are asking us if we would hook up with him, YES.
C: what does “hook up” mean?
C: also, are their senior citizens at the concert?.
S+L: screw you – no, it is a wide range in age yes, but not that bad.
C: ok, just a couple of more hard hitting questions..
C: is “jon bon” a great guy? meaning, do you think he cares about his fans???????.
C: do you like Aerosmith?
S+L: i used to but they havent really done anything new.
C: Steven Tyler is no “jon bon”. he’s far from “easy on the eyes”.
C: final question: is there a lot of yelping and squealing at the concert? is it very shrill?… and are people throwing items on-stage? teddy bears, flowers, “underthings”, etc.
S+L: yes it’s loud and there is screming but not like at a bieber concert…it’s more of the crowd singing along. no one throws anything….it’s not that kind of show.
C: sorry, one more question. are people standing during the concert? or only during certain songs?.
S+L: standing the entire time…there is not sitting at all.
C: people throw things at neil diamond and (i think) barry manilow. just sayin’..
S+L: standing and singing for hours.
C: sounds tiring. ok. this was useful. thank you lorena. thank you stacie..
C: … and by “gross”, you mean “neat”.
C: bye. thanks again!
S+L: lasting thought…they have great music but one of the reasons they have fans stillis because of their shows and the fact that a large portion of the music they play is old stuff and they tour A LOT.
C: i just don’t get why they still play stadiums. they’re in a very small group of bands who do this.i think “jon bon” has aged well and he’s a great guy. that’s my assessment.do you find bono from U2 attractive?.
S+L: bono, not really. jon is HOT. he’s aged really well.
C: his skin looks supple. you know, he used to look a bit like a lion with that hair, right?.
S+L: i know. his best hair days, i think, were back in the always days.
C: i guess lions aren’t ugly per se. i like when they’d all line up and SHAKE their hair..
S+L: ha ha.
C: oh, one other thing why people like him… he smiles on-stage. it looks like he’s having fun up there..
S+L: and he KNOWS how to work the camera.
C: he flashes the ladies in the front row those “pearly whites” and they’re like putty in his hands.
S+L: he knows when he’s getting filmed for a close up for the big screen and works a smile and his eyes. also, he seems genuine and authentic.
C: he knows what angles work best for him. stamos is pretty cool too, no?.
S+L: not like he is trying to be younger or “cool”, he likes the music he does and isnt trying to be something he isnt. stamos is good looking yet, but i dont see him as a musician.
C: all their songs from 1995 onwards. i don’t like those really cheesy backing vocals. the ones that go “whooaw, whooaw… whooaw, whooaw”. it almost sounds auto-tune-y. stamos rocked the bongos for the beach boys… so there’s that.
S+L: dont get me wrong, i love uncle jesse, but not on the same level.
C: you “love” him but you’re not “in love” with him. who would win a fist fight…. jon bon or uncle jesse?.
S+L: im not 12 cam, im not in love with either of them although given the choice, i pick jon over stamos.
C: you just said you love uncle jesse. it’s documented. maybe you love him like a friend?
S+L: lol. you know what i mean! its not like a bieber fever thing.
C: in a way.
S+L: i love the bon jovi band, not just jon.
C: do you admire richie samborra for overcoming his substance abuse issues?
S+L: i want him to do well, yes.
C: he should keep his mouth shut and knock it off with those backing vocals. does jon bon jump around on stage? does he highkick a la david lee roth circa 1981?.
S+L: he moves on the stage and gets into it but not over the top no.
C: a lot of holding his arms out, i bet… like he’s gonna hug the crowd, right?.
S+L: i dont enjoy the mocking tone here cam.
C: hey, it’s a solid move. he knows what his audience wants and he delivers. i’m being dead serious. it’s refreshing to have somebody on-stage smiling..
S+L: have you ever seen jbj in concert? if you did, you would get why they are still around.
S+L: we have 7th row tickets, we’ll take pics and share them with you .
C: nice. ok, i think i’m convinced. the “not trying to be cool” part reasonates. this makes a bit more sense..
S+L: its authentic that is sooooo rare nowadays.
C: most musicians are pretty dull. agreed.they’re either dull or jerks or massive blowhards. jbj does seems like a legit nice guy. very stamos-esque and doesn’t have a big attitude problem..
S+L: he also does great charity work.
C: it’s like he said in the tune “I’ll be there for you”… “when you get drunk / i’ll be the wine”. actually, that doesn’t apply.
S+L: ha ha.
C: ok, i have to go. thanks for this. enjoy the show. bring projectiles. manilow it up!.
S+L: thanks. we will definitely send you a review.
C: please do. buh-bye!