Review Of Slippery When Wet — 4 years ago
Pop-metal is a guilty pleasure for me, and this album by the boys from Jersey is a primary reason for that. The first two singles, “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Livin’ On A Prayer”, may be the best songs to come out of mainstream music in the 80s. The rest of the tracks are rather less impressive, but the whole still stands as a monument to the genre.
The opener, “Let It Rock” is the kind of song of which every band needs one to open their shows and get the crowd fired up, short on substance but hard rocking. “You Give Love A Bad Name” is just exquisite pop, from the vocal intro, through the hooky main riff and alternating muted and squealing guitar through the verses, to the sing-along quality of the melody and the vocal chorus break after the guitar solo.
To realize that Jon Bon Jovi felt “Livin’ On A Prayer” was not good enough for the album is remarkable. In hindsight, it is difficult to see how it could have been anything but a massive hit. The bass and talk box riff draws the listener in, but Bon Jovi’s emphatic delivery, especially through the modulation, and the down-on-his-luck Everyman lyrics are what make it more than a good song.
“Social Disease” has many of the same qualities as the two big singles, but does not resonate with the same greatness. The country-esque “Wanted Dead Or Alive” sort of works as a ballad, but it always leaves me wishing it had ended earlier. The “loaded six-string on my back” analogy sounds trite in 2008, but perhaps it was novel in 1986.
The band gets closest to traditional metal on “Raise Your Hands”, which functions quite similarly to “Let It Rock”. The band’s schmaltziness works when combined with hard rock pretensions, but when left on its own in the ballads “Without Love” and “Never Say Goodbye” it becomes painful. “I’d Die For You” starts out as a good tune, but gets bogged down in a middle section that reeks of the sort of sugary sweetness discussed above. Thankfully, the band closes out with “Wild In The Streets”, a pleasingly straightforward rocker.