Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for January 26, 2024

[Runaway] -- Bon Jovi was released 40 years ago this week, on January 21, 1984. This was the debut album by the band Bon Jovi led by vocalist Jon Bon Jovi. Confused between album, band, or person? Let me explain a bit more.

Between 1980 and 1984, Jon Bon Jovi (born John Bongiovi) worked at Power Station, a recording studio in Manhattan. The studio had been co-founded by Bon Jovi's cousin, Tony Bongiovi, who probably provided the younger man's entry to the facility. Most stories I heard, as I recall, note that Jon Bon Jovi was mainly a janitor, or held some kind of all-around errands runner position, for the studio. But he had after-hours access, and he recorded several of his own demos there. 

A demo for "Runaway" got included on a local radio station's compilation album. After that song got more airplay in the NYC area, Jon Bon Jovi was able to snag a record deal. The label wanted a band name for the contract, and the label's own artists and repertoire department came up with ... Bon Jovi. 

Jon Bon Jovi put together the fledgling band lineup with the help of keyboardist David Bryan (who was David Rashbaum at that time). It was Bryan who brought in bassis Alec John Such and drummer Tico Torres. Bon Jovi's (the band, not the person) first lead guitarist was Dave Sabo, but he was replaced by Richie Sambora. This band played on all but one track of the debut album -- yep, "Runaway." The eponymous debut album used a 1982 recording of "Runaway" done with Power Station's studio musicians, The All Star Review.

"Runaway" was a top 40 hit in the US. The follow-up single, "She Don't Know," peaked at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is also the only song in Bon Jovi's catalog that was not written by a member of the band. Mark Avsec (of Donnie Iris & The Cruisers penned it. Bon Jovi, the album, peaked at #43 on the US Billboard 200. But a solid debut with some commercial success is only part of the popularity formula. The band also had to earn respect on the road. And that wasn't easy with this first record: I recall letters submitted to publications like CIRCUS Magazine that all but asked Bon Jovi to "please run away" -- apparently, some rock fans did not want Bon Jovi opening for their favorite acts.

Still, despite some vocal critics, Bon Jovi was a serviceable and energetic debut. Sure, it wears its lyrical and musical tropes on its sleeve. And just about every song here is about heartache or chasing after someone who caused heartache. But that's part of the charm of early 1980s rock music! So, if you're only familiar with "Runaway," here are a few very subjective notes for you. 

The albums three low points are "Love Lies," "Burning for Love," and "Come Back." I don't recall disliking them in 1984, and they're not truly terrible, but I'm pretty sure I didn't wear out the cassette over them -- except to fast forward to the next song. 

And here are my high points on the record, ranked with the highest first: 
  1. "Runaway" (of course)
  2. "Get Ready" (almost, but not quite, an anthem with its jump-up-and-down chorus exhorting the crowd, repeatedly, to "come on, come on, get ready"
  3. "Shot Through The Heart" (but surprisingly not about giving love a bad name)
  4. "Roulette" (a great, driving song)
  5. "Breakout" (seemed tailor made for an 80s movie) 
  6. "She Don't Know" (a standard song of "she don't even know my name" teen angst, but it's done well)
FlashbackBon Jovi (January 21, 1984)

And that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

No comments:

Post a Comment