Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...
Alter Bridge “AB III”
I haven’t really gotten into Alter Bridge all that much, despite my admiration for Myles Kennedy, the lead vocalist with one of the best voices in rock today. The band always seemed to be a bit restrained, still tethered to Creed and uncertain where their niche was in the musical climate of the day. If anything can be said about “AB III” is that the band sounds a lot more confident of its footing. “Slip To The Void” is a seductive way to kick off the record, luring you in with a slow pace that you know is going to explode at any moment. “Isolation” is pure shredding rock, what you would expect from a band that recently moved to the Roadrunner music label. But for me, the band is at its best on more melodic tracks like “Ghost Of Days Gone By” and “All Hope Is Gone”. Other standouts include “I Know It Hurts”, “Breathe Again”, and the remarkable ballad “Wonderful Life”. An ambitious 16 song opus, “AB III” should satisfy its fan base, and with their inclusion of more accessible radio-ready tunes this time out, may even expand that base.
Bon Jovi “Greatest Hits/Ultimate Collection”
Considering the number of 80s hard rock bands that have gone down in flames never to be heard from again, it is quite the miracle that Bon Jovi not only escaped unscathed, but emerged to rack up a whole new consortium of younger fans. By softening their sound and going for the commercial jugular, the band deserves a lot of credit for successfully navigating the choppy and uncertain waters of the present musical tide. The band has been around for over 25 years cranking out hit album after hit album, so one disc really isn’t enough to fit all of their hits. And in recent times, the criteria for what makes a “hit” are less clear. Either way, I’d recommend you go for the 2 CD collection rather than the single disc – more of the hits, plus four new songs (whereas the single disc only gives you 2 of the new songs). Even with the two CD set, there are some unfortunate omissions. There are no songs from the albums “7800º Fahrenheit” or “Bounce”, and the songs “Never Say Goodbye”, “Misunderstood”, and “Living In Sin” should be here rather than “When We Were Beautiful”, “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night”, or “Blood on Blood”. Even Jon Bon Jovi’s solo tune “Miracle” was technically a bigger hit than these (and yes, they do include his monster solo smash “Blaze Of Glory” from the same soundtrack). But beauty is in the ear of the beholder, and it is easy enough these days to make your own Bon Jovi playlist – in that context, I’m not sure why bands even bother with these compilations anymore. In terms of new songs, “What Do You Got” is a sluggish but melodic tune and “The More Things Change” would have fit nicely on “Lost Highway”. I liked the arena-ready “This Is Love This Is Life” better.