The Album Configuration
To do a single disc or a double disc...that is the question! If it were me making a decision, I would go with a comprehensive double-disc. While some may say that a single disc is the way to go, my main question is how many copies will it sell? Crossroad peaked at 4 million copies in the US and I believe around 18 or 19 million worldwide. It’s unlikely that a new single disc album will move major numbers in the long run with the advent of the Internet. Would people go out and download “It’s My Life” and “Who Say’s You Can’t Go Home” and call it a day or buy the new “Hits” package because it’s comprehensive?
A comprehensive “Hits” package would sell better off the bat and is more likely to continue to sell well over time. The fan base who is well into their 30’s and 40’s are more likely to make an impulse buy if it is comprehensive as many will be replacing old cassettes or lost cd’s. Surprisingly, many fans who attended the 2003 and 2005-06 tours whom I had discussions with, only had one or two Bon Jovi albums. The younger fans that have been won over the last few years would be more likely to purchase a 2-disc comprehensive compilation for $14.99 rather than shelling out $9.99 (or more) for 2 separate hits compilations. If that were not enough, it would also be a better artistic move. A full comprehensive 2-disc package would bring the past into focus and then when the next album happens, it will be the next chapter. Plus, if one cares about sales perks, RIAA certifications would be double with a 2-disc package. If this set sells 1.5 million off the bat, it will be certified for 3 million. Once the album ships 2 million copies, it would be certified for the same sales of Crossroad.
I do know one of the things that are very important to Jon Bon Jovi is the integrity of each and every one of the albums he releases. Anytime a band releases a “Hits” album, it hurts album catalog sales and in some cases (for some artists), it pushes those albums far from public consciousness. I’m merely going to offer suggestions below which will
a) Not alienate the fans when buying the set
b) Make the album a stand alone album and unique chapter in the bands career
c) Make each song unique to this package
Below you will find the songs which should be included on a 2-disc retrospective of the bands “Greatest Hits”. Where there are no comments below, it is the assumption that the standard album track will be used on the compilation.
“Runaway” (3:50 Remix)
Where it all began…while it’s a classic, has anyone ever thought of remixing it? This may give a fresh perspective to the song. Of the entire Bon Jovi catalog this is the only song that sounds dated to me. This may not be possible, but I bet it would be interesting to see what could be done with remixing the track. Another option would be to potentially have the members of Bon Jovi reclaim their song by replacing the original guitar, drum and keyboard tracks. While this is not a bad idea, I feel the remixing of the original masters would prove more beneficial and keep the integrity of the original recording.
“Tokyo Road” (5:42 Album Track)
Whether the band likes it or not, 7800 Fahrenheit should be represented on this album. “In & Out Of Love” has been represented previously on Crossroad and the live album and the inclusion of “Tokyo Road” will give new representation to this dark horse album. However, if any track has to be taken off to represent an underrated gem from “These Days” or a new song, I would delete this song.
“You Give Love A Bad Name” (3:42 Album Track)
The band's first top-ten and #1 single, an essential inclusion.
“Livin’ On A Prayer” (4:09 Album Track)
Four weeks at #1 qualifies this as the band's biggest charting single in American and just recently on VH-1, it was voted as the #1 song of the entire 1980's.
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” (5:08 Album Track)
A perfect classic rock cut that is arguably the band's most recognized song.
“Never Say Goodbye” (4:48 Re-recording)
“Never Say Goodbye” is a cult fan favorite and one that is deep in the public’s subconscious. I am not sure how the band feels about the album version, but considering it hasn’t been played in this arrangement since 1987, I would suggest an updated recording of the song should be included. This could be a stripped back arrangement focusing on acoustic guitars, much the way it has been performed on every tour going back to 1988. This would give a fresh face lift to the song and because it’s a rather beautiful arrangement many have heard before, it would not alienate the fans. It would also leave the studio version available solely on Slippery When Wet (in the US since it was included on all international versions of Crossroad)
“Lay Your Hands On Me” (5:59 Remix)
The video for this song is the most electric and rigorous live video ever created. It sells the live show better than any else in the video medium. Why not potentially remix the song (especially the intro) giving it a fresh 21st Century feel?
“Bad Medicine” (5:16 single edit)
With hits compilations there is always a struggle for room of songs and why not include the single edit of this song released to radio stations in 1988?
“Born To Be My Baby” (4:40 +w/ harmonica ending-no fade)
Based on interviews (mostly the 1988 ‘Rockline’ interview), I know that Jon wanted to include the harmonica at the end of the song, much like the way the song was performed live on the New Jersey tour. I am not sure if this was ever recorded or not, or if his idea was scrapped in the demo stage. If the recording exists, why not remix the song to include this version at the end without the fade-out, making the original version still only available on New Jersey, but at the same time giving the fans something they did not have before?
“Living In Sin” (4:39 Album Track)
The fifth top-ten hit from New Jersey deserves its rightful place on a “Hits” compilation.
“I’ll Be There For You” (5:46 Richie lead vocal)
This song has taken on a life of its own in concert, especially over the last two tours with Richie Sambora handling lead vocal duties. Richie’s voice is underutilized; why not maybe record a bluesier version for this package showcasing Richie Sambora’s vocals. Most die-hard fans would already have the original version from Crossroad or New Jersey, hence giving this package another selling point. However, considering this was a Number 1 hit, it may be difficult to mess with.
“Blaze of Glory” (5:40)
Album Track, unless there’s an option to re-record the song with the band. However, considering it was a #1 song it may be difficult to even consider doing this especially if the decision is made to update “I’ll Be There For You”.
“Keep The Faith” (5:46 Album Track)
The song that brought Bon Jovi into the 1990's is one of their most integral and essential tracks. A song that the band fought for and eventually through electrifying performances it became one of the band's essential songs.
“Bed of Roses” (6:35 Album Track/potential single edit depending on size of disc)
A top-ten hit proving the band could matter at the height of the grunge movement.
“In These Arms” (5:19 Album Track)
A fan favorite that reached the Top-30 and was missing from US versions of Crossroad.
“I Believe” (4:27 single edit-Clearmountain mix)
The second best concert opener the band ever had. It’s also the greatest anthem that was never a hit in the US. This edit of the track has never been released in America and it would give a vastly underrated song a new life.
“Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night” (4:39 Re-Recording)
Arguably their edgiest anthem, it’s a classic largely because it was available on Crossroad. However, as great as the track is, it truly found its footing live. I’m not a fan of live recordings on “Hits” packages but if one were to make an exception, I would take a recording from 2000/01 (Osaka 7/20/00), or better yet, why not re-record a very organic and quick take of the song giving it an updated feel, hence making the version of Crossroad unique?
“Always” (5:52/single edit)
The band's biggest international song and one that spent close to six months in the top-ten in the US (peaking at #2 in the UK).
“This Ain’t A Love Song” (5:06 Album Track)
The single reached #14 on the Billboard Top-100 and is an under appreciated classic. One of the best R&B influenced numbers the band ever recorded. Including it on this compilation will give it and all songs from These Days a new lease on life.
“Something For The Pain” (4:48 Album track)
Hands down the biggest hit song the band never had. This song would have been enormous if released at any other time than 1995.
“These Days “(6:27 Album track)
If time constraints keep the full version from appearing, an edit would suffice. This is still the band's definitive song from this album and deserves a place on a future collection.
“Diamond Ring” (3:46)
Maybe the bands biggest and best cult song. Originally performed on 'Rockline' in September of '88 and then performed two further times before finally appearing on These days. An album track or...include the recording done in 1992 for Keep The Faith which never has seen release.
“It’s My Life” (3:44 Album Track)
The song that proved that Bon Jovi always will matter.
“Just Older” (4:28 Album Track)
While the song was never released as a single, it's an essential concert staple and well received by all fans. This is more deserving of inclusion than any of the other singles off Crush.
“Everyday” (2:59 Album Track)
A single the band believed in but never quite took off, but it represents the Bounce album accordingly and should be represented.
“Misunderstood” (3:48 single mix)
Arguably the most quintessential Bon Jovi “hit” of the last five years, this single mix was given out to radio only in the US, it’s better than the album cut and would reintroduce the song to many.
“Have A Nice Day” (4:04 approx Remix)
The first of two big hits from the most recent album, Have A Nice Day. If you release the same version that's available on the album Have A Nice Day the album runs the risk of becoming irrelevant and all future sales may be stalled due to the singles being available on a “Hits” package. Why not remix this one…slightly. I heard the original mix of the song (the one that was recorded in 2004) and the one thing that jumped out to me was the bridge that followed the guitar solo. This helped bring the song down before a resounding finale and it was something I missed on the official release in 2005. Why not make a hybrid mix of the ’04 and ’05 versions giving the song a definitive and separate release? Largely use the 2005 master but add the post guitar solo bridge giving this version of the song a unique stand alone value.
“Who Say’s You Can’t Go Home” (4:40 Duet w/ Keith Urban)
The bands biggest hit since “It’s My Life”, however, the question can be raised, which version from Have A Nice Day to put on the “Best of”? The album track is the song in its original incarnation and its true version. However, the countrified version is the version that technically went to Number 1. However, I see a way out to please rock and country fans, while at the same time not making the album version(s) from Have A Nice Day irrelevant. Why not give the Keith Urban version another listen and potentially remix it? The way I see it, this version would please both of the rock audience (who won’t feel alienated by the Jennifer Nettles version) and the country fans (who will flock out to stores to buy this compilation specifically to support their new golden god). One other thing to consider is that Country music fans are among the few who still prefer to purchase product vs. downloading. The inclusion of a unique version that appeals to them would probably force their hands to purchase this compilation. Another advantage of having a 2-disc collection is that it will give these newer fans insight to a band they know of and plant the seeds for the next studio record and tour. Plus, it would keep both of the versions on Have A Nice Day relevant, as the original and the Number 1 single would be available solely on the studio album.
“Edge of a Broken Heart” (4:35 Album Track)
I know this was on the short list for Crossroad and should be on the next “Hits” package. On the “Radio & Records” chart it actually reached #40 in 1987 and is a song that received nationwide airplay. Those who wanted the song desperately bought the “Always” single or the box set, why not give the casual consumer another reason to buy this package? I know non-die hard fans that would not consider buying another Bon Jovi “Hits” package, but the inclusion of this song would tip the scale in favor of a purchase.
“Radio Saved My Life Tonight” (5:08 Album Track)
This is obviously the song the band feels most connected to from the box set since they perform it live often. It would be nice to add one song from the box set which many radio-only fans would not consider buying.
With a 2-disc compilation, there should be a total of upwards of four new songs. Does this mean the band should go to the drawing board and write four new songs? No. However, they should take the same approach that they did with Crossroad; record one brand new song and search the vault for a song that otherwise would never make it to a proper Bon Jovi album. While I do not have the knowledge of new songs that may have been written recently by the band, I’ll outline a handful of songs that should not take a lot of time to record/re-record if needed.
“Doesn’t Anybody Fall In Love Anymore?” 4:26
I’m not sure how many new songs the band has laying around but this song was demoed for New Jersey and was eventually recorded by Cher and became a minor Top-40 hit for Kane Roberts in 1991. If there was ever one ballad that potentially could have been a big hit for the band this would have been it. Since it wasn’t on the box set, why not re-record it for this package?
“Too Much Too Soon” (4:28)
Written on the same day as “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, the song has been spoken about in numerous interviews over the years but has never seen any kind of official release. It would be good to see the band re-record the song and include it on this compilation.
Another lost gem that did not make the box set and never saw any kid of official release. This was one of the first steps towards maturity for the band as songwriters and it deserves to see some kind of release. The song was performed at the Hammersmith Odeon on 1/10/90 and in Japan in 1991 and is rumored to have been demoed.
One of the ten best songs recorded for the last three studio albums and sadly it only saw an international release. This has one of the catchiest hooks the band has ever conceived and it deserves its place on an official Bon Jovi album (even if it’s included on the bonus disc).
Another radio ready hit that arguably should have made Have A Nice Day instead of Bo Bice’s album. However, this may find a good home here as a new track (if the band are unable to come up with anything on short notice) or as a bonus track on the third disc.
Wild Card Songs
The song selection of “Greatest Hits” discs is challenging because if you poll 100 different people, they will come up with 100 different track lists. Below I will outline “other” songs that could be chosen for the set depending on how diversified one may want this set to be.
“Shot Through The Heart” 4:25
The first two albums are widely overlooked by the band in concert and on all compilations to date (“Crossroad”, “One Wild Night”, “100 Million Fans…”). I have always felt the back to back pairing of this song and “Bad Name” would put both songs into context in concert, but if that’s not possible, why not do it on this compilation?
“Silent Night” 5:07
I personally feel this is the bands most underrated ballad and one I know some fans would still love to hear in concert today. It’s an unlikely contender for a “Hits” compilation, but this ballad is far superior to any of the ballads the band has recorded post “These Days” and would shed a new light of the 7800 Fahrenheit album.
“Miracle” 5:19 Album Track
The song hit Number 12 on the pop charts and would make a nice inclusion, but there may be more essential songs that deserve its place on the package.
“Stranger In This Town” (6:15)/ “Ballad of Youth” (3:55)
Richie’s Stranger In This Town solo album is arguably the most underrated disc of the last quarter century and it would be nice to have one song from his solo album make the cut. However, since this will be a “Greatest Hits” package, these two songs may need to stay on the sidelines, unless they were to be included on a third limited edition disc.
“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” 4:43
Album track and concert staple by the band. A good song but not one I would deem as "essential".
“Dry County” (6:00 single edit) Clearmountain mix
This is one of the most essential Bon Jovi songs in their cannon; however, its length practically excludes it from any compilation. However, if there is a bonus disc, why not potentially add a live version from Wembley Stadium on 6/25/95 (which is still unreleased, the live b-side was recorded at Milton Keyes in ’93, but these two versions are arguably the “definitive” versions of this song).
“One Wild Night” (4:18 Album Track)
“Captain Crash & The Beauty Queen From Mars” (4:31 Album Track)
From the album that resurrected the band, it's still performed live today and is a fan favorite.
“The Distance” (4:48 Album Track)
The best track on “Bounce” would have made an excellent single and could be given a new perspective from inclusion here.
Marketing of the Compilation
In recent years, there have been some creative ways in which acts have marketed their “Hits” packages. One of the best is a limited edition bonus disc which is empathized in the press release as “limited”. If this were to be a 2-disc compilation, simply add a bonus disc with a paper sleeve to the back of the package. Also, if there was a bonus disc, the RIAA would be able to certify the album platinum after 333,333 copies sold. Mention that it will be a “limited run” of this bonus disc but do not give a specific number. Bruce Springsteen successfully did this with his Essential release in 2003 where he not only appealed the collection to the average fan but gave his die-hard fans something as well with a disc of rarities. If 1-million copies ship of this compilation with a bonus disc, it could potentially be the bands highest certified RIAA album since Crossroad.
Also, since the band has numerous demos in their vaults, maybe make a separate “bonus” disc for downloadable services like iTunes? Maybe take pure demos of tracks already available on the bands albums and give this as the bonus for those who prefer to download. You can also make these available as individual downloads so "completist" fans don’t feel like they have to double dip for some rare versions of songs.
The next question is what to include on the bonus disc? Since it’s a bonus disc, it does not need the same structure a regular disc would need, so there is room for improvisation. Here are some suggestions I would offer up:
“Borderline” (rare 1986 b-side)
“Love Is War” (1989 b-side)
“Levon” (Elton John cover)
“The Boys Are Back In Town” (Thin Lizzy cover)
“Never Say Goodbye” (demo w/ Richie Sambora vocals)
“Diamond Ring” (1992 version)
“Blood Money” with extra lyrics
“Alive” (demo only released in Germany)
“One Wild Night” (live)
“Rosie” (re-recording duet w/ Jon and Richie sharing vocals)
“Hearts of Stone” (new studio recording of the Southside Johnny classic)
“Tokyo Road” (live in Rio 1990)
“Bang Bang/Shot Through The Heart” (live 1985)
“Breakout” (live in Japan 1984)
“Blood On Blood” (live 1988)
“Fields of Fire” (demo)
“Let’s Make It Baby” (demo)
“Wedding Day” (demo)
“Hey God” (demo)
“Something To Believe In” (demo)
“Backdoor To Heaven” (1988 demo)
“Love Hurts” (1988 demo)
“Keep The Faith” unreleased remix/dance version from 1992
“Shooting Star” (live from 1/10/90)
“We All Sleep Alone (live from 1/10/90)
“Sex Sells” (demo)
“The End” (demo)
The Album Cover
The band channeled Elvis for the box set, why not give props to the biggest band ever while adding a deeply personal touch? Why not mimic the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover? Take the four main members of Bon Jovi (in uniform) and put them up top in front and surround them with pictures of those among them who have made the last twenty-five years possible, along with chosen others whom the band admire and want to pay tribute to? Pictures could include: Hugh McDonald (one w/ long hair + one w/ shorter hair), Alec John Such, Doc McGhee, Obie O’Brien, Paul Korzilius, Matt and Tony Bongiovani, Dave Sabo, Desmond Child, Bruce Fairburn, Wayne Isham, Katie Agerta, Chip Hobart, Derek Shulman, The Sopranos, Southside Johnny, Bobby Bandiera, Jeff Kazee, Bill Belichick, John Kalodner, Dewey Phillips, etc…also include a picture of the band from earlier in their career (either the “Runaway” single cover or an outtake from the New Jersey sessions-this would follow the Beatles model). It would also tie into the “second half” of the bands career as this was a truly momentous occasion for the Beatles and ushered in the 2nd half of their career.
A cover like this would be a talking piece for the album and would bring attention to it. To add to the mystery, when the album is initially released, do not include a list of who is who. This builds interaction, enthusiasm and mystery to those on the internet where discussions will be rampant, which will create buzz that will build on fan sites and hopefully spill over into the music media. After the album has been in stores for some time, then put the names with the faces on the official website and then in future pressings of the album, include a list. A creative cover builds press and mystery which will in turn make the average music buyer seek out the album.
The Album Title: “Half Way There”
“Half Way There” not only alludes that the journey of Bon Jovi is far from over, but it’s also a lyric from one of their most popular songs (“Livin’ On A Prayer”). It could also tie in with the creative album cover encompassing the bands entire history up to now.
The Song Sequencing
Compilations are as tough to sequence as they are to pick songs for. You either attempt to be creative or you simply go with a strict chronological order. The fear with a chronological listing is all new songs must appear at the end and you run the risk that many fans may skip over those eras they are unfamiliar with and deserve to be heard. For example, the much underappreciated These Days album may be completely overlooked, but if you were to sandwich those songs on a non-linear compilation, you may surprise your listener with a newly discovered gem or it may force them to reevaluate their initial feelings about the song or time period it came from. Below is an attempt at sequencing and is by no means definitive, but merely a blueprint.
Lay Your Hands On Me (remix)
Have A Nice Day (2007 remix)
I Believe (Clearmountain mix)
This Ain’t A Love Song
New Song/ Wild Card
You Give Love A Bad Name
Radio Saved My Life/ Diamond Ring
Bed of Roses
New Song/ Wild Card
In These Arms
Something For The Pain
Living In Sin
Blaze of Glory
Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night
Livin’ On A Prayer
Born To Be My Baby
Edge of a Broken Heart
New Song/ Wild Card
Wanted Dead or Alive
I’ll Be There For You
New Song/ Wild Card
Keep The Faith
Who Says You Can’t Go Home (w/ Keith Urban)
Never Say Goodbye
It’s My Life
In short, I have hopefully outlined the advantages both artistically and financially of releasing a career spanning 2-disc retrospective for Bon Jovi. Not only would it be a better financial move, but it would have a longer imprint and a much more lasting impact in not only the marketplace but within the public’s mind as well, which in turn will be the first planting of seeds for the next world tour. One can hope!