Tidal Catalog #38: Bon Jovi

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to an artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also thought that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Fast forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for too many details.

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • However, compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.
  • Entrance Point: I was a Bon Jovi fan. Too embarrassed to admit it back in the day but now I’ll wear my “Bad Medicine” t-shirt proudly. That said, I had stopped listening to the band after 2002s Bounce and only knew the singles past that point.

All albums ranked on a 10 scale:

  • Bon Jovi (9)

Well, it might seem weird to have Bon Jovi’s debut album in the first slot before some of the classic records and especially when Jon Bon Jovi himself has said that they weren’t even a good band until the third album but despite the 9 million hair metal cliches on this record, it’s the most consistent with the least amount of filler. It only had one minor hit in “Runaway” and certainly hasn’t stood the test of time, nor would I even recommend you go back to it to hear how they started as a band but tracks like “Breakout” and “Come Back” are real good songs. It even weirdly enough has a song called “Shot Through the Heart” which is not an older version of “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Jon must have really liked saying that.

  • Have A Nice Day (9)

1995’s These Days saw the band get rid of most of their hair metal sound and move more to straight rock, but it was 2000’s Crush that kind of moved them to a more “adult” sound and with that, they went from a band your sister loved to a band your mom loves. The best of these adult records is 2005’s Have a Nice Day. It benefits from having a pretty great lead single in the title track and follow ups “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and “Welcome to Wherever You Are” are some of the better tracks Bon Jovi has released in the last couple decades. There’s certainly not much variety on this record as Jon wrote a dozen tracks with the same general vibe but it’s consistently good and that’s way more than I can say for most Bon Jovi records.

  • Slippery When Wet (8.5)

Slippery When Wet was much lower in my original post on Facebook but I decided to bump it up to #3 after listening to it again – I’m not 100% sure I should have but it is what it is at this. I try not to let nostalgia get in the way of the actual music and the non-singles tend to play out like filler but this damn record sold 28M copies worldwide on the basis of “You Give Love a Bad Name” “Livin’ on a Prayer” “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Never Say Goodbye,” which are some of the greatest songs of the hair metal genre.

  • Lost Highway (7)

Lost Highway is Bon Jovi’s country record, except well, it’s not. Sure, there’s a song with LeAnn Rimes and a song with Big & Rich on here and the title track has an inkling of that crossover country appeal but that’s it, an inkling. This album is another pretty consistent rock record and if a little pedal steel and some violins make this a country record, so be it. But in all the times I’ve listened to this, I’ve never thought of it as country. I can see why it appeals to the country crowd for sure as it’s got a bit more of a laid back vibe than most Bon Jovi records even in their later period and it’s the only record from them that has this overall sound but to me, this is just a chill version of Jon and the gang.

  • New Jersey (7)
  • Bounce (6.5)
  • Keep the Faith (6)
  • Crush (6)
  • 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong (6)
  • The Circle (5.5)
  • This House is Not For Sale (5.5)
  • One Wild Night (5)
  • Inside Out (5)
  • These Days (4)

There was once a dude named…oh, well, I don’t really know his name but he works at the record store by my house and he’s straight out of hair metal nation circa 1988 – lives and breathes the stuff. If he had said to me that he was in a third tier band like Jackyl or the Bulletboys, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about it. And at one point in 2019, I was in the store and he was playing Bon Jovi’s These Days. He started having a full conversation with another customer about how this is the best Bon Jovi record, full of great rock tunes and grunge tracks that make it clearly underrated and the most well crafted LP they have. I always think back to that conversation and wonder what he was smoking. This is a different record for sure and it’s grunge-y, trying to fit in with the era but it was also 1995, so they hit the tail end of it already. And really, the tracks are dull. They don’t have nearly the same punch as at least the hits do and thus, it all just sort of blends together. I mean, I’ve had conversations with this dude at the store before and he really knows his shit but I guess everyone is wrong sometimes. Except me. [laugh people, it’s a joke]

  • What About Now? (4)
  • This House Is Not For Sale – Live from the London Palladium (4)
  • Burning Bridges (3.5)
  • 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit (3)
  • This Left Feels Right (2.5)

Summary: 19 albums, average 5.6

Tidal Catalog #37: Kiss

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to an artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also thought that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Fast forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for too many details.

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • However, compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.

Entrance Point: I was never a Kiss fan growing up but maybe that was because I was a child of the 80s and collecting 80s music, led me to their really shitty albums first. I also have never seen them live, so never got the Kiss experience. So honestly, I came into this one expecting the worst.

Included: The four solo records from 1978 as they are as much a part of Kiss lore as many of their other records.

All albums ranked on a 10 scale:

  • Kiss – Alive! (9.5)

You’re going to see that I don’t have a whole lot to talk about in this catalog – simply because Kiss don’t mean anything to me like they do millions of people in this country. Had I seen them live, maybe they would. Had this album not come out in 1975, one year before I was born, I might have. But apart from “Rock and Roll All-Nite” and maybe “Deuce” on this album, the songs don’t hold any deep meaning for me. I give this a 9.5 out of respect more than anything else. I enjoyed the record and I’d bet it does capture the energy of the live show but are the songs really that good? I don’t know really but what I do know is that in a very average to poor catalog, Alive! is the top of the heap and surely one of the better live albums in history.

  • Kiss – Kiss (9)

The self titled debut album is the best studio album in the catalog simply because the songwriting was top notch on this one. Kiss got their best 10 songs out of the way early and it was all downhill from there. I’ve never thought any of these guys were great musicians and I would find it hard for anyone to argue that, no matter what your opinion of the band is but the four original members play off each other well on this one and the entire album rocks. “Strutter” is a great introduction to the band and “Nothin’ Left To Lose” and “Deuce” still sound pretty solid today. If you want Kiss at their most creative in the studio, this is where you should go.

  • Creatures of the Night (9)

1982’s Creatures of the Night is the only true metal album in Kiss’ catalog. Apart from the silly first single “I Love It Loud,” the album has the heaviest riffs of any album in the catalog. This was the first record for Vinny Vincent and he brought the heaviness for sure. And the ballad, “I Still Love You” might actually be the best song on the disc in the end. Tracks like “Creatures of the Night” “Killer” and especially “War Machine” might not have stood the test of time but they are fierce tracks on a sneaky good metal disc for the early 80s.

  • Love Gun (9)
  • Dressed To Kill (8.5)
  • Hotter Than Hell (8)
  • Dynasty (8)

Dynasty is an awesome album in a sort of half-assed Kiss way. It’s their 1979 disco record and it’s fun as hell! But disco just isn’t Kiss and so, in putting a ranking to this, I couldn’t place it as high as I would have had this been any other group because it’s just kiss. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” is as much Kiss as any other song when you look back in history but it’s fucking jolting when you’ve listened to a mess of rock records in a row. But I love both “Charisma” which is only one of two songs that Gene Simmons sung and “Hard Times” which is a rock written and sung by Ace Frehley. About half of this are pretty fun rock songs and half disco tunes but it’s just the type of album for a non-Kiss fan like me to enjoy.

  • Lick It Up (8)
  • Ace Frehley (8)

Dynasty was the first Kiss album that Ace sang lead on but a year earlier, the world got a full taste of his vocals on what was easily (and I mean by a long shot) the best of the Kiss solo records. Ace’s record is the one that stays the closest to the Kiss sound, filled with well constructed rockers and a bit of power pop as well. I think it was clear after these four solo records that Frehley was the most talented musician in the band and that the other band members were clearly better together than separated.

  • Unmasked (7.5)
  • Alive II (7.5)
  • Rock and Roll Over (7)
  • Monster (7)
  • Kiss Rocks Vegas (6.5)
  • Destroyer (6)
  • Kiss Symphony: Alive IV (6)
  • Music from the Elder (6)
  • Carnival of Souls (5.5)
  • Animalize (5.5)
  • Gene Simmons (5)
  • Sonic Boom (4.5)
  • MTV Unplugged (4.5)
  • Alive III (4)
  • Crazy Nights (2.5)
  • Peter Criss (2.5)
  • Paul Stanley (2)
  • Psycho Circus (2)
  • Asylum (1.5)
  • Hot in the Shade (1)

Yes, I did just drop down 20 records to talk about Hot in the Shade next. Why? Because those 20 are all just average-to-poor generic Kiss records. There’s really very little that stands out on any of them. That’s not the case all the way down here though. This was 1989 when Kiss tried making a hair metal record which resulted in nearly an hour of the most horrifying rock songs imaginable. There’s 15 fucking tracks on this record when in reality, maybe one or two have any redeeming qualities. And of course there’s “Forever” the infamous hit single written by Michael Bolton of all fucking people. That should have been grounds for removal of their rock card but people still ate this terrible record up.

  • Revenge (1)

Bad heavy metal, ballads, funk metal? Holy shit, 1992’s Revenge is amazingly unlistenable and worse than Hot in the Shade thanks to what might be their two worst songs of all time – the funk metal “Spit” which took both Gene and Paul to write this dreck and the acoustic ballad “Every Time I Look at You.” This worked for more talented musicians like Extreme but this is just silly coming from Kiss.

Summary: 30 albums, average 5.72