Bon Jovi — love 'em or hate 'em — not only ushered in a new rock era but became the archetype of music in the late Eighties. Every band wanted to look, sound and sell like Bon Jovi, but few did.
With Let It Rock, UK-based rock writer Neil Daniels digs into 1986's Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi's third release and the album that started it all. This quick and entertaining book explores how and why the record was made, as well as the music and events that both preceded and proceeded it.
Daniels provides song-by-song analysis; a complete "Tour Without End" itinerary; commentary from rockers like Don Dokken, Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Franklin and Mike Tramp — Billy Squier's quotes are particularly revealing — and short opinion pieces from such respected critics as Dean Pedley and Joe Matera. Classic Rock Revisited's Jeb Wright provides an alternate (albeit misguided) opinion of the album, writing that he "would rather be stripped naked, covered in honey and fire ants and hung from a meat hook above an open flame, all the while being forced to listen to Celine Dion" than sit through Slippery When Wet (or anything else by Bon Jovi, for that matter).
Worth noting for SoT readers is that Gentle Giant's Derek Shulman — who signed Bon Jovi to Polygram Records when he was the label's senior vice president of A&R — wrote the short afterword.
In case you forgot: Slippery When Wet was released in August 1986 and spent eight weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart. It spawned three Top 10 singles ("Livin' On a Prayer," "You Give Love a Bad Name" and the era's defining power ballad, "Wanted Dead or Alive") and was named Billboard's best-selling album of 1987.
Daniels' admiration for Slippery When Wet is real, and he gives Slippery When Wet's follow-up record, New Jersey, its just due. But, like the author's many other books, this one reads like a rush job — with too many typos ("Superball" instead of "Super Bowl"!) and an overly chummy, online-message-board style ("Jon Bon Jovi" is often referred to as "JBJ"). And if you're a fan, you probably already know most of the information here.
That said, reading Let It Rock convinced me to dust off my copy of the album and listen to it with new ears. Turns out "Social Disease" really isn't as bad as I remembered…