One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001

Not Rated

Jon Bon Jovi has never been very high on rock's list of bad-ass mofos, so it's not altogether shocking that it took fifteen or so years for him to find — as the title of this live collection implies — One Wild Night to look back on. Truth be told, the fifteen tune set isn't culled from a single night: It's more an exercise in time travel and/or mad science, stitching together bits of mid-Eighties cock-rock, maturity-portending power ballads and odd nuggets of historical interest. The latter items are perhaps the album's most interesting — particularly a surprisingly effective rendition of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World," recorded in Johannesburg when the dust from apartheid's collapse was still hanging in the air. Given the overweening slickness that has coated Bon Jovi's studio output over the years, it's nice to hear the band loosen up a little on punchy versions of "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Bad Medicine." But while simplicity proves to be a saving grace for the Bic-sponsored rockers, it drags the sensitive-guy stuff down to sub-Hallmark level, particularly "Keep the Faith" and a version of "Wanted Dead or Alive" that could pass for a public service announcement against engaging in mass public karaoke. There's something to be said for presenting the alternately bloated and buoyant spectacle of a Bon Jovi concert in all its unrepentant hugeness. But there's also a nagging feeling that the innocent abandon chronicled in these grooves is a thing of the past, leaving a whiff of mustiness that's more history museum than stadium stage.

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