1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 373

Cross Road, by Bon Jovi
Suggested by John Ingham

I’m a Leeds man now, but that wasn’t always the case. Originally, I hail from Birkenhead.

Birkenhead is famous for many things. Birkenhead Park, for example, was one of the first large-scale public parks in the world, the maps and plans of which were used in the commissioning of New York’s Central Park. Paul O’Grady is from Birkenhead. It’s also the home of the famous Cammell Laird Shipyard, birthplace of Battleships, Destroyers, Aircraft Carriers, and the RRS Sir David Attenborough, aka Boaty McBoatFace.

The UK shipbuilding industry was in decline for years, long before I moved to Leeds. An ex-flatmate of mine, Tom, used to work at Cammell Laird, in an entry-level role, and he hated it. The pay was lousy despite the backbreaking labour, and the hours were long despite the Union’s complaints. Eventually he took voluntary redundancy, which put a big strain on his relationship with his fiancée. The walls in our flat were pretty thin, and sometimes I’d hear them arguing about money. Understandable, I guess, as they had to get by on her waitressing wage. Tom had hoped to bring in some cash by teaching guitar – he was actually really good – but he sold his equipment for rent so that didn’t pan out.

It actually got pretty bad. I remember one argument they had in which Georgina (the fiancée) told Tom that she was thinking of leaving, but thankfully he managed to convince her to stay. He had quite a way with words to be fair, he was wasted at that shipyard. He said to her, “Gina, darling… We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got. It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not. We’ve got each other, and that’s a lot, for love… We’ll give it a shot.” *deep breath* “WOAH, WE’RE HALF-WAY THERE…”

Aaaand, scene.

In case you were wondering, that was all nonsense.

Bon Jovi! Everyone loves these guys, right? Hell, I certainly do. To a point, at least.

Cross Road is a Best of Compilation album that houses all the bangers you’d realistically expect, including Livin’ On A Prayer, You Give Love A Bad Name, Keep The Faith, Wanted Dead or Alive, Bed of Roses, my favourite Bad Medicine, and more. In fact, there’s likely not a bad song on the entire album. If you’re listening to the UK version, that is: the US version removed the unreleased-in-America In These Arms and replaced it with some godawful “upscale” remake of Livin’ on a Prayer called Prayer 94. Atrocious.

John Bon Jovi’s got a great voice that oozes character, Ritchie Sambora’s guitar is nigh-on legendary, and the band’s song writing skills are beyond reproach. Unfortunately, in the Nineties the band leant hard into Cowboy and Ballad territory, so much so that they actually sound like double denim. The Cowboy thing I can excuse, as most of it was for the Young Guns 2 soundtrack. The Overblown Ballads? Sarah says they netted the band countless teenage female fans, who would sit at the back of their classrooms and write out song lyrics on their folders in pink glittery pen. Sarah was fourteen when this album was released, so she speaks from experience.

Cross Road gets a fine 7/10. I hope the band Never Say Goodbye to my playlists.

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