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Exposed: Great Blues From Unlikely Sources

Bon Jovi

Love For Sale, New Jersey, Released 1968

Before you accuse me of giving blues a bad name, have a listen to Bon Jovi’s 1988 album New Jersey. Recorded in the aftermath of the stratospheric success of the Slippery When Wet album, the band’s fourth studio outing contains a couple of seriously great blues tracks among the classic hankie-drenching ballads (I’ll Be There For You, Living In Sin) and Springsteen-esque fist-pumpers (Blood On Blood, Stick To Your Guns).

The first blues, Homebound Train is an exhilarating guitar and harp-fuelled locomotive that hasn’t seen nearly enough exposure in the band’s live sets over the years. It’s a bit Zep, perhaps with a touch of Aerosmith, but ultimately the sound is uniquely Jovi.

Love For Sale is greater still. Ostensibly cut live in the studio, the song is a sign off on an album that’s apparently a triumph over a period of nervous exhaustion brought about by overnight success, and near-constant touring. What makes both tracks so outstanding is the guitar work of currently estranged member Richie Sambora. His spine-tingling solo on Homebound Train is counterbalanced by a dazzling barrage of acoustic licks and airtight rhythm on_ Love For Sale_. If ever proof was needed that Sambora wasn’t your regular hair metal purveyor of harmonic squeals and dumb stripper pole riffs, you can smack the prosecution around the chops with the brilliance of his contribution to Love For Sale.

If you think ‘The Jove’ are all Spandex, grins you could screen a movie on, loaded six-strings and playing for keeps, well, New Jersey offers you a chance to see what they could do with the blues.