Have a Nice Day
"What you get ain't what you see," sings Jon Bon Jovi on "Complicated," one of the fist-pumping highlights of his namesake group's new album. On the contrary, Bon Jovi has sold millions of albums and outlived many a hair band by delivering the kind of straightforward, crunch-and-munch rock that is tailor-made for tailgate parties and stadium sing-alongs. The quartet's latest is no exception, showing that even in their 40s and 50s, these dudes still give anthemic pop-metal a good name. Working through-out with Grammy-winning producer John Shanks, best known for his work with such pop princesses as Kelly Clarkson
, Ashlee Simpson
and Hilary Duff
, Bon Jovi pumps up the hooks and the guitars on tracks like the sneering title tune, whose defiant spirit echoes past hits like "It's My Life." The New Jersey-bred rockers also stay true to their working-class sensibilities on cuts such as the catchy chugger "Who Says You Can't Go Home" and the trademark power ballad "Welcome to Wherever You Are." However, they succumb to their cheesier instincts on the bombastic "Bells of Freedom," which rings decidedly hollow.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Who Says You Can't Go Home"
B.B. King & Friends: 80
To mark the occasion of his 80th birthday on Sept. 16, B.B. King has released this surprising, exhilarating album on which the renowned blues guitarist performs with 12 pop-star pals. And 80 finds King, still a fixture on the blues club circuit, playing and singing with the vigor, freshness and clarity of a man 50 years his junior. In fact, if anyone has to keep up, it's such A-list guests as Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow
and Roger Daltrey. Eric Clapton certainly holds his own on the electrifying "The Thrill Is Gone," as does Mark Knopfler, who on "Hummingbird" rises to the exalted standard of his collaborations with Chet Atkins. And Elton John, exercising the blues muscle he usually sublimates, helps King turn "Rock This House" into a three-minute clinic on R&B. Gloria Estefan, Glenn Frey and John Mayer are also on board; it's interesting to speculate on who else should have been included: Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and, if he had lived to join in the party, Ray Charles. As it stands, however, this is a noble testimonial to one of the masters of pop music.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "The Thrill Is Gone"
Twenty-five years ago Barbra Streisand teamed up with producer Barry Gibb to make the easy-listening classic Guilty
, one of the best—and best-selling—albums of her career. To celebrate the album's silver anniversary, the two have reunited for a satisfying sequel that will be a pleasant nostalgia trip for fans of the original. Indeed, the CD recaptures the signature sound of post-Saturday Night Fever
Bee Gees that marked Guilty hits like "Woman in Love," "What Kind of Fool" and the Grammy-winning title track. As on Guilty
, the new disc includes two full-fledged duets with Gibb, the '60s-inflected "Come Tomorrow" and the lush, lilting "Above the Law," one of several bossa-nova-tinged numbers. Gibb also sings backup throughout Guilty Pleasures
, providing sweet harmony for La Streisand's typically sterling vocals. And he's not the only Gibb on board: Eldest sons Ashley and Stephen Gibb cowrote much of the disc with their dad. Hey, nepotism that works this well is nothing to feel guilty about.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away"
Walking Among the Living
With the easy polish of Vince Gill and the wry quirkiness of Lyle Lovett, Randall breathes life into this varied, richly rewarding album. Randall's lyrics have a graceful, evocative assurance: "So let the willow weep a little harder/And let the dirt roads all lead out of town," he sings on "No Southern Comfort." And "North Carolina Moon" is a nostalgic, appropriately picturesque tribute to that state. Randall has released two discs without making much of a dent in the public consciousness. If there's any justice, that'll change with this superlative effort.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "North Carolina Moon"
Fall Out Boy
The Chicago-based punk-pop band recently landed the Top 10 single "Sugar, We're Goin Down," off the quartet's gold major-label debut, From Under the Cork Tree
ON THEIR BAND NAME "It comes from a kid yelling it out at a show," says bassist-lyricist Pete Wentz, 26, adding that since then "we've come to find out that [Fall Out Boy] is a lesser-known Simpsons character."
ON MEETING JAY-Z "He came out to one of our shows," says Wentz. [Jay-Z is CEO of Def Jam, which is affiliated with Fall Out Boy's label, Island Records.] Adds guitarist-lead singer Patrick Stump, 21: "That was such a big deal for us. I don't think anything tops that,"
ON GETTING RECOGNIZED IN PUBLIC "The only time I get recognized is at really awkward times," says Wentz. "I was at Best Buy and my credit card got declined. Then a girl came over and got an autograph on the back of the 'declined' receipt. You sell 50,000 records a week and your credit card gets rejected for $50."
ON STILL LIVING WITH THEIR PARENTS "We're the Lost Boys," says Stump. Adds Wentz: "I'll be honest—I have a Peter Pan complex. I'm almost ready for the green tights. My house has always been the same since I lived there. My room's the same. And it's nice to have one place in the world that's like that."
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- Chuck Arnold,
- Ralph Novak,
- Kelly Williams.