Bon Jovi gets back to its rock roots on The Circle
The Circle (Universal)
As in the biblical story of Samson, Jon Bon Jovi seemed to lose his power after cutting his big hair in the early 1990s. Somehow, his titular hard-rock quintet digressed from the unstoppable power-pop of 1986’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” to the unmemorable schmaltz of 2000’s “Thank You for Loving Me”. The Circle, the 11th studio album for the New Jersey–spawned veterans, isn’t a full return to hirsute form for anyone who remembers buying 7800 ° Fahrenheit on cassette at A&B Sound. Still, this 12-track offering at least equals 1992’s Keep the Faith. Even if it applies the filters of U2 and John Mellencamp to the vintage Bon Jovi sound, it thankfully eschews the groan-inducing country-isms of recent albums.
Highlights include the proletarian air-punchers “We Weren’t Born to Follow” and “Work for the Working Man”, both brimming with the American never-say-die spirit that’s arguably our southern neighbour’s most attractive export, and a Bon Jovi trademark.
This album could have benefited from a Bob Rock production makeover. But once you’ve accepted that Bon Jovi never intends to compete again with Mí¶tley Crí¼e (and, viewed dispassionately, why would the band want to?), you can complete the circle.