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Album review: Bon Jovi's 'The Circle'

November 9, 2009 |  5:36 pm
BonJovi240 "Who's gonna work for the working man?" wonders Jon Bon Jovi on the new album by the long-running outfit that bears his name. Well, Bon Jovi is up to the job: On "The Circle" this band of Jersey boys makes a recession-appropriate return (after appealing forays into pop and country) to its old blue-collar arena-rock style; "Work for the Working Man" even recycles the pumping talk-box groove from the band's 1986 smash "Livin' on a Prayer," and lifts the factory-floor sound effects from Billy Joel's "Allentown" for good measure.

These guys obviously mean business when it comes to the victims of big business.

Produced as were the band's previous two discs by Top 40 staple John Shanks, "The Circle" shows off Bon Jovi's still-sharp knack for wedding blandly optimistic sentiments to predictably soaring choruses. Unfortunately, it's getting pretty hard to tell one song from the next: First the singer's telling us "We Weren't Born to Follow," then he's remembering "When We Were Beautiful"; later, he reveals that "Love Is the Only Rule" before demanding that we "Learn to Love."

After all that sloganeering, "Fast Cars," near the end of the album, appears to promise something simple, refreshing, maybe even Ramones-like. Alas, no dice: "We are fast cars on the inside," Bon Jovi proclaims over a cascade of surging power chords. "There's no turning back on the highway of life."

-- Mikael Wood

Bon Jovi
"The Circle"
One and a half stars (Out of four)