Album Review: Bon Jovi – “Slippery When Wet”

Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet was released in 1986, during the time that “hair metal” was successful in the mainstream.  Slippery When Wet was the band’s third studio album, was a number one album on the Billboard 200 album chart, and it is also the band’s best-selling album to date.  I remember hearing some of the singles on the radio and seeing the videos on MTV, and I got a cassette copy of this album for Christmas in 1987.  Slippery When Wet contains some of my all-time favorite Bon Jovi songs.

Slippery When Wet opens with “Let It Rock,” a song that takes a while to build up; but once it gets going, you can hear the sound that ultimately dominates the album.  Next on the album is “You Give Love a Bad Name,” which was released as a single and went on to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  “You Give Love a Bad Name” has become one of Bon Jovi’s most infamous and popular songs.  As the title implies, it’s a song about a relationship gone bad.

“Livin’ on a Prayer,” one of the singles on the album, tells the story of Tommy and Gina.  They’re a couple going through hard times, and trying to have faith that things will work out.  In a lot of ways, I think this song resonates with listeners more now than it did at the time it was released, especially in light of the state of the economy at the time I’m writing this review.  This is followed by “Social Disease,” which is a more “pop” sounding upbeat number, which talks about love as a “social disease.”

Next on Slippery When Wet is “Wanted Dead or Alive,” which was another single released from the album.  Lyrically, this song uses cowboy imagery as it talks about the fame that Bon Jovi was starting to gain in their career.  This is followed by “Raise Your Hands,” which picks up the tempo, and is a song about trying to start a relationship.

“Without Love” is the first of two “power ballads” to appear on Slippery When Wet.  In the verses, there are vignettes told about people who are down on their luck and feel like they are living without love.  “I’d Die for You” picks the pace of the album back up, and it’s a song about a man who loves the woman he’s with, but he doesn’t always know how to express his love for her.

“Never Say Goodbye” is the second “power ballad” on Slippery When Wet, and it was released as a single from the album.  In the song, the speaker is remembering a relationship that fell apart.  The album closes with “Wild in the Streets,” which picks the tempo back up, and it’s about a boy named Joey and the girl he’s dating.

In my opinion, Slippery When Wet is the best album that Bon Jovi recorded.  It had a very strong sense of commercial appeal for its time, and many of the songs can still stand strong over twenty years later.  Slippery When Wet is an album I still pull out to listen to on a regular basis.

I wrote this review after listening to a copy of Slippery When Wet that my husband and I purchased.

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