First let me say that I'm amongst the younger generation of Bon Jovi fans. I was born in 1985, so I wasn't an avid music fan until the 'Crush' album. From there, I had to work my way backwards, and though I've listened to every album (incl. '100,000,000 BJ Fans Can't Be Wrong') beginning to end, the fans that were listening to Bon Jovi while they were on the rise in the 80's and early 90's might be able to give you a more accurate depiction of how well this Greatest Hits album represents Bon Jovi through the years. However, I'm gonna take a stab at it.
The album is divided into two discs of which feature 16 and 12 songs, respectively. All but two songs on either CD are previously released songs/singles spanning Bon Jovi's 25+ years in the music business. The first thing I looked for was album representation, and I was disappointed to find that only nine of the band's eleven studio albums were featured. I'll quickly break it down for you:
Bon Jovi: 1 song - "Runaway"
7800º Fahrenheit - None
Slippery When Wet: 3 songs - "Livin' On A Prayer", "You Give Love A Bad Name", "Wanted Dead Or Alive"
New Jersey: 5 songs - "Bad Medicine", "Born To Be My Baby", "I'll Be There For You", "Lay Your Hands On Me", "Blood On Blood"
Keep The Faith: 3 songs - "In These Arms", "Keep The Faith", "Bed Of Roses"
These Days: 2 songs - "This Ain't A Love Song", "These Days"
Crush: 1 song - "It's My Life"
Have A Nice Day: 2 songs - "Who Says You Can't Go Home (feat. Jennifer Nettles)", "Have A Nice Day"
Lost Highway: 2 songs - "Lost Highway", "(You Want To) Make A Memory"
The Circle: 2 songs - "We Weren't Born To Follow", "When We Were Beautiful"
- The other three previously released songs are "Always" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night", from the greatest hits album 'Cross Road' in 1994, and "Blaze Of Glory", first released in 1990 on Jon Bon Jovi's solo album of the same title.
You see it yourself. While the 'New Jersey' album is easily the highest regarded on this compilation, '7800º Fahrenheit' and 'Bounce' were not represented at all. While I understand neither was by any means a defining album for Bon Jovi, both needed to be recognized on here as part of the band's repertoire, especially "In & Out Of Love." Also, in my opinion, 'Bounce' could have been represented by either 'Everyday' or 'Misunderstood', preferably the latter if you ask me. While neither song was ever a major cog in the Bon Jovi machine (especially in the U.S.), both singles were present on various charts throughout the world and "Everyday" was even nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Group With Vocal.
Four other songs I thought should've made the cut:
** "Raise Your Hands" from 'Slippery When Wet' - Also one of, if not the best live song the band does, in my opinion (from the two times I saw Bon Jovi live)
** "Never Say Goodbye" from 'Slippery When Wet' - This is probably the most glaring exclusion on the album; reached #11 on the U.S. Mainstream rock charts in '87
** "Dry County" from 'Keep The Faith' - It never quite reached the level of popularity I think it deserved, probably because of its length (nearly 10 minutes), but I personally think this is the most underrated single, maybe even song, the band has ever released
** "I Love This Town" from 'Lost Highway' - It was never released as a single, but I've heard it used in various promos/TV spots over the past few years, most notably for me by Major League Baseball
The biggest problem isn't really a problem at all. I went to a Bon Jovi concert in New Jersey when he was on The Circle Tour, and he played about thirty songs (a massive set that lasted over three hours); yet when my friend and I were leaving the stadium, she was talking about some of the songs she wished the band had played. Well... the same thing goes for this album; this band has so many hits that no matter how you pick and choose your favorites, something is going to be left off and somebody is going to be disappointed.
Now, personally, I thought "Blood On Blood" was a take it or leave it song. Of course I could, and probably will, be in the minority. But either way, it's a great problem to have when you actually have too many hits for a 2-disc set. I've always thought when you're releasing an album of songs already released before, you should fill up as much of the CD as possible. There's no logical reason why an even thirty songs couldn't have been used here. When you do a 'Greatest Hits', especially (as some reviewers have noted prior to me), an >"Ultimate"< Greatest Hits, you should spare none of the essential cuts. This could very well be the album that teenagers are buying twenty years from now when they're first introduced to Bon Jovi's music. You don't want them to miss out on anything.
Now, onto the new songs.
"What Do You Got" - A mid-tempo love song, classic Bon Jovi. It didn't really catch on with me 'til recently. I like it, but it's quite not in that "repeat" zone for me. 8/10
"The More Things Change" - Sounds like something that would've fit very well onto 'The Circle' album. Kind of a retro-ed up modern rock song. Again, it didn't quite hit me as anything spectacular, but I've grown fond of it over a few listens. 8/10
"This Is Love This Is Life" - This song struck me from the first listen. Great up-tempo song, great for concerts. I will even go as far as to say it's an anthem in the making. It's very, very vintage 80's Bon Jovi. I fell in love with it by the end of the first chorus. 9.5/10
"No Apologies" - Very quirky song from a pretty polished band. I don't even know how to really describe it. It's a song that has momentum and finds its way on a creative pace and a great guitar solo from our good man, Richie. 8.5/10
Bands like Bon Jovi last so long that by the time they're finally done doing their thing, they may have two or three different Greatest Hits albums. For all we know (and I hope this is the case), Jon and Richie could write another five albums and we'll see the "Ultimate Super Hits" Bon Jovi collection in 2025.
For now, this album has some imperfections, but it's still one of the most complete GH albums I've ever come across from a band whose career spans more than a decade. There's very little to complain about, at least from my perspective. My only gripes I made a point of on here (because everyone needs to hear both the pros and the cons), but what it boils down to is you're getting 28 of the best songs this band has written over a quarter of a century. This is where listeners first getting into Bon Jovi need to start.