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Released during a period when Bon Jovi the band had all kind of drifted off and gone their seperate ways for a while, Destination Anywhere is essentially Jon Bon Jovi's second solo album and has a very different, often more acoustic feel to it than material normally associated with the band. That said, it is one of if not the favourite album of mine to be recorded by Jon and features many of his greatest tunes.
The precedent is set high with opening track, Queen Of New Orleans (the first single to be released from this CD) which really gets the whole thing going with its catchy lyrics and strong, rocky beat. This is typical Bon Jovi and something that will appeal to all of the band's fans. Certainly it is an unforgettable number that quickly ingratiates you in its performance and promises plenty of potential for what is still to come. This is followed by my all-time favourite Jon Bon Jovi track, Janie, Don't You Take Your Love To Town which, again, is highly compelling listening. This is by far the best song on the album though it is difficult to pick, from any of the thirteen tracks presented here, one that fails to impress. Janie however always holds a special place in my heart and is arguably Jon at his greatest moment.
Midnight In Chelsea was another big hit for the Jovi and equally is just as catchy as the first two tracks. This has a real feel-good factor, strong lyrics and an addictive flow that captures you and pulls you in close.It is a slightly slower number but no less impressive for any of that and just one of several ballards to appear on the album. Ugly, which follows, has a much faster beat and is another strong track that always amuses me for some reason. Ugly, I think, would be my next choice of favourite songs on the album and has a chorus that you will be singing along to for days after the first time you hear it!
Staring At Your Window With A Suitcase In My Hand is another soulful ballard and again, much slower a pace than what fans might normally be used to. Still it shows off Jon Bon Jovi's vast array of creative talent to good effect and is easily complimented by the track that follows, Every Word Was A Piece Of My Heart.
It's Just Me is the kind of slow, romantic number that Jon has become almost synomynous with and was the track that friends of mine chose for their first dance at their wedding. It has a gentlier feel to it than material normally recorded by the band when they are together but is another fine example of what makes Jon Bon Jovi such an emotional performer. Every line feels like it is being sung just for you alone and this is another of my favourite all-time Jon Bon Jovi tracks! Title track, Destination Anywhere, comes next just after the mid-way point of the album and brings the pace back up a little. Another single that was released to much positive critical acclaim, it again manages to take you along on its cool sounding musical journey.
Learning How To Fall and Naked come next and are again faster-paced numbers and these are followed in turn by Little City, August 7, 4:15 and Cold Hard Heart. These last tracks, I feel, are among the weakest on the album despite August having much personal relevance to events surrounding Jon Bon Jovi's personal life and that of one of his friends. I say they are amongst the weakest on this album but still the quality of these songs is far above anything any other artist continually produces. It is just that they are not so much to my taste and quite downbeat for the closure of an album. They are all still exceptional tracks, just not my fgavourites that I would choose to listen to.
For me, the strongest moments of this solo Bon Jovi release all come very early on though this is an excellent album from start right through to finish and there is little on here I would change if I could. Certainly it remains one of my favourite albums of all the Bon Jovi back catalogue and despite having a different feel that flows through it, you would be forgiven for not knowing that this was a solo effort and not just a different approach from a band that has proved time and again that they have long-lasting longevity!
If I could sum the album up, I would say it is less rocky and more mellow than material released by the full band and it is nice to hear something a little different from Jon that stands out as essentially a very strong release! The version of this I have includes a bonus disc that contains live versions of many of the songs and if you can track this down, it is well worth it but even the standard release is an essential addition to any Bon Jovi fan's collection.
Overall, this is an excellent album from an excellent performer and well worth several listens!
"Destination Anywhere" is Jon Bon Jovi's second solo album. I always find it a strange thing when a member of a band, especially the singer and one of the main writers, decides to do a solo album, while the band are still formed. Fair enough, the band were having a break and most of the members were involved in other projects but generally not musical projects.
What this did do was allow Jon Bon Jovi to experiment beyond what would normally be allowed on a "Bon Jovi" album. With the commercial pressures from the studio it is a lot harder to release a different sound from one of their main acts. However, do it as a solo project and you don't affect the brand as much, if at all.
So I was a little concerned when I bought this. My thinking was any exceptional material would probably be held back for the band's next album and that this cd could easily be used as a testing ground for a new approach which I may or may not like, however, I was pleasantly surprised.
The sound is definitely edgier for the most part and generally has Jon singing in a lower voice than I was used to. There are no standout singles on the whole cd as there are no real anthems on it. Its more a collection of mid-paced songs and ballads, which are of a fairly good quality throughout.
The album doesn't get off to a great start to be honest, "Queen of New Orleans" has a distorted vocal, heavy use of guitars and initially sounds almost abrasive. It does improve on subsequent listens and is quite different from everything else on the album. I can see why it was chosen as an opener as it is one of the faster paced tracks but it suggests that the album is going in a direction it doesn't often follow. The track also uses numerous "Oooh, oohs" and "Sha La La La" which sadly are too common on the cd.
Sadly, this is the standard of the opening quarter of the album. "Janey Don't Take Your Love to Town" is probably the best of the four tracks. It has a more varied sound and allows for a greater range of vocals. "Midnight in Chelsea" was the opening single and it's a fairly uninspired, albeit inoffensive track. The kind of thing I could see being recorded in a short period of time, probably at the end of a recording session and if any song ever contained more "Sha La Las" I will be astonished. Closing the opening quarter of the album is the aptly named "Ugly". It's the weakest on the album on almost every level. The lyrics are poor, the song doesn't go anywhere, its repetitive, a real disappointment.
Thankfully the second quarter is a massive improvement, "Staring at Your Window with a Suitcase in My Hand" is magnificent, depending on my mood its usually the track I enjoy most. I can even put up with the ubiquitous "Sha La Las" which close the track. The quality is maintained with "Every Word was a Piece of my Heart". A similar sound and tempo, it is slightly rockier and has a more defined title line in the chorus. One of the more singalong tracks.
"It's Just Me" is the next track and it rivals any ballad Bon Jovi have every done. It doesn't follow the usual rock ballad trend of a slow start building up to a massive chorus. It's understated throughout, moody and raw, with almost a blues sound in places. A truly great track which can really get you thinking if it catches you in the right mood.
The title track "Destination Anywhere" starts the third quarter. I would say it was chosen as the title track due to the name rather than the quality. It's a decent enough song but nothing exceptional. This sets the trend for this section of the album, both "Learning How to Fall" and "Naked" are standard, fairly formulaic tracks which fit in well on this album.
What I consider to be the final quarter starts with "Little City". It's slower song with a lot of emotion but it doesn't reach the heights set by some of the proceeding tracks. Again, not a bad song and deserves its place on the album (the use of "Sha La Las" to fill a gap causing annoyance again though!
"August 7 4:15" is a song dedicated to Katherine Korzilius (the daughter of Bon Jovi's then tour manager) who was a 6 year old girl who was murdered. It is an emotional song and is unusual in that it is not a ballad but more of a rock song. There is a lot of anger in the track and it is hard to listen to once you catch and understand the lyrics. A particularly moving verse is near the end of the track
"I know tonight that there's an angel
Up on Heaven's highest hill
And no one there can hurt you baby
No one ever will
Somewhere someone's conscience
Is like a burning bed
The flames are all around you
How you gonna sleep again"
"Cold Hard Heart" is a slow closer, it is an appropriate finisher after the emotion set in the previous track. The perfect choice to close the album.
This is a definitely a worthy purchase if you like Jon's voice. Do not let single tracks put you off it. Even some of the tracks I consider to be real highlights will not appear so if only listened to once or twice.
It is definitely a mood album. In the right mood, usually reflective it is a perfect soundtrack. However, its not one for any occasion.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Queen Of New Orleans
2 Janie, Don't Take Your Love To Town
3 Midnight In Chelsea
5 Staring At Your Window With A Suitcase
6 Every Word Was A Piece Of My Heart
7 It's Just Me
8 Destination Anywhere
9 Learning How To Fall
11 Little City
12 August 7, 4.15
13 Cold Hard Heart