I know that some BJ fans are not into this album. What I don't understand is how many of those fans who love Keep The Faith don't like These Days. The albums are very similar: You got your arena rock songs in I Believe and If That's What It Takes. It's Hard Letting You Go, This Aint a Love Song and Lie To Me are gorgeous ballads no less beautiful and melodic than I Want You and Bed Of Roses. Hearts Breaking Even and Something For The Pain are a bit heavier, up-tempoed ballads (if there is such a thing) just like In These Arms. These Days is just a more abridged version of Dry County. Keep The Faith is your real rocker/punkish song, which is just like Damned (and both their ends feature the same descending scream of "Yah Yah Yah!"). If I Was Your Mother is the real straight rock song, and so is Hey God as well as what My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms builds up to. In short, the one difference between the two albums is that KTF is a more light-hearted album with songs such as Blame It On The Love of Rock&Roll, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, and Little Bit of Soul, whereas These Days is much darker with songs such as Hey God, Something To Believe In, and, now that I think about it, basically every song on the album. However, this darkness is in no way a turn-off. In fact, it makes the album genuine and powerful and full of emotion. I've said it before and I'll say it again: These Days is my all-time favorite Bon Jovi album. Keep The Faith kicks ass, Slippery When Wet and New Jersey are laden with hits and timeless tunes, Crush is poppy and catchy, This Left Feels Right is a unique, mature, highly appreciated redesigning of their hits, Bon Jovi and 7800 Farenheit are classic in their own right, but THESE DAYS IS THE COMPLETE PACKAGE! Every song is filled with emotion. Every song has beautiful, thoughtful lyrics (unlike If I Was Your Mother, where the song rocks, but the lyrics are weak). Every song is perfectly arranged with awesome instrumentation and flawless vocals. If you're a Bon Jovi fan who dislikes this album, but likes Keep The Faith, take my word about the similarities and give it another listen. If you're a Bon Jovi fan who likes neither, you're hopeless. If you're not a Bon Jovi fan, but know their hits, listen to These Days; it's the ultimate Bon Jovi album.
People are funny. Some love this album and some hate it, and more than a few hardcore fans just don't care about this one. First off, just to Keep Going at a time when quality rock music was under its greatest threat since disco (with the likes of shallowtallent Grunge giants) deserves a gold medal.
Although there are great arguments for why this is a great album (decent diversity, a few musical moments to shine, an "evolved" sound), even I almost lost the faith right around the "Always" era.
People only look at this album as opposed to the number one hit that came before it when judging it. "Always" was a less-musical version of megahiddengem "I Want You" from '92's masterpiece "Keep the Faith." Alas, it got all the attention, and as always in this industry, you gotta follow it up with something that makes sense (or alteast you think you should). But anyone that knows the principles of cause and effect knows that every stimulus brings consequences.
Hence a ballad-heavy album and softer singles (starting with "This Ain't A Love Song"). And a band in their mid thirties. I never thought this was a bad album, but most agree there was a magic, a fire, that previous efforts oozed, that this album just sort of sat on. The band was maturing, but in a bit of a worried way, just because the music they had just made 2 years ago was so good. And don't forget, it's possible the addition of Hugh could have been atleast a mild contributing factor to the change in group dynamics too. I love their ballads amazingly, but I smelled a change in chemistry at this time.
Fortunately they THEN got to work on the long and tedious process of showing to the world they weren't JUST a ballad band (isn't time funny, NOW they're having to show the world they aren't just a "Livin On A Prayer" band). Anyone who saw them on tour in '95 saw them rip into "Rockin' In The Free World" and never look back. I found the French release of the album and was treated to the two bonus tracks "All I Want Is Everything" and "Bitter Wine" which are better than most of the album tracks. I focused on the heavy interlude in "My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms" and something happened; I curiously started listening to the album with a frequency almost as great as previous albums.
4 Years Later, in 1999, I had an epiphany. Not that everyone has to get the same thing I do, we all respond in different ways. I was on vacation and listening to the album; the first ever Bon Jovi song I flat-out DID NOT LIKE ("Something to Believe In") followed into my ears. And when Jon did the most gutwrenching scream that I ever heard (towards the end), it was really weird. I sat up and adrenaline started flowing, emotions ran wild, and a lightbulb came on. I got "it." The "it" that this album speaks to me. It might speak differently to you, but once again baffled by the fools who call Bon Jovi campy and cheesy, I understood the profound emotional bedding within the framework that is "These Days." And now, I think it is a truly remarkable effort. Needless to say, I love ALL the songs now.
If you are a patient and understanding human being and you own "Keep the Faith", "New Jersey," and "Bounce", it is in your best interest to get this album. Just don't have any preconceived expectations of what it should be.
PS - commentary about this particular release - the video is a perk, but the REAL gems - the reason I actually paid 40 dollars (!!!) for this many years ago - are the two songs at the end, not on the American Release - They are arguably the best songs on the whole album (Jon always says what a crappy A&R guy he is, he wanted "Livin on a Prayer" off of Slippery for God's sakes!!!), and sometimes I go to this album ONLY for those songs - "All I Want Is Everything" and "Bitter Wine". Neither song is held captive by the softening ways of the group at the time. They are really of a higher quality than most of what the band was writing here (which again, is not bad anyway!). Granted, "Bitter Wine" is a ballad, but it's not formulaec at all, and it's one of the best ballads I've ever heard. The extra money's worth it. GET THIS.
I Love This Album. Bon Jovi is amazing. Songwriting is amazing, the lyrics are superb as well as the arrangements. "Something to Believe In", "These Days", "This Ain't A Love Song", "Lie to Me", and my personal fav "If Thats What it Takes" - are some of the best tracks. This is one CD that's been in my car for WEEKS. I LOVE IT. I recommend this to ANY fan. This was the 2nd CD I purchased by Bon Jovi - the 1st was Crossroad. But this CD is just amazing, they sure do get better with age.