Stranger in This Town

Admittedly, one of the more twisted kicks in pop is watching the semi-talented members of popular groups decide that their gifts can’t be properly displayed in a mere band, and then proceed to make utter fools of themselves on ill-conceived solo albums. Members of Kiss and Yes did it in the ’70s, and now it’s Bon Jovi’s turn. Last year, lead singer Jon Bon Jovi played dress-up cowboy on the callow Blaze of Glory, and with Stranger in This Town guitarist Richie Sambora takes the plunge. Like Bon Jovi, Sambora sees himself as not just another dispenser of derivative, if occasionally appealing, arena rock. That would be far too simple. Instead, he pictures himself as a tormented, angst-ridden blues-guitar warrior, grunting and groaning about how he can ”dance with the devil down lonely street” and take his woman down to the ”river of love,” all to puffy, overblown arrangements and hackneyed Blues ”R” Us licks. Although a fist raiser like ”Rosie” should sound fine on the radio, most of the album resembles the blowsy pop-metal of Whitesnake on a really bad day. Nothing even comes close to matching Sambora’s finest hour: His appealingly strained cry of ”wan-ted!” in Bon Jovi’s ”Wanted Dead or Alive.” Alas, there are no plans for Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres to make a solo album exploring the historical importance of the cymbal. C-

Stranger in This Town
  • Music