In 1985 the guys in BON JOVI were just a bunch of naive kids, releasing their second album 7800° Fahrenheit. And that’s fine, because it is actually a fucking great record. I know that people like to slag this one, and even the band pretty much disowns it, so hey…what do we have to lose here, right? In the summer of 1988 I was in Ireland (against my will). I was 15 and thought my world revolved around my then-girlfriend Jessica, so being away from home really sucked. But on that two week trip I really got to know and bond with several albums, like TESTAMENT’S The New Order, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap from AC/DC, Long Cold Winter from CINDERELLA, and BON JOVI’S 7800° Fahrenheit. Oh, did I not mention? Welcome to the latest installment of Classic Albums.
Truth be told Jessica was a YUUUUUGE BON JOVI fan, something I loved about her and was also jealous of. Come on, I could never be the frontman and singer Jon Bon Jovi was and as a singer, that crushed me. Plus their Slippery When Wet album had conquered all of the charts worldwide, and they were seconds away from releasing New Jersey. Either way, it was a love/hate relationship with that band for me during our time together. But, you know what? That Ireland trip really cemented my love for this band. At night, in the guest bedroom of my Uncle George and Aunt Nora’s house (R.I.P. to both of you) I listened to this record every single night for 14 goddamn nights.
Those of you who have read this shitshow of a website for the past five years know that I always wear my heart on my sleeve for all to see. And this album, from the first harmonies of “In And Out of Love” had me hook, line, and sinker!! “Price of Love”, “Only Lonely”, and “King of the Mountain” were proof positive that this band was writing songs that were already head and shoulders above their peers. And then came “Silent Night”, the first real BON JOVI ballad as far as I’m concerned. This one hit me right in my chest. It’s a very dramatic break-up song, and it was a forebear to my relationship with Jessica. She broke up with me not long after I got home. I was 15. It was 1988. I was devastated. And I cried my eyes out. But hey, what are you gonna do, right? This one also contains one of Richie Sambora’s best guitar solos, bar none.
While in Ireland my Walkman certainly got a workout, because Side Two opens with “Tokyo Road”, one of my favorites and a song I was lucky to catch live at Nassau Coliseum in February of 1989. This tune is so anthemic, and it’s a shame the band only plays it sparingly live these days. Man, a happy ending never sounded so good! “Hardest Part Is the Night” is one of those songs you would play while you stare out the window as it’s raining, smoke curling off your cigarette. Meanwhile “Always Run to You” has this killer rock appeal that 15-year old me, and now 45 year old me always loved, and still loves.
“(I Don’t Wanna Fall) To the Fire” is soooo stereotypically 80’s it’s not even funny, but you know what? It’s still got a cool hook, and I don’t skip it when spinning this one. Closer “Secret Dreams” has some ferocious chords from Sambora, right? It’s also catchy as fuck, so it ends the album in fine fashion. I always loved it when this tune came around. Plus that meant my world famous Walkman was ready to flip the tape over again. P.S. Dirty Deeds was the album on the B-Side of this particular Maxell XL-II 90. Remember those??
In the summer of ‘88 (pre-New Jersey) BON JOVI was everywhere, and I was listening to those first three records in steady rotation. But there will always be something about 7800° Fahrenheit that holds a special place in my heart. I remember sneaking in through Jessica’s window for some late Friday night make-out sessions and having the time of my life. She was my first high school girlfriend, and my first love. I can’t listen to these songs and not think of our brief time together, even though we were kids. I was 15 years old and had not a care in the world except for rock and roll and girls. So for these reasons, and several others, this will forever be in Classic Albums. ~dc