Bon Jovi, "This House Is Not for Sale" (Island Records)
This ain't your mama's Bon Jovi.
The most famous head of hair in rock 'n' roll is short and gray these days, and its owner no longer writes songs about runaways, blood red nails, cowboys or New Jersey mating rituals.
But more than 30 years after taking the world by storm, Bon Jovi is still making hit records: title track "This House Is Not for Sale" is as good a song as Jon Bon Jovi has ever written. As he grows older, he mixes a bold defiance (of age, injustice and negativity in general) with a more mature appreciation for love, life and hope.
The new album is a kissing cousin of 2005's "Have a Nice Day," from the clanging guitar intro to the in-your-face defiance and resolve Bon Jovi shows as he claims his legacy and fiercely defends it. "Living with the Ghost" is about moving on from a turbulent past; it could also reference how Bon Jovi has refused to let the absence of founding guitarist Richie Sambora end the band or dim its output. His replacement, Phil X, drenches this disc in U2-influenced riffs that add a new element to the classic Bon Jovi sound.
"Knockout" is a fist-pumping, ground-pounding anthem to aggression, built around the bass line from Billy Idol's "White Wedding." ''Rollercoaster" is the kind of song with a chorus so catchy you'll swear you've known it for years the first time you hear it.
There's also some decent country crossover possibility here with "Scars on This Guitar," and "Reunion," which would have made a fine companion piece to "Whole Lot of Leavin'" from 2007's "Lost Highway" album.