You know an album is great when it sounds better every time you hear it. I picked "New Jersey" up on audio cassette for a dollar, and it was my introduction to Bon Jovi. Now I own 3 Bon Jovi albums, and I love them all.
"New Jersey" is different than the other albums I own ("Slippery When Wet", "Crush"). It feels more like a concert than an album. Whether it was intentional or not, the songs just flow nicely from one to another. The first two songs kind of get you going, though they're kind of repetitive and more of a "warm up" to the rest of the album. Then, with an authoritative "1, 2, 3, 4", the drums come in and "Born to be My Baby" opens. Then the album hits its stride. "Living in Sin" follows...it's beautifully written and sung, and shows off the band's ability to harmonize. If you have the cassette, like me, the 1st side finishes with "Blood on Blood", a high energy song about the band members' wild boyhood.
But if I could only have one side (speaking in tape terms again), it would be the second side. "Homebound Train" opens, continuing the energy that the first side ended with, and then comes "Wild is the Wind", a passionate and upbeat song about what it feels like to be seperated from the one you love. Then comes the mono, record-like recording of "Ride, Cowboy, Ride". It sounds kind of weak, but I'm still glad it's there, because it makes "Stick to Your Guns" sound that much cooler when it kicks in with it loud drums and beautiful chords. What follows is probably the best song on the album, "I'll Be There for You". I don't know how to describe its greatness, other than to say that it's the song that all of us guys wish we could sing (if we had Jon Bon Jovi's voice) to that one girl who we love, but never seems to love us in return. And just when you think the song is done, it hits its key change, and you'll just sit back and breathe a sigh. It's that cool.
The last couple of songs on the album aren't that special, but they kind of serve the purpose of "letting you down easy" so that you're actually ready to let the album stop playing. "99 in the Shade" is a fun song, but nothing special. The last song, "Love for Sale" isn't really a song, and you'll hate it at first, but after a couple of times, you'll start to find it funny, and you'll like the way it literally finishes the album off with one of the Bon Jovis requesting that they just "say the record is done".
This album may not be for everyone, but it's still undoubtedly a great album, and one of the reasons I still have a cassette player in my house. Give it a try.