Back in the summer of 1995, when I was gearing up to go to university, Bon Jovi dropped These Days. I bought it the first day it came out, being the geeky fan that I am and immediately put it into my stereo. I had been hearing 'This Ain't A Love Song' on the radio for about a month, so I was pretty primed for the entire album.
This album, like all of my favourite albums, was a slow burner for me. I didn't love it the first few times I listened to it, but for some reason, I couldn't take it out of my CD player. Almost 10 years later, I realize why. It is such a great album, probably in my top 20 of all time (along with Keep The Faith). Key moments on the album for me are 'These Days', just a great all-around song, with great lyrics, melody and both an amazing Richie Sambora guitar solo and a Jon Bon Jovi harmonica solo. 'Something To Believe In' also is a stand-out (I am very glad they included a live version on One Wild Night Live), I feel that the lyrics of the song are quite moving. It also sounds different than most other Bon Jovi songs.
I think that is why I like this album so much, you can see Bon Jovi 'experimenting' a little bit, even 'This Ain't A Love Song', a solid power ballad, has a bluesy feel to it. 'Diamond Ring' is a great closer (although I have the import disc with 'All I Want Is Everything' and 'Bitter Wine' as bonus tracks), very quiet and haunting even. The accompanying tour was one of the best rock shows I have ever seen. Almost 3 hours of pure rock n' roll, opening with 'Helter Skelter' and playing most of These Days.
I think it's a shame that the band does not play much off of this album live anymore (the played 'Damned' on the Bounce tour when it came to T.O. the first time) and largely ignores it in favour of the career-revamping Crush material.
If you are a Bon Jovi fan, These Days is a must own.