Sitting in the control room at Los Angeles’ Henson Studios earlier this fall listening to mixes for “This Left Feels Right” – a collection of Bon Jovi hits radically revamped by the band – Jon Bon Jovi admitted, “I don’t know if anyone’s gonna buy this.”
The album, which came out Nov. 4, features songs revisited in ways that are startling at first: leadoff single “Wanted Dead or Alive” becomes a Led Zeppelin-like stomp, while “It’s My Life” morphs into a wistful ballad. But the tunes quickly show themselves sturdy enough to withstand the upheaval.
“The children started to grow by themselves, so to speak,” says guitarist Richie Sambora, who co-produced the album with Bon Jovi and Patrick Leonard. “To actually be able to reinvent your songs and be happy with them, I can’t recall any band in history exactly ever doing that.”
Originally, the band planned to release an acoustic live album, and it recorded the tunes, many of them with an orchestra, last January in Japan.
But somewhere along the way, the group decided to turn the songs on their ears.
“I just thought, ‘Why not?”‘ Bon Jovi said of the decision to scrap the acoustic Japanese session and turn the project into “Left.”
“This is just the beginning of yet another chapter,” he said. “‘Keep the Faith’ was the beginning of the second chapter, is now closed. It’s obvious we’re not going to try to write those songs again. It’s time to go left and find another avenue.”
As for what the next 10 years will bring, that’s yet to be determined, but Bon Jovi said he knows what it won’t be. “I don’t know yet what it will entail, but I think I’ve been honest with myself and with anyone else that this will never be a nostalgia band knocking on the ’80s door and putting one of those bills together.”
In fact, Sambora said the group’s ability to revisit its past in such a fresh fashion is one of the keys to its longevity.
“This album is going to show people that the reason we’re still around after 20 years is because we’re not afraid to do this kind of and that these songs are really, really good and they hold up.”
To help push “This Left Feels Right,” the band has linked with Samsung, which will Webcast Bon Jovi’s Nov. 15 Atlantic City, N.J., concert live through samsungusa.com. The Web site also is conducting a sweepstakes to win a guitar autographed by the band.
Additionally, the electronics company is promoting the project with ads on more than 350 consumer and business Web sites that push the new Samsung/Napster MP3 player.
Bon Jovi is also appearing in commercials for Duracell as part of a $30 million commercial campaign for the battery maker.