While most of the nation’s rock critics were lining up to polish whatever remains of the late Kurt Cobain’s rotting knob with their hosanna-draped reviews of the Nirvana box set, this four-CD/one-DVD collection from one of the groups Nirvana and its grunge ilk set out to destroy quietly slipped into the Best Buys, Targets and Wal-Marts of America. Given how most of the Nirvana material had already been extensively bootlegged, 100,000,000 Fans is arguably the more interesting set.
Based on an unscientific sample of Bon Jovi devotees (conducted during my 10 years of being a buyer for a record store), fans of the New Jersey rockers are clearly as nuts as Nirvana fans when it comes to tracking down rarities, obscure B-sides, etc. Harried record shop clerks can now rest easy. Not even counting all the archival footage contained on the DVD, a whopping 41 tracks (out of 50 total) here are unreleased, the remaining nine having previously surfaced on hard-to-find imports, singles and sound tracks. Admittedly a keyboard-laden ballad featuring Tico Torres on vocals (“Only In My Dreams” — Tom Waits’ job is safe) is only for completists. But that’s the whole point here. Folks wanting “Living On A Prayer” can go grab a greatest hits collection. Although they’d be missing out on, say, “Edge of a Broken Heart” (a patented BJ glossy anthem from the film Disorderlies) and “Sympathy” (an unreleased, tough-as-chewed-nails blast of Stones-styled bravado that coulda-shoulda been a hit single).
One slight complaint is that the elaborately designed 64-page booklet, while containing song-by-song commentary from Jon, doesn’t provide track annotations beyond listings as “unreleased,” “demo,” etc.; true collectors want actual recording dates and source notes. That aside, 100,000,000 Fans will still leave hardcore Bon Jovi devotees in a state of — you knew this was coming — nirvana.
Fred Mills writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.