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Bon Jovi has ‘Faith’ in its new album

Bon Jovi hits stores tomorrow with “Keep The Faith,” the band’s fifth Mercury album and first group effort to be issued under Jon Bon Jovi’s boutique imprint, Jambco. The release may surprise some band observers, who never expected the group to make it past Album No. 4, so strong was its inner turmoil.

Since 1988’s “New Jersey,” Jon Bon Jovi issued his first solo album, “Blaze of Glory: Songs Written and Inspired by the Film Young Guns II,” and wrote and produced for other artists; guitarist Richie Sambora began his own solo career, while keyboardist David Bryan did soundtrack work. Amid reports of conflict, it appeared band members were ready to turn the page on the group.

Yet, in the end, the bonds forged when Bon Jovi was first put together from veterans of the New Jersey club circuit proved stronger than any personal conflicts.

“The band is energized and wants to go out there and do it again,” says Jon Bon Jovi, who admits that things looked hairy for a time. In January, the group starts what will be an 18-month roadshow, which Jon Bon Jovi says “is truly what we’ve come to love about it.”

“Keep The Faith” marks something of a turning point for the band, which has sold some 30 million records worldwide, including the multiplatinum “Slippery When Wet” and “New Jersey.”

The pop metal audience weaned on those albums is growing older, and, judging by recent sales from similar bands in the genre, more fickle. Will they follow Bon Jovi through its own mid-life crisis, reflected in the lyrics to such songs as the title track, “Bed of Roses,” and “I Want You,” all of which deal with coming to grips with life and love?

Or will the band suffer from the “Springsteen syndrome,” as fans are wrenched into camps dividing the old works and new ground?

“That’s not something I can consciously worry about,” says Bon Jovi. “If I make a record that I can sing for the next year and a half, that’s the sole thing that matters to me.”

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