Bon Jovi lets Phil X blow the dust off the Talk Box on new single Living Proof

 Phil X and Jon Bon Jovi.
Phil X and Jon Bon Jovi.

Bon Jovi has shared another single from their forthcoming album, Forever, and the track finds lead guitarist Phil X metaphorically lifting the cake dish off the Bat-phone to press the Talk Box back into action and give listeners of a certain age a Proustian rush – and maybe another karaoke moment further down the line.

Titled Living Proof, this song begs the question; what is it about the New Jersey rock behemoth and songs with “Living” in the title that make them reach for the plastic tube to make the electric guitar talk?

Not that Living Proof is a retread of Livin’ On A Prayer. For better or worse we are living in a different world now, and this is a very different Bon Jovi lineup these days. But there is no question that there’s a fundamental connection between the Bon Jovi sound and the Talk Box, and the fact that they were the ones to take the lead from the likes of Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh and Aerosmith, and take a largely niche guitar effect and make it the centrepiece of a rock mega-hit.

Times might have changed but again Jon Bon Jovi is aiming for a similar vibe, that Forever will make his 2024 audience feel just like his 1986 audience felt when dropping the needle down on Slippery When Wet.

“This record is a return to joy,” he says. “From the writing, through the recording process, this is turn up the volume, feel good Bon Jovi.”

Living Proof is more elegiac than Livin’ On A Prayer, more resilience in the face of life’s relentless churn than love and defiance in the face of an economic downturn. You can’t hide the wisdom that comes with age, nor you can’t fake the big fun of fronting a platinum-selling rock band in your 20s.

Bon Jovi’s job in the here and now is write tracks that fit within the canon and to work through all the challenges life has thrown at them along the way and find solace in life-affirming rock music.

Those challenges have been considerable. Forever is the band’s first album in four years, and comes after Jon Bon Jovi’s well publicised vocal issues, which have required surgery, and had for a while threw into question whether the band would tour again. The frontman is sounding a lot more optimistic on the issue now.

Perhaps in not so distant future, some of the world’s largest stadiums will be hearing from promoters looking to book a Bon Jovi show. Fingers crossed.

If so, you can also bet Living Proof will be on the set. Livin’ On A Prayer will be on the set. And it is guaranteed that Phil X will be having fun with that talk box. As he explained to us back in 2018, when giving us his top five tips for guitarists, having fun is kind of the whole point of playing rock music for a stadium full of people.

Bon Jovi in 2024: [L-R] David Bryan, Everett Bradley, Hugh McDonald, John Shanks, Phil X, Jon Bon Jovi, Tico Torres
Bon Jovi in 2024: [L-R] David Bryan, Everett Bradley, Hugh McDonald, John Shanks, Phil X, Jon Bon Jovi, Tico Torres

“Having fun is such an important part of it,” he says. “I feel like when I walk onstage with my band, or I get up at a jam, or I get up onstage with Bon Jovi in front of 60,000 people, if you’re not having fun then why are you even doing it?

“It’s one of those things where I really feel like I’m enjoying myself, and I think the audience feels that,” he said. “I’m having fun. When you have fun, the audience has fun. I have great memories of just making eye contact with so many people in the audience and then having a great time, and then feeling, ‘Okay, I’m a part of that. That’s great!’”

Forever is available for preorder and will be released on 7 June through Island Records.