With the release of "Burning Bridges" (Mercury), Bon Jovi finds itself in a series of odd situations.

After all, this is the first Bon Jovi album without guitarist Richie Sambora, though he does share a writing credit on the first single, "Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning." To lower expectations of what a Sambora-free Bon Jovi album might sound like, singer Jon Bon Jovi is making it clear that this is a "fan album," an album of songs that the band finished for fans to release in time for its international tour.

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Bon Jovi is currently writing its new album, due early next year, which will be the first "real" album without Sambora. Well, OK, but it must worry someone that the Sambora co-written track "Saturday Night" is the strongest single and most like the band's heyday.

"We Don't Run," which Jon Bon Jovi wrote with John Shanks as a new song and a sign of the band's new direction, is awkwardly aggressive and uncharacteristically angry.

That's not to say Bon Jovi is in trouble -- the lush ballad "A Teardrop to the Sea" is especially strong. But "Burning Bridges" does sound a bit, well, burned-out.

THE GRADE B-