Review Summary: Lets Rock
Whitfield Crane – lead vocals
Klaus Eichstadt – guitar, backing vocals
Dave Fortman – guitar, backing vocals
Cordell Crockett – bass guitar, backing vocals
Shannon Larkin – drums, percussion
Some bands are just not meant to make it big. The talent could be there, the look could be right and the music could be brilliant, but if they form and perform in an era that simply doesn’t need or want them, that musicians endeavors will more likely that not be un-fruitful.
Ugly Kid Joe is a band that formed in the late 80s, but started to release music in the 90s. A total of three studio albums had been released by the band, the first two with Mercury Records and the final album with the band’s own label. Now it would not be fair to call Ugly Kid Joe a total failure, since after all they did release three albums, and even had a fair amount of hits, include ‘Everything About You’ and ‘Cats in the Cradle’ from their acclaimed debut album. ‘Menace to Sobriety’ is also a highly acclaimed album, and actually peaked at number 2 on the UK Rock Charts, but due to little backing by the band’s label, he album failed in the US.
Menace to Sobriety is an album that showed what could have been for the band. Crane has a dynamic voice that not many rock singers can match, and the instrumental work is diverse enough so that every song sounds unique and exciting. ‘Milkman’s Son’ and ‘Tomorrow’s World’ were released as the lead singles from the album, with the former having a good heavy riff and a memorable although corny chorus. The latter is one of the best tracks on the album, starting off with almost psychedelic guitar plays, a deep and dark vocal performance by Crane and some brilliant work by Larkin make up most of the song. ‘Tomorrow’s World’ also has a good but short solo and one of the best choruses on the whole album.
After a short intro, ‘God’ opens up the album. The song showcases how much the band has evolved from their debut album, America’s Least Wanted. Their debut was a good album, but most of the lyrics were humorous and comedic, so the band was sometimes hard to take serious. ‘God’ is a short powerful guitar driven song that focuses the role religion plays in people’s life, and how we just shape god to suit our own needs. Crane once again shines during this song.
‘Clover’ and ‘10/10’ follow ‘God’ in style, although both songs have a more grunge feel to them. ‘Clover’ is a hard rock track with aggressive lyrics and vocals, also containing a solid chorus and an acceptable solo. ‘10/10’ is a pure treat. The bass line is brilliant, the lyrics, which once again have religious overtones, are well thought out and there is also a nice breakdown in the latter part of the song. ‘Suckerpath’ has a funny spoken intro and a good drum beat, but it does start to drag towards the end.
One of the highlights of their previous album was the brilliant acoustic ballad ‘Mr.Recordman’, and on Menace to Sobriety the band continues to excel on slower numbers with ‘Cloudy Skies’ and ‘Candle Song’. Mixing acoustic and electric guitar and a soulful performance by Crane, ‘Cloudy Skies’ could have easily been a massive summer hit, but it went unfortunately undetected. ‘Candle Song’ closes off the album. A haunting acoustic song with introspective deep lyrics and a solo that is beautiful in its simplicity ‘Candle Song’ is a memorable to a forgotten gem.
Ugly Kid Joe has recently reunited and is planning to release an EP in 2012. Will the world finally notice and give the acclaim these guys deserve? Maybe, but I won’t be holding my breath.