UGLY KID JOE — As Ugly As They Wanna Be (review)

UGLY KID JOE — As Ugly As They Wanna Be album cover EP · 1991 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
2/5 ·
Vim Fuego
What a difference a year can make. If this had been released in 1990 instead of 1991, the band would have had full poodle perms, spandex and would have worshipped at the altar of the ‘Crüe. Instead, in a post-Nirvana world, the glitter was replaced by grunge, a deliberate dirtying down of their image. Plaid and greasy hair were the order of the day. It didn’t affect the music one little bit though. This is dumb suburban rock, through and through. It’s got all the fuckwitted clichés of the time, with funky bits, slapped bass, a white boy trying to rap and ending up sounding like a turd.

This is essentially an expanded single, built around the slacker anthem “Everything About You”, and unfortunately, the three songs before it are so mediocre they are annoying. It is difficult not to want the songs to be finished so you can get to the prize. “Madman” deliberately courted controversy by referring to a gunman loose in Disneyland. Disney’s reputation for running down anyone misappropriating their name and/or reputation was well known at the time (just ask D.A.D. or Bomb Everything), and playing on the theory any publicity is good publicity... It didn’t work, because Disney didn’t notice. “Whiplash Liquor” is about the dangers of drinking. Actually, an alcoholic haze might make the song sound better.

“Everything About You” is a dumb song aimed at dumb teens (and older listeners who don’t know any better), in a self-centred world where hating things and people is cool. The tune is quite memorable though, and Whitfield Crane’s dumb assed lyrics are fun and easy to sing along with. It made a welcome change to the grunge misery which was starting to gain momentum at the time, even if it sounded like a song Warrant had rejected for being too cheesy.

The cover of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” is surprisingly respectful, not utterly slaughtered as you might expect. Whitfield Crane seems to sing within himself, except for when he’s copying Ozzy. Then, he lets rip, showing off a powerful and tuneful voice. And then, just to fuck everything up, another piece of funky diarrhoea called “Funky Fresh Country Club” got tacked on the end, as if Ugly Kid Joe were hoping to hitch a ride off Black Sabbath’s coat tails. The hidden track is shit too.

Unfortunately, Ugly Kid Joe went on to record some albums after this, and stretched whatever tiny piece of luck they’d had with “Everything About You”. This band might have been fondly remembered if they’d called it a day after this. They didn’t, and they aren’t.
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