Review: Ugly Kid Joe – 'Uglier Than They Used Ta Be"

No matter what Californians Ugly Kid Joe do,they will forever be remembered for “…Everything About You”, the sarcasm tinged single that was a massive, massive hit way back in 1992, selling a gazillion copies and squatting on the charts for close to 6 months. So they could be excused for trading on former glories by writing “…Everything About You – Part 2”, but to their credit they have produced an album that is not only very relevant, decades after their biggest payday, but is also very enjoyable.

Riff laden rocker “Hell Ain’t Hard To Find” kicks the album off, and if you didn’t know who was actually playing then you would never guess it was Ugly Kid Joe. Now, that is not meant as a slight in any way, but everyone will have an idea in their head of what Ugly Kid Joe sound like, and they just might be a little surprised by how fresh the band sounds.”Let The Record Play” and “Bad Seed” follow on, and both have traces of Alice In Chains in their DNA, Whitfield Crane paying homage to Layne Staley with that same almost spoken word vocal style drawl -played out over some serious heavy riffage from Klaus Eichstadt, Dave Fortman and Sonny Mayo. Yep, three guitarists will do that for you.

“Mirror Of The Man” has a semi-acoustic change of pace, and is perhaps the finest moment on the album. Quite a laid back stoner feel to this one. “Nothing Ever Changes” is similar in style. Softer and less abrasive but  without being maudlin. Again, another highlight in an album full of surprises. Welsh rascal Phil Campbell takes a break from Motörhead duties, and lends his guitar skills to three tracks. “My Old Man” is old school Classic Rock, at its purest, with some simple, gorgeous guitar fills, that will have the head nodding to and fro, whilst “Under The Bottom” is heavier, with some Sabbath-style riffs mid song. The third collaboration with Campbell is a straight forward cover of “Ace Of Spades”, played the way God/Lemmy intended it to be played -fast,loud and obnoxious! It’s great hearing the different styles of guitar playing here, similar to how it sounded when Motörhead were a four piece. “Enemy” is the penultimate track. A gentle acoustic song that tricks you around the four minute mark where it fades out for a few seconds, before the band come crashing back in, plugged in and amped up! I can imagine that this will work to great effect on the live stage. The album closes in fine style with a cracking cover of the soul classic “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”, which features Aussie Songstress Dallas Frasca on guest vocals, and will have you ending up googling Ms Frasca like I did.

Ugly Kid Joe are older and less hairier than they were back in the nineties, when they were never off MTV, but rather than resting on a nostalgia trip, they have come up with an album that is fresh, mature and well written. An album that improves with repeated listens. Park your pre-conceived opinions at the door, and you will enjoy “Uglier Than They Used Ta Be”.

‘Uglier Than They Used Ta Be’ is released September 18th with the band beginning a UK tour on September 14th,for more details visit:

www.uglykidjoe.net

Review: Dave Stott

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