CRUDE DUDE RECORD REVIEW #4.
||| If you’re new around here, the following is part of an on-going series that you should first read about in an official Crude Dude “manifesto” at this location |||
CRUDE DUDE RECORD REVIEW #4
UGLY KID JOE – AMERICA’S LEAST WANTED
Review by: Uncle TNUC
Choosing an album by a band who call themselves Ugly Kid Joe for a brand new Crude Dude Record Review was a decision that had far more meaning than just a clever name that fit so goddamn perfectly for this feature. Released in September 1992, UKJ’s debut album America’s Least Wanted is probably the quintessential “crude dude” era record because it not only breaks down the barrier between eighties hard rock and grunge, it’s also the only album I truly believe was DANGEROUSLY close to changing the entire heavy metal/hard rock scene of the early nineties, for the good.
It’s not such a bold statement when you comb over the facts.
Believe me, nothing burns my beak more than remembering back when record label execs and radio stations completely abandoned bands like Motley Crue and Ratt during this time. However the harsh reality was that a new decade had begun and an influx of new bands taking over was inevitable. Not to mention much needed to some degree, thanks to sub-par bands way overstaying their welcome (Warrant, Poison). This is why they call it the record business.
Scummy record executive Jimmie Wing (Palantine Records) and some other butt-puppet at KPPX Rebel Radio in LA.
Even so, this wasn’t the big issue. The problem for many of us was the Seattle infestation being the focus of the big wigs up at the top (see above photo). The departure from party metal, guitar solos, power licks, denim warriors, leather gods and music that didn’t need to take itself so seriously was too abrupt and hard to ingest. A fresh new genre with at least some of those elements would’ve been a much healthier transition. Or at least a little wiggle room for some of those existing bands to still…exist.
Instead the complete opposite happened as the whining anti-crude dude took over the mainstream. The guy who hated guitar solos, wrote all the lyrics to his album at Starbucks and stared at his Doc Martens on stage. That’s not to say that guy couldn’t write a good song or play an instrument well enough, but even he should understand that a powerful, thrashing beast of a frontman needs to be present in mainstream rock n’ roll.
Pause. Reverse. Forget everything you know for a moment and give Ugly Kid Joe’s Americas Least Wanted a proper spin.
The band delivers a sound that’s almost like if Skid Row, Alice In Chains and the trigger-happy surfer nazis from Point Break all lived in a ratty apartment complex together and jammed on their instruments all day. One part reminiscent of our beloved metal bands who were drifting away from pop culture – another part sounding like sunwashed surf punk from the bowels of the Malibu boardwalk.
From start to finish this album captures a vibe that I really, really, really hoped the hard rock world would’ve progressed more towards during this time. An understandable break from spandex and glossy production was a good thing. In its place: nasty, funked out riffs and a stomping-down-Venice Beach attitude. The unapologetic Axl Rose-style obnoxiousness comes through both in the lyrics and vocal approach, but it’s less abrasive and somewhat more soulful. A choice recipe for a new generation. Even lead singer Whitfield Crane had all the makings of what should’ve made him one of the new Gods of twisted steel and sex appeal of ’92 and beyond…
America’s Least Wanted still killed on MTV and radio. The album spewed three hit singles and ended up going double platinum by 1995. Hit single ‘Everything About You’ features a spoken intro by SNL’s character Pat (It’s Pat) and the song also showed up on the Wayne’s World soundtrack. The Metal God himself Rob Halford (Judas Priest) even lends some shrieking vocals to ‘Goddamn Devil’ as well.
Even a strong album that had more than enough unique qualities to stand on it’s own couldn’t compete with the Seattle epidemic in the end. The media and the record industry were pushing the grunge scene so hard that Ugly Kid Joe didn’t have a chance at real longevity.
Motorhead with Ice-T and Whitfield Crane “Born to Raise Hell” from Airheads: The Original Soundtrack!
It’s too bad because having two or three different rock genres at the time could’ve done wonders for the heavy metal bands who were pumping out platinum albums just a couple years prior and now were barely hanging on for survival. Some of those bands were releasing some of the best material between ’89 and ’93, yet radio and MTV had already made their clear choice.
TNUC’s TOP ADVICE: Get this record, steal your cousin’s new Jeep Wrangler, rip the doors off (toss em’ in the ocean) and cruise through the worst neighborhoods in LA with it on full blast while chomping on a giant juicy burger.
CRUDE DUDE RICHTER SCALE = 5/5 PERSONAL PAN PIZZAS
Buy Americas Least Wanted here.