Turn That Noise Down - Ugly Kid Joe

Cartoon of the kid as the Statue of Liberty

So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1992 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Steve is America's Least Wanted... wait...

Wait, America's Least Wanted can’t be thirty! Ugly Kid Joe are a new band I only discovered yesterday when I was sixteen [Steve, you are nearly 47 - Ed]. Gotta give this another listen, hope it holds up.

Neighbor - Heavy start, witty and darkly humorous take on living in suburbia. Lyrics like 

“I brought my life, my ugly wife, my dirty dog with fleas
My kid's a punk, and I'm a drunk, this I'm sure you'll see
Yeah you don't know, what it's like, to live in misery
Welcome to, home sweet hell, dissatisfaction guaranteed
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood”

alongside a relatively 'normal' rock tune makes for something refreshing in music.

Goddamn Devil doesn’t lift from the dark humour taking serious crime and letting perpetrators know they’re seen but handling it in another close to the bone comedic way with heavy riffs.

Come Tomorrow looks at life and the point of view that maybe it doesn’t matter what choices you make you end up back where you were before. As a song it is the first tune that shows what an incredible range vocalist Whitfield Crane has and the added blues element to the conventional heavy rock makes it quite a highlight to listen to.

Panhandlin’ Prince is another heavy riff laden gem that darks dark themes and makes them palatable via twisted humour delivered in style by Crane.

After the dark comedy and serious themes of the opening four tracks Busy Bee hits with a light lyric and acoustic style guitar that hints at a band with a softer edge and happier vibe. Great track in isolation but really unnerving after listening to the record in order as I kept waiting for a horrific punchline.

Don’t Go brings back the heavy riffs and wailing lead guitar with darker lyrics that are enjoyable and just show how out of place Busy Bee is in this track listing.

So Damn Cool from 1992 is a song ahead of its time with its dissection of a society that like a bandwagon to jump on, a person to tell them what to do. It’s a heavy rock look at the role of an influencer 30 years before we even knew what an influencer was.

Same Side brings a very early 90’s funky rock chill out tune that just reminds me of summers days. Just because this one isn’t a dark and twisted one doesn’t mean it’s not great.

Cats in the Cradle, originally by Harry Chapin, has to be one of the very best covers ever recorded. It takes the original, includes the sentiments, but makes it both a tribute to Chapin’s and yet wholly original. It shows what can achieved by a band when they care about the material they’re going to cover. Superb, moving, emotional every time.

I’ll Keep Tryin’ is a fucked up love song but a love song nonetheless. Fantastically heavy and melodic and in keeping with the twisted way of telling a story on this album.

Everything About You. Still funny, still a party tune, still makes me smile, still has me doing the rap towards the end. Somehow not cheesy after three decades.

A remix of Madman is next, see my previous look at Ugly Kid Joe for my thoughts on that one…

Mr. Recordman ends this album with an acoustic elegance I wasn’t ready for after all the heavy riffs that preceded it. A great little tune about being in the music industry.

All in all my overwhelming thoughts after a re-listen are… there’s no way this is 30 years old. Still sounds fresh. Still relevant as hell. Still darkly twisted and yet entertaining. I miss Ugly Kid Joe. I saw them live in a small club in Bristol just before they blew up huge and it’s still one of my fave ever gigs. Definitely one for newcomers to try and worth dusting off for old fans who may have forgotten how talented this band were.

Image - Amazon

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