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Album Review Ugly Kid Joe, Rad Wings of Destiny

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Review by Maria Glover for MPM

Everyone remembers that one song from California rockers Ugly Kid Joe but are you aware that they are still touring and that this is their fifth studio album? Their main commercial success was in the 90s but the band reformed in 2011 after a hiatus and released critically acclaimed EP Stairway To Hell in 2012.

The album opens strong with a ballsy rocker ‘That Aint Livin’ ‘ which tells the very sobering tale of you have one life so live it. With a pounding beat and snarling vocal this is a deliciously sleazy track which is difficult not to love.

‘Not Like The Other’ has a hint of glam rock and a super-catchy chorus with some fantastic guitar interplay; snap your fingers and shout ’hey’ and you’re in the gang. It’s a different vibe to the first song but it’s first rate.

‘Everything’s Changing’ wouldn’t be out of place on the Virgin River soundtrack (other Netflix shows are available), a beautiful acoustic track with a smooth, deep vocal that seduces your earholes. Listen to it, then listen again and appreciate every second. You‘re welcome. The instrumental is stunning and this song is emotionally charged and everything I want it to be.

The poignant and evocative ‘Kill The Pain’ has the trademark big chorus and leads to a good cover of The Kinks’ Lola but I’m not quite sure why… maybe they just always wanted to record the song? No judgement here.

Standout track of the album has to be ‘Dead Friends Play’ which pays respect and homage to some of the band’s many influences and most significant names in the rock scene. Sabbath, Van Halen and AC/DC all feature and the lyrics are not quite profound but reflective and accurate. It’s also a banger of a tune!

Another fantastic song on the album is the dark and slightly seedy ‘Up In The City’ with powerful lyrics over a steady rhythm section and a simple riff. It’s brooding and ominous, a grower which sounds better with each listen, and it’s my song of the week.

A quick trip to the deep south, I wouldn’t have quite believed this was so good had I not heard ‘Drinkin’ and Drivin’ ‘ for myself. There’s a nice twang to the vocal and strong backing vocals and it’s an authentic stab of country rock that really worms its way into your mind and takes root.

For the die-hard UKJ fans, ‘Failure’ is the most recognisable on the album from their early career. If you loved “that song” (Everything About You) you’ll probably get a kick out of this.

‘Long Road’ closes the album with hope and charisma, a song which truly puts me in a great mood and remembering the album with fondness. This is a song which puts a big smile on your face and makes you look all suspicious…

Back with the producer of their debut album 30 (yes, thirty) years ago, the band sound fresh and vibrant on this album, and I wasn’t quite expecting that. They have a big, full-bellied sound which is hard to ignore and fastens itself onto your cerebral cortex. A great big 4/5

Standouts: That Aint Livin’, Up In The City, Dead Friends Play

Tracklisting for Ugly Kid Joe’s Rad Wings of Destiny 
1. That Ain’t Livin’
2. Not Like The Other
3. Everything’s Changing
4. Kill The Pain
5. Lola
6. Dead Friends Play
7. Up in the City
8. Drinkin’ And Drivin’
9. Failur
10. Long Road


SONNY MAYO: guitar

For more info check out their website http://www.uglykidjoe.net/

America’s Least Wanted (1992)
Menace to Sobriety (1995)
Motel California (1996)
Stairway to Hell EP (2012)
Uglier Than They Used ta Be (2015)
Rad Wings of Destiny (2022)


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