Do you remember Californian rockers UGLY KID JOE? They achieved great success on the strength of songs like their infectious, tongue-in-cheek rocker ‘Everything About You’ and their cover of Harry Chapin’s ‘Cats in the Cradle’ in the early ’90s.
In 1992 Ugly Kid Joe released their first full length CD 'America's Least Wanted', which became a double-platinum phenomenon, saw the band tour worldwide supporting legends such as Ozzy Osbourne and Van Halen, and thus perform in arenas and stadiums worldwide.
Two more albums were to come out, 1995's 'Menace To Sobriety' and the horrible 1996's 'Motel California'. After failing to repeat the success of the debut, the group disbanded in 1997.
The band announced that they planned to reunite in 2009 and after a few years of delays, their official comeback has arrived with their first official recording in 16 years. In keeping with the theme of ironic album names, their new album is a six-song EP titled "Stairway To Hell".
The current lineup of Ugly Kid Joe is Whitfield Crane (vocals), Klaus Eichstadt and Dave Fortman (guitars), Cordell Crockett (bass) and Shannon Larkin (drums) – the same members who played on the band’s last nineties albums. Fortman has carved out a successful career as a producer, working with Evanescence, Mudvayne and Godsmack among others.
Except "Love Ain't True!", which I don't dig at all, featuring Fishbone members as guests, the rest of the EP will please Ugly Kid Joe's fans. They sound like the old band only with a slightly modern edge.
The best for me are the ones where the group goes for the melody, as on the acoustic driven "Another Beer" and the melodic power-fueled darkness of "No One Survives".
Title track "Devil's Paradise" has a big groove but is not completely convincing, "You Make Me Sick" is much better with its gritty vocals and razor riffs typically UKJ.
I always considered Ugly Kid Joe as a band of good performers, but musically, at best, they are decent with some songs better than others.
In my opinion, the only deficit in "Stairway To Hell" is the fact that the factor which made Ugly Kid Joe famous - the humor / irony - is gone.
Anyway, as said, fans will enjoy this recording, very well produced with an edgy sound.
01 - Devil's Paradise
02 - You Make Me Sick
03 - No One Survives
04 - I'm Alright
05 - Love Ain't True! (ft. Moore & Walt of Fishbone)
06 - Another Beer
Whitfield Crane (vocals)
Klaus Eichstadt (guitars)
Dave Fortman (guitars)
Cordell Crockett (bass)
Shannon Larkin (drums)
BUY IT !