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Even with good rip-offs, UKJ is out of touch with times

Cordell Crockett, Shannon Larkin, Whitfield Crane, Klaus Eichstadt, and Dave Fortman are (left to right) Ugly Kid Joe.

Ugly Kid Joe

Menace to Sobriety

Released by Mercury Records.

By Rob Wagner
Staff Reporter

Plagued by a "one-hit wonder" categorization, Ugly Kid Joe continues to produce the music that hit the right formula once. Their newest album, Menace to Sobriety, is actually pretty good.

Menace is sometimes reminiscent of Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses, and at times emulates the style of Joe Satriani. Ugly Kid Joe has a distinct sound in the style of late 80s-early 90s rock. A bit cheesy at times, the group generally has a crunching sound with consistently good, also-crunching vocals by Whit Crane.

On a few songs, Ugly Kid Joe hits the formula they found had worked for I Hate Everything About You. The first track, "Intro," sounds similar to something Joe Satriani might release. "Jesus Rode a Harley" and "V.I.P.," both songs resembling the style of Guns N' Roses, are actually very good. One can tolerate and perhaps not mind listening to them. Songs such as "God" and "Clover" follow in this style. "Oompa," however, is intolerably annoying.

They have, however, included a few slow tracks, in an attempt to sell out their original sound, apparently to get a single, analogous to "November Rain" by GNR. "Cloudy Skies" and "Candle Song" are both reeking of cheese, offering neither the crunching chords nor the crunching vocals that give Ugly Kid Joe its sound. Unfortunately for them, I doubt their "selling out" will result in any monetary gain, since they are unlikely to get a single to catch on, and even more unlikely to sell very many albums. Despite these slow songs, Ugly Kid Joe has, for the most part, retained their late 80s style and sound when most of their counterparts have either disappeared or have changed like Bon Jovi has.

Ugly Kid Joe is fighting not to be stuck in the ranks of Stryper, Cinderella, Ratt, and The Cult - all of whom never really caught on after an initial hit. Sure, Ugly Kid Joe had a second video that got most of its airtime on Beavis and Butthead, but they can still be classified as a "one-hit" band.

In any case, Menace to Sobriety is a decent album, likely doomed by the record industry to end as a flop. People will not buy an album which is out of style with today's music. Instead, they will continue to buy the latest drivel by Hootie and the Blowfish, or the next retching one by Pearl Jam.