sábado, 9 de febrero de 2013

Bad 4 Good: Teen angst at its early 90's best

The early 90s was a tough time for heavy metal. Granted, the rise of grunge music pushed away lots of crappy acts, but other worthy ones got lost in the shuffle of musical trends. Bad 4 Good could count as one of this victims. The band was formed under the guidance of guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, and consisted of four talented teenagers from 11 to 16 years old. Lead singer Danny Cooksey was known for his 2-year stint as redheaded kid Sam McKinney in Diff'rent Strokes, while guitarist Thomas McRocklin had appeared as "Lil' Stevie Vai" on Vai's video "The Audience is Listening" (see it here).

Refugee's album cover
The band released their only album, Refugee, in 1992. The lyrics aren't particularly deep. They cover all the obligatory subjects of rock songs of that era. From the rebellious nature of "Bangin' Time Again" and Phil Lynott's cover of "Nineteen", to the surprisingly sex-charged "Rockin' My Body", or the eco-friendly "We're Gonna Fight". There are also a couple of solid power ballads in "Slow and Beautiful" and "Nothing's Great About a Heartache". The latter is particularly good, at least for my 80s taste. The album even features a rap/heavy metal fusion called "Felony".

There's also an interesting song called "Terminate" with lyrics that seem inspired by the Terminator films. The song includes lyrics like "built like a hearse, seven times Mr. Universe" and "he's crying tears of metal in the 21st century" or "he'll look you in the eyes and tell you that he'll be back". Considering that Cooksey had a small role as John Connor's friend on Terminator 2, which was released the same year as the album, it's possible that the song was intended to be sold for the soundtrack, but didn't make it.

Despite the seemingly cliché and formulaic nature of the lyrics, the boys more than make up with their talents. Cooksey has a strong, grave voice that lends itself perfectly for screams and wails, but also for strong vocals, while McRocklin, who was a Vai protege, shows how much he learned from his mentor. Bassist Zack Young and drummer Brooks Wackerman aren't left behind either. Although evident in most of the songs, these talents are better showcased in the instrumental headbanger "Tyre Kickin' (Ya Makin' Me Nervous)".

Bad 4 Good disbanded shortly after the album release, and their members moved on to other ventures. Cooksey has become a prolific voice-actor, Wackerman is playing drums for Bad Religion as well as other bands, Young has played for several bands like A.I., while McRocklin quit the business allegedly "fed up" with the industry. But still, as a perennial lover of 80s heavy metal, this is an album I gravitate towards a lot. If you are a fan of 80s metal, the album is a must to listen to; and even if you're just a heavy metal/rock fan, period, you should give the album a try. Grade: A-

(All the pictures belong to Interscope, its parents and affiliates)

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