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Ugly Kid Joe – Rad Wings of Destiny

Ugly Kid Joe
Rad Wings of Destiny
by Gary Hernandez at 12 December 2022, 5:24 PM

It has been 30 years since the release of “America’s Least Wanted” by UGLY KID JOE and seven years since their latest studio release. The kid is back, and they brought Mark Dodson with them—Mark produced their aforementioned debut full-length back in 1992. So, a bit of a reunion of sorts. On October 12, 2022, UKJ released “Rad Wings of Destiny.” The brief review is UKJ has aged surprisingly well. They don’t sound awkward or desperate—as so many comeback groups do. “Rad Wings of Destiny” is simply a collection of some well written songs by a band that had their fifteen minutes but are more talented than one might assume.

A bit of history, because some of you weren’t alive in 1992: UKJ formed in 1990 in Isla Vista, California. Their name is a spoof of an 80’s Glam Rock band who stood them up on a gig. They were only going to use it once, but it stuck. They made their mark with a signature sound melding Hard Rock riffs with a Mad Magazine aesthetic and sarcastic wit—a winning combination that landed them a slot in the movie Wayne’s World. They also had (and still have) a penchant for selecting covers that unexpectedly resonate—like “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, a saccharine-soaked Folk Rock hit from 1974 that even then people had a love/hate relationship with. Apparently love/hate sells, because Harry’s version was a monster hit and UKJ’s version sold over 500,000 copies in the US alone.

Rad Wings of Destiny” comprises ten songs and plays out at 40 some odd minutes. (Other hilarious, imho, parody album titles over the years have included “Menace to Sobriety,” “Motel California,” and “Stairway to Hell”).  There’s one cover—“Lola”—a sure win, though not as unexpected as some of their previous efforts. I mean by everyone from Robbie Williams to Ace Frehley has covered “Lola,” but it’s hard to damage that classic and UKJ certainly does it justice. UKJ also doesn’t shy away from their signature humor. “Dead Friends Play” is filled with more Easter eggs than a Cadbury display in April; the country ballad “Drinkin’ and Drivin’” kills, no pun intended; and “Failure” is one of those “too close to the truth” songs that is funny and sad all at once.

And if covers and acerbic lyrics aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other songs on this album that will meet you halfway. My personal favorites are “Long Road,” a catchy tune you can’t help but to sing along with; “That Ain’t Livin’” a track reminiscent of any number of AC/DC songs, but still good in its own right; and “Not Like the Other,” an infectious, radio friendly track. “Kill the Pain” is another solid track and is arguably the best track on the album.

Final word. Welcome back UGLY KID JOE. It’s been such a long time since you were on heavy MTV rotation, spitting out relationship angst on a windy California beach. Or when you played in the background as Wayne introduced his favorite donut shop to the world. Or when you resurrected the world’s sappiest song and made it popular again. While “Rad Wings of Destiny” might border on sacrilege for many metalheads, title-wise at least, no true metal crimes were committed in the making of the album. All in all, it’s a well-produced, well-executed batch of Hard Rock that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A refreshing blast of sanity, in fact, which is UGLY KID JOE irony at it’s best.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

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. Failure
10. Long Road
Whitfield Crane – Vocals
Klaus Eichstadt – Guitar
Dave Fortman – Guitar
Cordell Crockett – Bass
Zac Morris – Drums
Shannon Larkin – Drums
Record Label: Metalville Records


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