Ugly Kid Joe: ‘Rad Wings of Destiny’

To be released on October 21, 2022 (Metalville Records)

Working once again with Mark Dodson who helmed their multi-platinum 1992 classic album America’s Least Wanted; Ugly Kid Joe are back again with their first release since 2015’s Uglier Than They Used To Be and with all the original members from that landmark album of 30 years ago,  which is a very respectable achievement in itself.

The foot stomping opener “That Ain’t Livin’” kicks proceedings off in superb style. A glorious rocker with nicely barbed lyrics, it is not surprising to see that the band released the track as a single. The glam-tinged “Not Like The Other” is equally radio friendly and infectious, before the acoustic “Everything’s Changing” and the plaintive and slightly harder “Kill The Pain”  streams into the unnecessary, ill-advised and pointless cover of The Kinks‘ “Lola”.

Thankfully, things get right back on track with the funky homage to deceased idols  in “Dead Friends Play” that is lyrically both poignant and witty, and leads nicely into the seedy soundtrack story of “Up In The City” that wouldn’t be out of place in any Al Pacino film. The country irony of “Drinkin’ & Drivin’” is mildly amusing before they roll the clock back a few decades with the almost trademark Ugly Kid Joe of 1992 vintage track “Failure” that certainly wouldn’t have been out of place on that debut or the subsequent Motel California. The album ends perfectly with the prospective lighter waving “Long Road” that further showcases world weary lyrics over an Eagles essence.

Dodson’s production encompasses all the eclectic elements of the band to perfection, the twin guitars of Dave Fortman and Klaus Eichstadt have never sounded better, be it acoustically or in full electric mode, and the alternate drums of Zac Norris and Shannon Larkin are solid, with special mention of Cordell Crockett’s finely understated bass also required. Then of course there’s Whitfield Crane. Now, love him or loathe him, the man can certainly sing and brings the necessary gravitas to each song in whatever style it happens to be. He can also write a fine song which makes the “Lola” inclusion even more baffling, but I guess he had his reasons.

Ugly Kid Joe could easily be forgiven for filling venues on the nostalgia circuit and earning a wedge by playing their hits to the enthusiastic singalong audiences, but Rad Wings Of Destiny proves that they still have something often exceptional to offer and is a very impressive “comeback” indeed.

Track List:
01. That Ain’t Livin’
02. Not Like The Other
03. Everything’s Changing
04. Kill The Pain
05. Lola
06. Dead Friends Play
07. Up In The City
08. Drinkin’ And Drivin’
09. Failur
10. Long Road

Band Members:
Whitfield Crane – lead vocals
Klaus Eichstadt – guitar
Dave Fortman – guitar
Crodell Crockett – bass
Zac Morris – drums

Additional Musician:
Shannon Larkin – drums

Produced by Mark Dodson

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Rockney Colin for Sleaze Roxx, August 2022

Ugly Kid Joe‘s “That Ain’t Livin’” video:

Ugly Kid Joe‘s “Kill The Pain” video: