Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Bad Examples - Bad Is Beautiful - 1991


One of the salutary side effects of rock's indie-fueled progression leftward has been a general elevation of bar-band standards. The number of balding journeymen bashing out today's chart hits for tonight's barflies probably hasn't shrunk, but today's population of knockabout groups with tried and true virtues, a thorough lack of trendy pretensions and the burning ambition to write and record their own material have appreciably more on the ball than those Johnny B. Goode-enough rockers largely displaced when underground modernists took over most urban sinkholes possessing a stage and a sink.
The Bad Examples is a good example of this upward trend. In its poppy Beatlisms, the Chicago quartet bears more than a passing resemblance to another onetime bar band, Squeeze. Singer/guitarist Ralph Covert writes solidly tuneful songs in a variety of Midwest rock veins (one of which favors the Spin Doctors); the group plays 'em all with engaging skill — if an unfortunate weakness for shmaltz. Although there's absolutely no need for another desolate number about waiting for the phone to ring ("Statue by the Phone"), and the phrase "sick and tired of being sick and tired" (used in "Ashes of My Heart") is hereby banished to the songwriters' book of untouchable clichés, most of the numbers on Bad Is Beautiful say something original in an easily familiar way. "Faces in Picasso's Notebook" is a touching post-breakup get-together; "One Perfect Moment" removes a skeptical curtain from romance; "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Promises in the Dark" both acknowledge encroaching adulthood: "Someone as old as you should never look for the truth/In promises made in the dark." -[Ira Robbins]Trouser Press

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