Ugly Kid Joe ‘Uglier Than They Used Ta Be’ Album Review


Available 18 September

Nineteen Years since their last album release, Ugly Kid Joe are back with their fourth studio album ‘Uglier Than They Used Ta Be’. And cutting right to the chase, it’s a very good album indeed.

Right from the first bars of opening track ‘Hell Ain’t Hard to Find’ it’s clear that this is definitely NOT the UKJ of 25 years ago. Which is probably a good thing, because us kids who liked UKJ back in the day are now a quarter of a century older and our musical tastes have (for the most part) evolved beyond the wonderfully snotty-nosed obnoxious adolescent vibe of ‘America’s Least Wanted’.

Like the first track, ‘Let The Record Play’ and ‘Bad Seed’ are riff-driven rockers which leave you in no doubt that Whitfield Crane and the guys mean business. And to be honest, you really have to keep reminding yourself that it is Ugly Kid Joe you’re listening to. And I mean that in a good way! But there’s more to this album than outright rock. There are a couple of changes in pace with slower, acoustic tracks like the brilliant ‘Mirror of the Man’ and ‘Nothing Ever Changes’.

Phil Campbell from Motörhead features on three of the album’s tracks, and coincidentally (or not) these songs have an old skool metal feel about them. ‘My old Man’ and particularly ‘Under The Bottom’ will have heads banging. And then there’s the third track that Phil features on…

‘Ace of Spades’ has been a part of UKJ’s live set in recent times and also finds it’s way onto the album. OBVIOUSLY we all know about Lemmy’s recent health issues, so it’s pretty poignant to hear the song performed the way we all know and love – fast, loud, gritty and powerful. Phil’s guitar gives the track an extra feeling of authenticity while the suitably snarly edge to Whifield’s vocals pulls everything together in what is a wonderful version of the Motörhead classic.

Standout track of the album for me is ‘Enemy’. For most of it’s 6 minutes, ‘Enemy’ is a quiet, thoughtful acoustic song which demonstrates once again that there’s real depth to the band’s songwriting. Then, after fading out to what you expect to be the end of the song, the band explode into a thunderous guitar-driven encore. This is going to be a tremendous song to hear live.

Overall, ‘Uglier Than They Used Ta Be’ is a collection of extremely well written, grown-up rock songs, which are (obviously) new yet have a familiar feel to them. ‘Hell Ain’t Hard to Find’ has a definite Foo Fighters vibe to it, and ‘Let the Record Play’ reminds me a little of classic era GN’R. But here I guess lies the big appeal of this album. The band seem to have looked outward for influences for this record, not used their previous work as a reference point or starting place. In doing so they’ve created a superb album, which should appeal to a much wider audience than their previous material. Roll on the live shows!

‘Uglier Than They Used Ta Be’ will be available from 18 September.  In the meantime, check out the band’s video for ‘Hell Ain’t Hard to Find’