Where Have You Gone, UGLY KID JOE? Come Back!


Ugly Kid Joe "America's Least Wanted" small album picBack in October of 1991, Ugly Kid Joe released their debut EP – As Ugly As They Wanna Be. 1991 was a year smack in the middle of the Grunge Music invasion… Ugly Kid Joe didn’t seem to care in the least. The mix of Hard Rock, Funk Metal and Heavy Metal had me more than interested in Ugly Kid Joe, I bought As Ugly As They Wanna Be and it served me right – back in 1991. Parodies aside, I could care less about what the titles of Ugly Kid Joe’s albums were making fun of… it was the funky heavy grooves of their songs that mattered most to me. Everything About You was a song that sounded unlike anything I was into back then, (Thrash, Death, Speed and mainstream Heavy Metal was what I was used to). When I first heard Everything About You, the first bands that came to mind that I was familiar with, in the Funk Metal genre, was Living Colour and Anthrax when they did I‘m The Man. White Zombie for certain had some Funk happening in their Metal back then too, yet this Ugly Kid Joe was not the dark side of heavy Funk either. This band was not as flamboyant as Faith No More, there seemed to be more of a street level accessibility to Ugly Kid Joe back in 1991-92.

Ugly Kid Joe made the funk in their heavy come out and smack me offside the head. Metal Music be my saving grace, I became hooked by Ugly Kid Joe, both by their music and persona. 1991 and 1992 were turning points with Metal Music, so many great Metal Bands were still around and largely ignored by the mainstream media… Ugly Kid Joe busted onto the scene and was very hard to ignore, in my Metal opinion.

Ugly Kid Joe - group photo promoObviously the freshness of Ugly Kid Joe caught on with MTV and FM radio, it had to. Ugly As They Wanna Be and America’s Least Wanted (from 1992), both sold over 2 million copies each, this Ugly Kid Joe sound really caught on, an undisputed Metal fact indeed. Ugly Kid Joe was not just about putting the funk into Heavy Metal, no sir. Their cover version of the legendary Black Sabbath’s classic Sweet Leaf exemplified their fondness for the heavier side, all the while paying tribute to their Heavy Metal influences. Ugly Kid Joe was not the refined and glamorous Hair Metal Band nor were they an extremely pissed off Extreme Metal Band. This was a band that was not even in the middle for they were so unique.

What Ugly Kid Joe brought to the masses was a mixture of Heavy Metal genres, almost as if they grabbed ahold of the very best of what these genres possessed and intertwined them all into their very own sound. To the best of my Metal memory, Ugly Kid Joe was not a copy cat band and no other Heavy Metal Band followed after, that sounded like Ugly Kid Joe either. (Maybe there was, I just never heard of them and they never lasted very long).

In 1992, I bought America’s Least Wanted and could not have been happier about it. Listening to Ugly Kid Joe cover the late Harry Chapin classic Cat’s In The Cradle only solidified the diverse musical nature of this band. I was astonished as a Metalhead back in 1992… here is Ugly Kid Joe, covering songs from Black Sabbath to Harry Chapin. Cool. I had bought a Harry Chapin greatest hits album in the late ’80’s, (keeping it a secret amongst my Metalhead buddies), yet Ugly Kid Joe made it known to the Metal world they dug Harry Chapin – I realized then that music is one big connected family.

I really look back on the first two Ugly Kid Joe albums with the utmost Metal fondness, this band was different, a Heavy Metal band that was fun without ever displaying any artificial pose to their music or appearance. Menace To Sobriety was released in 1995, followed by Motel California… I gave both albums their justified listens and due, yet I still uphold the first two Ugly Kid Joe albums as their finest moments.

The Metal bottom line is this, with all of the revivals going on in the Heavy Metal genres, especially with reunions and reunion tours, it would be cool to once again see and hear Ugly Kid Joe. It is not my intent to say that Ugly Kid Joe was the best thing since light beer, rather they were a cool band to choose from the Heavy Metal buffet… and still are. So many bands from the 1980’s and 1990’s are huge again, making albums and touring… Ugly Kid Joe would most likely be quite the hit with this new generation of kids that are just getting into Hard Rock and/or Heavy Metal. The Ugly Kid Joe look and sound is all around, as I meander around in public, (especially the Malls) in 2009. This now vintage band would fit right in today…  what once was old is new again – yet this is only my Metal opinion… and I am sticking to it.

Ugly Kid Joe:

WHITFIELD CRANE — vocals 

KLAUS EICHSTADT — guitar

DAVE FORTMAN — guitar 

CORDELL CROCKETT — bass 

SHANNON LARKIN — drums 

Ugly Kid Joe "As Ugly As They Wanna Be" large EP pic

One Response to “Where Have You Gone, UGLY KID JOE? Come Back!”

  1. […] 22nd, 2009, I wrote (a rather cool and lengthy) post about my wanting Ugly Kid Joe to come back: (Where Have You Gone, UGLY KID JOE? Come Back!). Well, Ugly Kid Joe did just that with their (2012) Stairway To Hell EP and it’s been […]

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