BADLANDS – 1989 Heavy Metal Debut Album Still Reigns Supreme

BADLANDS "Badlands" large album picBadlands was a Heavy Metal band that I caught onto the instant they released their debut/self titled album – Badlands, (on Atlantic Records), back in 1989. I purchased this Badlands cassette at Strawberries Records & Tapes, located right around the corner from Central Connecticut State University on New Britain Avenue. I was a student at CCSU back in 1989, very much broke to the Metal wind. Therefore, my Heavy Music purchases were not abundant, I chose quality over quantity. With so little funds to buy music as a college student back then, being choosy was a necessity. Badlands with their classic and ultra talented lineup of musicians became a necessity for me. From the very first listen through of this album, (in my case cassette), to say that Badlands left an earthshaking mark on me is the understatement of the decade. The Heavy Metal onslaught of cool and psyched out vibrations, that this Badlands album gave me back in 1989, has once again reintroduced me to that same experience this past weekend.

My best buddy – a.k.a. – best Metal buddy – a.k.a. – Scott, well, he remembered just how much Badlands and their debut album resonated with me back in the day, therefore Scott landed me a CD copy of Badlands. Scott was my roommate at CCSU, my best man at my wedding and if anyone knows my Metal tastes and background… it is him. Thank you Scott, for this Metal gift of Badlands this past Saturday. Getting Badlands on CD in the mail was like experiencing Christmas Day on this cold, dank and rainy day in October. F’n unbelievable surprise.

It is an unreal great feeling to have this Badlands CD finally in my collection. I have never let go of my Badlands cassette since 1989… and I never will. To the best of my Metal research, this Badlands CD is extremely hard to find at retail. Out of print perhaps? Badlands is definitely one of my favorite Heavy Metal albums that I have ever listened to. I only wish this band was able to stay together forever, yet lead vocalist Ray Gillen was called to heaven a little early, on December 1, 1993 at the age of 34. The unreal great guitarist – Jake E. Lee and Ray Gillan on vocals may be the two main musical focal points of Badlands, yet Eric Singer on drums and Greg Chaisson on bass make for an ear bending and jaw dropping rhythm section – stuff of legend. Anyone that knows and enjoys Old School Heavy Metal can certainly identify with Badlands, this band is from that mold. Jake E. Lee proved with Badlands that there was definitely a Heavy Metal life for him away from Ozzy Osbourne.

The eleven songs on Badlands encompass the melodic driven side of Heavy Metal enormously, with the late Ray Gillen’s unique vocals surpassing many of his peers of that time, when it came to harmony and range. I include the late Ray Gillen in with Tony Martin, Jeff Scott Soto, Gary Barden, Jorn Lande and Joe Lynn Turner when it comes to lead vocals status in Old School Heavy Metal. He belongs with this select group of singers. (I definitely left out some names here, yet I think my point is made). If not for his passing away at age 34, I am convinced Ray Gillen would have been a top tier Heavy Metal and/or Hard Rock vocalist to this very day. With so many new vocalists coming out of the woodwork in all of the Metal genres since the 1990’s, too many of them sound like each other or have little regard for originality. This is why I can never tire from the late Ray Gillen’s vocal talent.

My favorite song on Badlands is Dreams In The Dark, I played it six times over, very loud the other night and it served me right. Yes, I acted very silly jumping around in my basement like a psyched out kid, while this song and the rest of Badlands cranked. As the ultra great Blackie Lawless would say… I don’t need no doctor. All I need is to delve back into the Metal world of Old School Heavy Metal, (on a very consistent basis), turn on some Badlands and let the bull crap of the world around me, wallow in it’s own decrepit stank. I don’t look back upon Badlands as a supergroup, instead I look upon them as a fabulously talented Heavy Metal band that was too short lived. Long live the legacy of Badlands – their Heavy Metal still reigns supreme for me.

Track List For Badlands:

High Wire

Dreams in the Dark

Jade’s Song

Winter’s Call

Dancing on the Edge

Streets Cry Freedom

Hard Driver

Rumblin’ Train

Devil’s Stomp


Ball & Chain – (this song is not on the vinyl record version of Badlands)

BADLANDS "Badlands" large album pic

9 Responses to “BADLANDS – 1989 Heavy Metal Debut Album Still Reigns Supreme”

  1. This is one of my favorite albums. The grooves on this record are the trippin’est.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Man, it’s all about the grooves. To me, it’s like this Badlands album came out last year. I am psyched to have reunited myself to this album and band.

  2. One of my Greatest Albums of all time. Too bad it is so hard to find!! What’s up with that?

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Out of print I am leaning towards… yet I have not solidified that to be the truth until I research thoroughly. Listening to Badlands once again – made my weekend complete.

  3. I’m going to go listen to them right now. Haven’t heard them unfortunately.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Dude… I really hope you become another fan of this once great band. It’s cool you are giving them a try.

  4. It is a shame this band did not, at least, get WHITESNAKE ’87 huge. What a FANTASTIC album. There is not a lowspot on this release. “Streets Cry Freedom”, “High Wire”, “Ball & Chain”… how does a guy from New York have such a hold on Blues vocals the way Ray did? Incredible. I have all 3 Badlands releases, and they are all strong albums. Though One has to be the strongest, and it is certainly the self-titled release. I am gonna go throw it on right now! R.I.P. Ray, you are missed.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Play it LOUD too. Due to years passing and Ray Gillen no longer with us, it seems as if Badlands has become one of Heavy Metal’s best kept secrets. It’s great that you own all 3 of their albums for they are not that easy to track down.

      I always felt, if this album was released a few years earlier, yeah… Badlands would have been more prominent. (Then again, I could be totally wrong.)… it’s just my Metal gut feeling.

  5. Yeah, I think this one is OOP because I’ve wanted it forever. So long ago in fact, that I stopped even bother looking for it because I kept coming up empty.

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