Atlantic Records, 1989
REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/04/1998
I found my Badlands tape! It was one of my priceless gems in my music collection and I found where my daughter hid it!
Badlands never really gained any national exposure, which I used to think was a travesty. Not anymore. I used to listen to this tape two or three hundred times a week, or so it seems. I don't know what I was thinking then because now, this tape sucks. There is only one truly strong track and, unless you are a Jake E. Lee guitar disciple, don't bother with this.
Although, the line-up of this band reads like a who's who of heavy metal in 1998. The two distinguishable members are drummer Eric Singer, who, of course, went on to replace the deceased Eric Carr in KISS, and guitarist Jake E. Lee, who was just coming from a stint as Ozzy Osbourne's axe-man. That's his riff on Osbourne's "Shot In The Dark" and "Bark At The Moon."
Badlands played good metal for the time. The opener "High Wire" starts the shoe on the right foot with Lee's guitar wizardness becoming evident almost immediately. That's what is missing from today's music: a solid guitar riff. Collective Soul's "Gel" is the most recent example I can think of where a song is built on top of a good riff. Even Van Halen hasn't been able to do this recently.
The second track "Dreams In The Dark" was the band's attempt to break onto MTV. It failed. It is the worst track on the disc. In fact, skip through the rest of the first side of the tape. "Streets Cry Freedom" is boring and "Dancing On The Edge" is about as cliched metal as you can get without listening to Warrant's Greatest Hits.
No, you should skip to side two, or the track "Hard Driver." Singer is in his element here, thundering through his intro. Lee jumps in with another powerful riff and the band is off. This is one of my favorite songs of all time and certainly, the best on the tape.
The tape ends with a couple of bluesy stomp tracks. The next track "Rumblin' Train" is a snail's pace compared to "Hard Driver." Singer proves he can groove at a slower pace. Lyrics like: "Just a poor boy/ scratching my back on the razor's edge/ This razor's edge I call my home." It quickly becomes apparent that Lee needs needs to carry this track yet again. The poor guy's back must have been breaking from all of the weight he needed to carry in this band!
"Devil's Stomp" returns to the urgency of "Hard Driver" but is less successful. The ballad "Seasons" is more junk that should have found its place on the cutting room floor.
The last track, marked as a "bonus track" is called "Ball And Chain." Why do bands do this? If Badlands would have put "Ball And Chain" earlier in the tape, and built more songs around this type of Led Zeppelin stomp, the band might, possibly, be around today in some form or another.
Instead, the band went on to record and release Voodoo Highway. I was listening to this tape while dubbing it from one of my friends when it first came out and stopped dubbing it. What I remember of it was that it was a move towards 70s rock. I only could bear to listen to half of it. Eric Singer left the band between this tape and Voodoo Highway. Too bad the entire band didn't disintegrate.
What's really strange is that I hold their concert as one of the best concerts I saw. They were tacked onto the opening slot for a Great White/Tesla double bill. Their stage was so small that the band members were practically falling over each other. When the lights went down, Eric Singer began "Hard Driver" with this monstrous tom tom intro. On the tape, it's probably less than a minute. In concert, he must have been going wild up there for two or three minutes. Then the spotlight swung over to Jake E. Lee, who entered the song with his riff.
Too bad that energy never made it onto their recorded music.