REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/15/2011
There ought to be no debate about this statement: Bad English was a supergroup. Vocalist John Waite, who was known for his work with The Babys and his stellar "Missing You" single, set out to conquer the world with Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain and guitarist Neil Schon. Drummer Deen Castronova might as well have been a hired gun. This quintet released two albums before disbanding and, of the two, this is the one that made the most commercial splash. I listened to the follow-up to this release, 1991’s Backlash and wow. They should have stopped with one release.
Consider that this release begins with the all-out rocker "Best Of What I Got" and is followed up with the equally potent, cliché-filled "Heaven Is a 4 Letter Word." When Waite implores the listener to consider "Hey you / Haven't you heard / Heaven is a 4 letter word," I just chuckle. What the hell is he talking about? Things improve remarkably with the next track "Posession" but really take off with "Forget Me Not." This was the first video I saw of this band. It was released, similar to the way White Lion released "Wait" as their first video, to show they wanted to be a rock band, and this song establishes that from the beginning through the end. Castronova puts in a remarkable performance with powerful tom fills as Waite sings, "You will be touched by love." The fact that this song is not a straight-ahead two and four on the backbeat should have earned the band more musical credits than it ever did.
And then, it arrives. If there is only one song you know by this group, it would be the power ballad "When I See You Smile." It has found its way onto every "hair band ballad" collection that is available, right next to White Lion's "When the Children Cry," Extreme's "More than Words," and Mr. Big's "To Be With You." And you know what? All of those bands (Bad English, White Lion, Extreme, and Mr. Big) were NOT and never should be considered tender ballad bands. Here's the sad thing: some lady named Diane Warren wrote it. Not Waite, not Cain, not Schon. It wasn't even their song and it is what they are known for. How pathetic is that. However, the song itself, prior to the 100th listen, is actually a decent power ballad.
The rest of the songs on this release are relatively standard late ‘80s/early ‘90s fare. Of the final eight cuts, the only one that gets me excited is the rocker "Lay Down." It's track ten and there are days when I wish the release would have ended on this strong track. Waite and Schon both submit great performances, and Castronova has a good groove as well. Instead, the band decided to continue with the filler "The Restless One,s" the inane "Rockin' Horse," and the worthless "Don't Walk Away." It is too close to Waite's single "Missing You" but with worse lyrics: "Put on your dancing shoes / And we can paint this town / Red or green or blue / If you still believe in me and you." I think this used to be my favorite song in 1989, but things have definitey changed in two decades.