Bad English - Bad English album review

The last of the blockbuster 80s AOR albums

Cover art for Bad English - Bad English album

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Bad English were a supergroup when the phrase actually meant something. Their million dollar line-up featured members of The Babys (bassist Ricky Phillips and singer John Waite, the latter a solo star in his own right), Journey (guitarist Neal Schon) and both (keyboard player Jonathan Cain).

What could possibly go wrong? Nothing apart from timing, it turned out. Their self-titled debut album arrived in 1989, moments before the melodic rock ship was beached by the tidal wave of changing musical tastes. Its two monster hits, When I See You Smile and The Price Of Love, were perfectly pitched late-80s ballads, marshmallow-soft hankie-wavers. But it was when Bad English – and especially Schon – cranked things up that they were most effective.

The hard-edged Rockin’ Horse belies its kids’-toy title, while the Anne Rice-inspired Gothic AOR of Forget Me Not remains one of the towering tunes of the era (for aficionados, this reissue adds two unreleased but inessential remixes).

What happened next is scrawled in the history books: grunge came and everything changed. There were still great AOR albums and bands to come, but not one had the success of the old days. Bad English marked the end of an era, but what a last hurrah it was.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.