Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

6Feb/106

Good Listening: Bad English in Allentown, October ’89

"When I See You Smile" was one of those songs that I heard on the radio quite a few times, before I actually knew anything about the band behind the song.  Bad English was the band, a supergroup of sorts featuring vocalist John Waite, former Journey members Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, bass player Ricky Phillips and drummer Deen Castronovo.  The legend behind the band name finds the members of Bad English playing pool.  John Waite misses a shot, and Jonathan Cain comments on how bad his "english" is, a reference to the spin of the cue ball.  Oh, you wacky pool players and your inside terminology.  The members of the band looked at each other (perhaps waiting for Waite to slug Cain), and realized that they had a band name for their new group.

Waite, Cain and Phillips had played together previously during the late '70s and very beginning of the '80s in The Babys, something a good portion of the music buying public probably didn't latch onto when they first heard Bad English.  To many, Waite was the "Missing You" guy, and this new Bad English project rocked a lot harder than they might have expected.

Bad EnglishSince this is 1989 that we're talking about, all of the members of Bad English have really big hair, because they are hard rockers, and the commandments of late '80s hard rock clearly state that you must have big hair to perform these hard rock songs (see also: Nelson, Firehouse).  Pay special attention to the drums, which were just as big (or perhaps even bigger) as the big hair.

Even though the lyrics are often cheesy, I loved (and still do) both Bad English albums, something that I've mentioned before on this site. (I'm not alone on this:  check out Rob Smith's recent piece at Popdose.)  Waite would eventually walk from this project because he was uncomfortable with the "corporate rock image" projected by Bad English.  And there was that little issue of conflict between Waite and Cain as well.  Oh yeah, that.

With Cain, Schon and Castronovo in Journey these days, there was an opportunity several years ago for a mini-Bad English reunion when Waite toured as an opener for Journey.  Unfortunately, the discussed on-stage reunion didn't happen during the tour dates, allegedly because Cain still strongly dislikes Waite from the Bad English experience.  Schon on the other hand, came out to jam with Waite during the final song of Waite's set most nights during the tour.

Waite plays a few Bad English songs in his solo sets, and you can find a couple of them on In Real Time, his new live album which is just about to ship.  Still making music, Waite is currently working on new songs with Kyle Cook of Matchbox Twenty for an EP that he plans to release later this year.  Waite still puts on a hell of a good live show, and I highly recommend checking him out if he comes your way.  From what I've read, it sounds like the live album should be a good representation of Waite's live show, which features a wide range of material from The Babys to solo material/Bad English to present day.

There aren't really any good quality live shows out there from Bad English.  There was at least one live broadcast on FM that circulates many generations removed from the original master.  Like a great white whale, I continue to hunt for a better copy of that show with no success.  Perhaps someone within the Bad English camp has a copy, and if that's the case, it certainly would make good bonus material for a "legacy edition" of the first album.

I was quite excited when I came across this recently posted recording of Bad English, recorded live in Allentown, PA in 1989.  Although it's an audience recording, it's one of the best quality Bad English shows I've come across to date.  As you'll hear from the audience sounds, these old guys were apparently sex symbols, at least for a moment.  I found the following review mention online for this show:

As soon as headliner Bad English hit the stage, every small child and junior-high school-age girl in the theater let out a high-pitched keening noise. Parents and security men flinched.

Bad English, which played at Allentown's Airport Music Hall a few weeks ago, delivered just what this audience craved: wimpy and meaningless lite- metal fluff. It was just what you'd expect from this unholy fusion of former members of The Babys and Journey.

Awesome.

Bad English
Airport Music Hall
Allentown, PA
October 21st, 1989

complete zipped download (download full-res files of this show at Dimeadozen)

01. Best Of What I Got
02. Tough Times Don't Last
03. The Ghost In Your Heart
04. Neal Schon Solo
05. Heaven Is A 4 Letter Word
06. The Price Of Love
07. Rocking Horse
08. Deen Castronovo Solo
09. Lay Down
10. Spinning Wheel Of Love
11. Jonathan Cain Solo
12. When I See You Smile
13. Forget Me Not
14. Head First
15. Jumpin' Jack Flash

  • EightE1

    Very cool boot. Thanks for posting, and for the link to my Popdose column.

    Rob

  • Matt

    Absolutely….and how did I know you would listen to this? Oh yeah, because you HAVE to!

  • Dave

    I was at that Allentown show. How awesome!!!

  • Dave

    I was at that Allentown show. How awesome!!!

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  • Damo

    cool page. I have some extremely live bad english dvds, and some audio shows. One is called ‘when i see you live’ and is a released – cd, not a ‘bootleg’ meaning its not a copied burnt cd. Some dodgy record label mustve put it out… Am thinking of putting it back on Ebay too 😉