‘80s Supergroups: Bad English


Hi Everybody! Today, I am excited to introduce you to a guest writer. Robert is a long time reader of this site, and has a passion for ’80s pop culture – especially movies and music. He has been teaching English for 23 years – 21 years of this is at Kearney High School in Kearney, Nebraska. And you all would be happy to know that he is passing his love of the ’80s on to his students. They have gotten some of the “Remember That Song” answers. So, we have the real deal here!
Well, I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did. And just as you do for the Top 40 Countdown and Who’s the Boss? series, you can click on the song titles to listen to the song/watch the music video. And please feel free to show Robert some love, and leave some feedback in the comments section. Now take it away, Robert!!!


I recently read about a new rock band that was set to release it’s first album. Honestly, I usually do not pay attention to a new release unless it is a new album from one of my favorites from the ‘80s, but this one intrigued me. The music company set to release this album was Frontiers Records who makes it a priority to release new music from older rock bands. The band was called Revolution Saints, so I did a little checking and I was sold. This band’s members included Deen Castronova (from Journey) on drums and vocals, Jack Blades (from Night Ranger) on bass and vocals, and Doug Aldrich (from Whitesnake) on guitar. I shared this with a few of my ‘80s friends and (im)patiently waited for the February 24th release. After my very first listen, I knew I had a fantastic album in my possession. As I continued to listen to it (again and again), I realized that here was a supergroup – established musicians from a variety of bands who came together to form a new band. My mind immediately raced back the the decade I love to pull out great supergroups of the ‘80s. And I thought of a few. Many of these bands were not around for a long time, but they left a great impression on the rock/pop world. I am going to revisit several of these supergroups and pay proper recognition to the music they created.

First up, one of my favorites, Bad English.

Take three members from the moderately successful band The Babys, add two members from the mega successful band Journey, sprinkle in a drummer, and you have a supergroup. Bad English combined the talents of John Waite, Ricky Phillips, and Jonathan Cain (from The Babys) with Neal Schon and (again) Jonathan Cain (from Journey). They added a young drummer by the name of Deen Castronova and now Bad English was ready to record an excellent rock album.

Bad English released their first album in June of 1989 under the title Bad English. They released a followup, Backlash, in 1991, but it was not fully completed before the band parted ways; it was mastered and released under difficult circumstances and received very poor critical reviews. Due to this unfortunate situation, I am going to focus on the excellent first album.

All the members of the band came to this first album with excellent resumes. Vocalist John Waite had a few hits with The Babys, but reached true pop music heights with his song Missing You, which reached #1 on the Billboard singles chart in the summer of 1984. Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain had been at the top of the rock world for years with Journey. Schon was a founding member and guitarist for the band and Cain joined on keyboards after the departure of Greg Rollie; his first album with Journey was Escape (quite a place to start!). The music on their debut album was reminiscent of both The Babys and Journey. It had a clear rock edge to most of the songs, and also included a few excellent ballads that charted well. A total of five singles charted in the Hot 100: Forget Me Not #45, When I See You Smile #1, Price of Love #5, Heaven is a 4 Letter Word #66, and Possession #21. Schon’s guitar carried the heavier songs while the combination Cain’s keyboards and Waite’s vocals made for perfect ballads.

This was one of those albums that had no really bad songs; many were great, but none were awful. Bad English is longer than most albums released in the ‘80s – 13 songs clocking in at just over an hour. On to the track listing.


Best of What I Got

I am not sure if there is a better way to start an album. The first time I popped the CD in (volume turned way up, of course), I was blown away. Cain’s keyboards, Schon’s guitar, and Castronova’s drums kick off this album in an awesome fashion. This song was not a single, but it should have been.

Heaven is a 4 Letter Word

This song begins with a good beat and a solid rhythm guitar. It is an upbeat song that cautions the listener- jump into love, but realize it is full of ups and downs.

Possession

This was another single from the album. It is a catchy ballad, but it falls a bit short of When I See You Smile. This song approaches love from the angle of a man who is madly in love with a woman; so much so, that he cannot live without her.

Forget Me Not

This was the first single from the album and the reason I bought it – no questions asked. I caught the video one day on MTV when they were featuring new songs. I was enjoying the video (a lot), and then I saw that the guitarist really looked like Neal Schon, who was one of my favorites. I ran to the local CD store, took a close look and BAM!, it was Schon – and Cain! I had all of Journey’s albums, so I bought Bad English right away. This song may not have been a major hit, but it was a solid song that helped the band gain attention as well as being a sign of things to come.

When I See you Smile

This is the smash hit from this album. It is a simple love song with great instrumentation. It is a typical and effective love song with great vocals, keyboards that establish a clean melody, and a signature guitar solo. Yes, it belongs on every mix tape of ‘80s love songs.

Tough Times Don’t Last

This is another upbeat song that depends on Schon’s rhythm guitar to lead the way. It depicts the need for all of us to have someone who keeps us going and makes all of the difficult times worth it.

Ghost in Your Heart

This songs examines the idea of the inevitable regrets of a break up. It is nearly impossible to completely forget about the former object of one’s love, “Are you crying in your sleep tonight? / Are you lying with him, thinking about me tonight?” Oh, and another great guitar solo and more strong drumming.

Price of Love

Another ballad: “And through the good and bad times / You have always been there / We Hold each other close / You tell me its alright / The nights we fight about it, never dream of giving up / That’s the price of love.” Although there are several ballads on this album, they clearly portray different stages of loving relationships; this one shows the mature realization that, despite problems, the couple needs each other.

Ready When You Are

This song opens with Castronova’s drums and takes off from there. It never slows down – great rocker.

Lay Down

Bad English’s fine musicianship is clear on this entire album, and this may be the most infectious rhythm guitar work. This up tempo rock song represents masterful blending of all the band members’ talents.

The Restless Ones

Back to the ballads. Cain’s celestial keyboards introduce this song – no wait – it’s not a ballad, not even a love song. The Restless Ones alternates tempos to accompany lyrics with the theme of breaking away from expectations and forging an original path.

Rockin’ Horse

Pure rock n’ roll here – aggressive, a bit bluesy, and includes an allusion to a Golden Earring hit.

Don’t Walk Away

This is my favorite song on the album. It is a gentle song about a past relationship. It has a good beat and smooth lyrics, “There’s nothing in tomorrow that wasn’t there in yesterday.”


As as a whole, this is a solid album by fantastic musicians. It is a fine example of what can happen when fine artists from different bands combine their talents. It is unfortunate that Bad English couldn’t sustain this level of creativity and music for several more albums.

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