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RECORD RACK

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). : * 1/2 UGLY KID JOE "America's Least Wanted" Stardog/Mercury

September 06, 1992|STEVE HOCHMAN

Just as Billy Ray Cyrus rode the country wave with nothing more than ill-defined stylistic exercises and beefcake looks, Ugly Kid Joe--which scored a surprise hit with last year's "As Ugly as They Wanna Be" EP--benefits from alternative's rise with nothing more than borrowed sounds and a semblance of attitude.

These five Santa Barbarians are generic MTV-rad-party dudes in baggies and Ts who seem to know how certain kinds of rock are supposed to sound but have no clue as to why. Some of the album sounds like an Ozzy tribute, some is pseudo-Chili Peppers funk-metal, and both come far short of the mark, thanks to thin vocals and rhythm work, respectively.

The would-be centerpiece, "Goddamn Devil," has neither the irony nor the evil needed to revive that tired topic, despite a guest appearance by Judas Priest's knowing Rob Halford. Turning Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" into a power ballad was a bad idea to begin with; making it sound neither snotty nor particularly sincere only compounds the error.

Snotty for sure is the early-'92 hit "Everything About You," a one-in-yer-face-joke that wore thin the first time around, yet makes an unnecessary repeat appearance here. America's least wanted? Probably not. Least interesting? Now you're on target.

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