Badlands - Badlands


Not blessed, or merciful
Apr 11, 2001
Sarf Lundin, Innit
Badlands - Badlands
Koch Records - 2001
By Rodrigo


This June, Koch Records plans to reissue the debut release of the band Badlands. The album originally came out in 1989 and this is actually the first time I heard it. The band was composed of guitarist Jake E. Lee, drummer Eric Singer, bassist Greg Chaisson and vocalist Ray Gillen. The band definitely had the talent and Badlands was a success when it first came out; it even charted at #57 in the Billboard charts and stayed there for 26 weeks. Unfortunately, for the Badlands a long prosperous career was not in the cards and the band parted ways a few years later. Any hope of any sort of reunion was dashed away when Ray died in 1994. So know we can only relive the memories of their first album.

Badlands played rock and roll highly infused by blues that easily reminds me of Led Zeppelin. "Rumblin’ Train" is actually a total blues song. It has the deliberate blues pace, the rhythm section maintains the pace perfectly and Jake has some great solos. In fact what I think is the strongest characteristic of Badlands is the playing of Jake. He has ample opportunities to shred and he really comes out with excellent aggressive and melodic riffs and solos. One of the best songs is "Winter’s Call" because of it’s diversity and Jake plays a great aggressive riff at about one minute and a half into the song. He also finishes the song with grand style showcasing very cool solos. The other thing I like of this song is the subtle use of keyboards, mandolin and sitar in the background. It really adds to the overall atmosphere. But Jake can also play soft and beautiful music as is the case in the short acoustic instrumental, "Jade’s Song". However, I do feel that as the album goes by the songs get formulaic. "Streets Cry Freedom" and "Devil’s Stomp" reminded me too much of "Winter’s Call". They have similar slow intros and as the songs progress the tempo picks up. They are also all similar in length. This also happens with the other songs in the album. The first couple of songs of the album "High Wire" and "Dancer in the Dark" are fast, fresh, blues driven songs that are really good but then other songs like "Dancing on the Edge" and "Hard Driver" sound too similar too each other and the other similar songs. Now not only is the music very similar to Led Zeppelin but Ray is a dead ringer for Robert Plant. He sounds so much like Robert that at times I actually believe that he is Robert and that becomes problematic.

It feels like Badlands tries too hard to sound like Led Zeppelin and by doing that they lose originality. If I want to listen to Led Zeppelin I will listen to them and not a band that is trying to sound like them. Plus, the fact that the songs begin to sound alike makes for a very tedious listen in the end. Badlands is an OK album. There are some great parts but the mediocre supercedes those parts.