Over the course of three albums and an EP, Ugly Kid Joe managed to parlay their pronounced Guns N' Roses fixation into something of a career. On their best songs – "Everything About You," "Neighbour," and "Milkman's Son" – they blended cartoon rebellion and a sense of humor best described as pre-adolescent into powerhouse singles full of tasteless good fun. Perfect for that time of life when all one wants to do is go around breaking things. Though routinely flagged as a hair band, their twin-guitar attack and fondness for funky, bottom-end heavy riffing also places Ugly Kid Joe among the forefathers of the late-'90s rap-metal explosion. As Ugly as They Wanna Be showcases the band in all their juvenile glory – from their surprise hit version of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" to their tight cover of Black Sabbath's "NIB" to "Busybee" – pretty much the best Guns N' Roses song Guns N' Roses never recorded – all the hits are here, present and accounted for.
Recorded in London under an assumed name by legendary session musicians including Alan Parker, Roger Coulam, Herbie Flowers and Clem Cattini, and released with different artwork in Germany and Spain in 1970, before creeping out in the UK the following year, this cult classic is as enigmatic as they come. A moody blend of Hammond organ, distorted electric guitar and funky rhythms, it's also a lost treasure for beat diggers everywhere.
In avant-garde jazz, inside and outside playing have a way of complimenting each other. On Ugly Beauty, which finds Boston pianist Donal Fox forming a cohesive duo with tenor saxman/bass clarinetist David Murray, the inside and outside are fine companions. Some of Murray's playing on this collection of live and studio recordings from 1993 is quite melodic, and the fact that his playing is as lyrical as it is on the Thelonious Monk classics "Ugly Beauty" and "'Round Midnight" makes his dissonant, chaotic statements on "Golden Ladders," "Hope Scope," and "Becca's Ballad" seem all the more dramatic and meaningful. The inside/outside contrasts keep things unpredictable on this rewarding album, which Fox and Murray can both be proud of.