In the summer of 1989 a band made its way onto my radar, and that band was BAD ENGLISH. With a musical pedigree of the highest order I was immediately intrigued as soon as I saw the video on MTV for “Forget Me Not.” And how could I not be? I was in a super-hot makeout sesh with my girlfriend at the time, but I pulled away as soon as I heard John Waite’s voice. I just KNEW it was him. Joining this vocal legend were JOURNEY’S Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain on guitars and keyboards respectively, and a powerhouse rhythm section of Deen Castronovo (drums) and Ricky Phillips (bass). And they were in a new band…TOGETHER!!!
As soon as I left my girl’s place I biked my fucking ass off to Uncle Phil’s on Sunrise Highway to find their self-titled debut. Luckily they had it. So what did I do next? Popped whatever tape was in the by now legendary (no, not really) Walkman out and inserted this wonderful record. Right away my ears were greeted by “Best of What I Got”, which was the best way to get this party started! I’m not gonna lie, I biked a little bit harder down the path with this tune in my ears. “Heaven Is a 4 Letter Word” is the perfect mid-tempo follow up to this, while the aforementioned first single “Forget Me Not” is not only an awesome song, but a perfect introduction to this amazing band.
And then, BAM! Out of nowhere comes this beautiful, amazing ballad named “When I See You Smile”, penned by Diane Warren and sung with conviction by Waite. I still love it so much to this day. And this bitch was on MANY a mixtape for my old girlfriends back in the day. How could it not be? The ladies absolutely melted for this one from ‘89-’95 at least. For all I know, some of them still do, that’s how out of touch I am. By the way, Schon plays the perfect solo on this one. Side one concludes with another rocker in “Tough Times Don’t Last”, a song that I have used as my personal mantra many times while I was in the throes of my cocaine addiction so many years ago. It’s an empowering tune that got me through it; hopefully you too.
Side Two opens with one of my favorite songs in “Ghost In Your Heart.” Lyrically and musically this one is so choice. From the standpoint of a musician who has had to leave stability, and a woman he loves behind, I can 100% relate. So to me, this will always be about the one who got away. I just hope she’s happy, wherever she is. Next up is “Price of Love”, a ballad that is an absolute tearjerker for me, because the lyrics remind me of what a shit I was to all those girls so many years ago. And I hate that version of myself, but I have to live with the mistakes I made. Still, Waite’s singing on this track is off the fucking charts, and I love it, love it, love it!!
“Ready When You Are” and “Lay Down” are interesting because they are such cool party anthems. “Lay Down” also has this sexy riff that instantly connected with me, and I still shake my head that this one wasn’t a single. Dumb fucks at the label if you ask me. No, you didn’t, but I don’t care. “The Restless Ones” is a song that really makes you take stock of where you are in life, and also casts a melancholy look at the past. I have stood in front of my mirror with tears streaming down my face countless times to this one wondering what could have been.
But the most amazing track for me, back then, and even now is “Don’t Walk Away.” I remember first hearing it and thinking to myself, “This is a man pouring his heart out and begging her not to go.” It moved me beyond words, and it still does. I have cried many times to this one, and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. This is one of those tunes that just hits you right where it hurts. As soon as you hear it, you know. In 1989 BAD ENGLISH put out an album that was not only rockin’, but also an album that connected with fans like me on an emotional level. I know I’ve laughed and cried to many of these songs, just like you…right? So, for these reasons this will forever be in the Classic Albums family. ~dc