Album Review: The Bad Bad Bad - "Real Reel-Reel Bad Bad Bad"

Review by Ira Henderson

I wasn’t quite sure how to approach reviewing The Bad Bad Bad’s album “Real Reel-Reel Bad Bad Bad ”. When my editor sent me the album, saying “from our friends”, I got flashes of the movie Donnie Brascoe. Maybe I just watch too many gangster flicks. Should I write a good review out of friendship? Or bad review, just for spite? Then I figured I should just listen to the thing and be honest. But enough about me; I hate it when reviewers ramble. From here on it’s all about The Bad Bad Bad.

First reaction to the first track on first listen: “This sounds like a bootlegged B-side of Nirvana or The Smashing Pumpkins or something.” Upon reflection, this says two things: First, this band has mastered the grunge aesthetic. Second, the production quality is poor poor poor.

Noisography has reviewed a few Bad Bad Bad shows. The guys rock live. Listening to the album, I can see why they do. The songs are pure balls-to-the-wall, riff-laden, chunky, wailing, filthy grit-rock. You can almost smell the stale beer and sweat seeping through the speakers. Close your eyes and you can almost see the crowds of leather and denim outside Gus’s and the Seahorse. The playing is aggressive and competent; with just enough joyous sloppy talent to keep each song unique within a unified set and keep all heads banging throughout. That being said, that is a hell of a hard thing to capture on an album.

Walk into a good live rock show and the first thing you feel is the bass humping your tits and the guitar grinding your teeth. Pop this album on your headphones and you don’t quite get the same feeling. The heavily distorted guitar, oh-so huge live, is a little too pinched and muddy. The cymbals hiss and wash over the drums. The whole thing is a leans too much to the treble side. Then there are the vocals. Even when the guy’s screaming I can’t hear half of what he’s saying. The singing is reminiscent of the classic I-can’t-believe-I-actually-have-to-sing style pioneered by Johnny Rotten. But when Johnny did it, at least on the album, you can hear him. Slurring, grunting and yelling at the mic can work live, but on an album it can get annoying. It is a testament to the quality of the music that there are still some good moments to be found on the album. There are a couple of nice licks and solos, and some tight rolling riffs. However, it does have that thick, hissy bootlegged B-side feel to it. You can tell this is a good band but you can also tell that the recording doesn’t exactly do them justice.

Of course, given the band’s grungy aesthetic that favours power and energy before balance and subtlety, some might say that I’m missing the point and wining about nothing. Maybe rock isn’t supposed to be pretty. But still, power and energy are hard things to pin down on an album. I don’t think this bottle’s got any lightning in it. I this music needs a bar around it. But if you don’t mind, or even prefer, the made-in-the-basement sound, this is a solid album.

Above all, if you get a chance, get out and see these guys live.

Released 2010 (self release) / 2011 (scotch tapes)
Live off the floor, first take, directly to an Otari two track reel to reel tape machine.
Recorded by Kyle Furlotte in his parents basement in August 2010.

Check out The Bad Bad Bad - "Real Reel-Reel Bad Bad Bad" for yourself here:


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