From The Vault: Bad 4 Good – ‘Refuge’

1992 was an interesting year in music. Looking back at some of the landmark events of its 365 or so days:

  •  Rob Halford announces that he’s leaving Judas Priest while Ozzy Osbourne “retires”
  • Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album goes to No. 1 in the US Billboard 200 chart, establishing the widespread popularity of the Grunge movement of the 1990s, while ‘November Rain’ by Guns N’ Roses enters the world record books when it becomes the longest single, at 8 minutes, 57 seconds, to reach the US Top 20
  • The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert takes place at Wembley Stadium in London with all proceeds going to AIDS research

In terms of notable releases:

  • Faith No More release ‘Angel Dust’
  • W.A.S.P ‘The Grimson Idol’
  • The Prodigy ‘Experience’
  • Ugly Kid Joe ‘America’s Least Wanted’

….and somewhat completely under the radar, Bad 4 Good release ‘Refugee’.

Who Were Bad 4 Good?

Bad 4 Good were a band of teenagers put together by guitar hero Steve Vai.Bad 4 Good - Band Cover With the youngest at the time being aged 12 and eldest at 16, Bad 4 Good were leap years ahead of their time. The band was comprised by Danny Cooksey on vocals, Thomas McRocklin on guitar, Zack Young on bass and Brooks Wackerman on drums. At 16 years of age, Cooksey was a child actor who had appeared in the US hit show ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ as well as the movie Terminator 2. McRocklin, at the tender age of 11, had appeared in Steve Vai’s ‘The Audience Is Listening’ video and had his 5 minutes of fame while opening for Ozzy Osbourne in concert. Young was the youngest graduate of the ‘Bass Institute of Technology’ at 15, while 15-year-old Wackerman had won regional rock and jazz awards, plus had a Remo endorsement.

Bad 4 Good - 'Refuge' These guys were anything but amateurs and while their music may have been dismissed by many rock/metal fans, it’s not an album that one can dismiss all-together. Aggressive, polished, straightforward hard rock played by an accomplished group of teenagers, mentored by Vai who had his fair share of contribution in the songwriting, composition and production of the album itself. It kicks off with a cover of Phil Lynott’s ‘Nineteen’ which really get’s the album off to a pace-paced aggressive start. ‘Curious Intentions’ and ‘Bangin’ Time Again’ continue in roughly the same pace, while things start to mellow out from ‘Mother of Love’ onwards. ‘Slow and Beautiful’ is your typical late 80’s to early 90’s emotion-drenched get-yer-lighters-out ballad while a few “filler” tracks start to creep in. ’Terminate’ is a cheesy as cheese can get with influence clearly drawn from Cooksey’s acting years, while ‘Tyre Kickin’ (Ya Makin’ Me Nervous) doesn’t seem to really go anywhere. The album closes with the inane rap-rocker ‘Felony’.

The Downward Spiral

‘Refugee’ failed to sell and after the accompanying tour was complete Bad 4 Good - Refugee - Back CoverMcRocklin departed to form Virgin Sun. The remainder of the band remained together briefly as Lucy’s Milk, before deciding to break apart. Following the break-up, Cooksey returned to acting, Wackerman joined both Bad Religion and Suicidal Tendencies, Young formed a rock/electro-clash band called Artificial Intelligence (A.I) and McRocklin started working in a music store. It was an abrupt end to what was a promising start for this talented young band.

I was fortunate to own ‘Refugee’ on cassette and will admit to listening to ‘Nineteen’ pretty much on repeat. The tape disappeared as did my memory of the band but every once in a while Bad 4 Good would creep back into my thoughts. Through the wonders of the internet, in March 2014 I found their album on CD in near mint condition on eBay for a mere £3.99. Suprisingly, their album seems to have not only retained its original value but also gained some as well, with some new and sealed CD versions worth over $150 and used one’s above $50. The cassette edition is also worth a pretty penny as well.

Remembering ‘Refugee’

And there you have it. Our trip down memory lane, remembering an album which is now some 22 years old. Yet listening to songs like ‘Nineteen’ you get the feeling that it was only just released yesterday.

If you’re lucky enough to still have this in your collection either on cassette or CD, hold onto it. If you’ve never come across them but would like to, shop around, there’s still some copies floating about and with some unaware of the growing value of ‘Refugee’ it’s easy to swipe a bargain.

Here’s that killer opening track ‘Nineteen’.

 

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