From 1987 until 1991, Bad English was a glam metal supergroup that rocked the fans, courtesy of the talent pool from previously successful recording artists from Journey and The Babys. Jonathan Cain, Deen Castronovo, Ricky Philips, Neal Schon, and John Waite came up with the name while playing a round of pool. Waite missed a shot that gave Cain cause to comment about how bad his shot was. The terminology used to spin the cue ball when a player makes their shot is called “English.” So, Bad English wound up becoming the official name of the band.
Beginning the Journey
When Journey officially broke up as a band, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon teamed up with Ricky Philips and John Waite of The Babys fame. Completing the lineup was Deen Castronovo. With Waite as the lead vocalist, the 1989 debut album, Bad English, produced six hit singles that would each find a place on various music charts. In sales, the album became certified platinum with the Recording Industry Association of America, as well as gold with Music Canada.
During the spring months of 1990, Bad English embarked on an American tour, alongside Whitesnake to promote its debut album. The band’s popularity was at its peak, which was enough to go back to the recording studio and produce another album.
In 1991, Bad English recorded and released its second album, Backlash. The band did this without any fanfare and the recording produced two hit singles. It also served as the supergroup’s final album as creative differences among the band members gave them cause to go separate ways. According to Waite, the former bandmates from Journey seemed to long for a reunion with Steve Perry while Waite personally wanted to go back to performing as a solo artist.
According to Ricky Philips, Bad English already broke up before the second album was mixed. He, along with Neal Schon, wanted the band to produce hard rock music that had more edge. Backlash wasn’t this at all. Even John Waite admitted as much as he enjoyed performing in stadium-sized concerts he didn’t care for the corporate rock image the supergroup represented. It was also stated by Waite the desire to finish the second album properly wasn’t given enough time to do so, which likely served as the final nail to Bad English’s coffin as a band.
With Bad English officially disbanded, Deen Castronovo and Neal Schon formed Hardline in 1991 before moving on yet again to pursue other projects. By 1998, a revived Journey featured Jonathan Cain, Deen Castronovo, and Neal Schon. As for Ricky Philips, he worked as a session musician before joining Styx’s band roster in 2003.
Top 10 Bad English Songs
# 10 – So This Is Eden
From Bad English’s second album, Backlash, “So This Is Eden” was the first of ten tracks that laid out the musical pattern of a recording that mostly embraced the theme of rainy weather and rivers. As a ballad, John Waite’s “So This Is Eden” involved a wild weekend spent in a small town that actually made him feel dead instead of alive. This was a hard rockin’ song that was signature glam metal when it was released in 1991. However, glam metal was losing the spotlight to the surging popularity of grunge music so it failed to make an appearance on any official music charts.
What made “So This Is Eden” a favorite was hearing the guitar solo, followed by the bridging shift of “breathe in, breathe out” as the keyboard played its stretch of drama in the background.
#9 – The Time Alone with You
From 1991’s Backlash, “The Time Alone with You” had phenomenal solos and an incredible guitar intro that made this song an easy favorite among Bad English’s fan base. Perhaps if the supergroup hadn’t gone their separate ways before the album was properly finished, this song could have been polished even further to turn it into one of the greatest glam rock songs of all time.
Track for track, Backlash was regarded as an album that was loaded with music that revolved around bad weather and large bodies of water. “The Time Alone with You” was a touching love ballad that further defined John Waite’s signature sound. While music critics gave harsh reviews, the fans felt otherwise as this was an ideal song for the romantic inside to come out and enjoy the moment.
# 8 – Best of What I Got
On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, “Best of What I Got” became a number nine hit. The songwriting skills of Bad English were at their best in a song that’s truly one of a kind. John Waite hammered this powerful tune home with his unmistakable vocals while the guitar heroes rocked this number the way a glam metal number should. “Best of What I Got” was a lyrical declaration of love that was perfectly executed by Waite’s unmistakable vocals. This was beautifully backed by a classic glam metal sound that finished off the decade of the 80s with a musical masterpiece. It was good enough to be played during the closing credits of 1989’s action comedy flick, Tango & Cash.
# 7 – Time Stood Still
“Time Stood Still” was the final hit released from Bad English’s second studio album, Backlash. It was also the final hit credited to the supergroup as each member had already ventured off to pursue other projects by this time. On the official singles chart belonging to the Netherlands, “Time Stood Still” peaked as high as number nineteen. It was among many power ballads vocalized by John Waite that had an association with rain and rivers. What made “Time Stood Still” a standout favorite was the incredible guitar performance before ripping into one of the best lyrically written tunes credited to the supergroup.
#6 – Heaven Is a 4 Letter Word
“Heaven Is a 4 Letter Word” was the fifth single released from Bad English’s debut album, which was released in 1989. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it peaked as high as number twelve. It was a number sixty-six hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Among the supergroup’s fan base, many will argue that “Heaven Is a 4 Letter Word” is their personal favorite. The unique vocal talent of John Waite, combined with the rockin’ guitar served up a rock classic that perfectly symbolized what 1980s glam metal was all about.
So what is that word that best spells heaven? While Bad English has its own idea of what it is, as far as the fans are concerned, “Heaven Is a 4 Letter Word” was a solid contender as a rocker’s heavenly favorite.
#5 – Possession
The sixth and final hit from 1989’s Bad English album was “Possession.” On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number twenty-one hit. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, it peaked as high as number forty-two. “Possession” was sung in the background while John Waite delivered this power ballad that could easily rival “When I See You Smile” as a fan favorite.
When it came to power ballads, Bad English seemed to hone this as the band’s signature sound. John Waite’s lyrical talent gave him an easily identifiable sound that rightfully earned him scores of fans worldwide. For the period of time Bad English performed as a band, they possessed a loyal fan following for good reason.
#4 – Straight to Your Heart
“Straight to Your Heart” was the first of two hit singles released from Bad English’s second album, Backlash. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number forty-two. In the Netherlands, it also became a number forty-one hit. The highlight of this tune was Neal Schon’s guitarwork as he once again rocked a song to a level of greatness that can only be achieved by such talent. Released in 1991, this rockin’ love song still has the ability to trigger the glam metal fan that knows greatness when they hear it.
#3 – Forget Me Not
“Forget Me Not” was the first single released from Bad English’s debut album after it debuted in 1989. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it peaked as high as number two. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it was a number forty-five hit. From the very start of “Forget Me Not,” this was a dramatic song that made the most out of a fantastic build into a hard-rockin’ number that understandably became a glam metal fan favorite. Fast and furious, “Forget Me Not” still remains an unforgettable favorite with an audience that still regards Bad English as one of the best hard rock talents ever assembled.
#2 – Price of Love
On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Price of Love” peaked at number five as a hit single after it was released in 1989. Globally, it became a number forty-four hit in Australia, a number seventy-eight hit in Canada, and a number eighty hit in the UK. While “Price of Love” didn’t quite share the same fan appeal as “When I See You Smile,” it was still one of Bad English’s greatest hits this short-lived supergroup ever produced. What made Bad English and its debut album popular was the power ballads that also displayed roots of a hard rock edge.
Even though “When I See You Smile” got all the attention as Bad English’s signature hit, the quality of “Price of Love” as a song established itself as the preferred favorite among some of the supergroup’s fan base. This was the perfect power ballad coming from a glam metal band that had all the right stuff to rank as a cult classic.
Despite the personality conflict that existed between Jonathan Cain and John Waite, the two former bandmates from The Babys wrote “Price of Love” together. In the lyrics, Waite addressed his love interest as a vulnerable lover who knew despite the rough patches in their relationship there was still enough going on for them to stay together. This was a great song that still has all the right elements to make it an ideal tune to be featured in movie and television productions.
#1 – When I See You Smile
In 1989, “When I See You Smile” became a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also became certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, as well as platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association. On Australia’s ARIA charts, “When I See You Smile” peaked as high as number four. In the UK, it was a number sixty-one hit.
This ballad featured John Waite as Bad English’s lead vocalist as he addressed the love interest in the story as an appreciative love song. It won over the hearts of fans worldwide, becoming the supergroup’s signature hit that’s still a favorite to this day. Not even the negative reviews that came from the music critics were enough to diminish the popularity of this song.
It should be noted of the thirteen songs featured on Bad English’s debut album, eleven of them were originally written by the band. “When I See You Smile” was one of the two songs that didn’t come from the penmanship talent of the band. It was written by Diane Warren, an established songwriter that’s made a name for herself as she supplied hits for a long list of successful recording artists.
Top 10 Bad English Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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