Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain future, is the 1994 debut eponymous album by 4-piece British boy band Bad Boys Inc. Will this album leave you Walking On Air, or is this just a load of monkey business? Read on…
This 12 track album opens with the flittering synth of the sixth and final single Love Here I Come. This sound alone instantly reminds me of its contemporary chart dweller D:Ream‘s early tracks. It’s a fairly light bouncy pop song, giving the guys get some nice vocal harmonies in the chorus whilst Matthew Pateman takes the lead.
I Will Give You Forever follows this, and this is a much stronger song. There’s plenty of almost Motown-inspired drums, as the guys seem to channel Take That and Big Fun simultaneously. There’s plenty of boucing bass and piano helping to carry this song along. It seems to have a clear structure and flow, and this may be helped by the co-writing of Hazell Dean.
Next up is More To This World, which was the album’s 4th single, and is the group’s biggest hit, reaching #8 in the UK singles chart. Matthew’s vocals really shine here from the moment he leads the piano on. His vocal range and power gets the perfect exhibition throughout this song. At times, he seems to vocally deliver some micro-Bros tics. Again, we’ve got some polished structure to this song, with plenty of builds AND delivery, and yet it effortlessly flows along. The chorus is wonderfully catchy, and we’re treated to some macho ‘woah’ vocals before the final chorus. A pop gem.
This is followed by second single Whenever You Need Someone, which reached #26. This track is nice enough, but not as strong as the previous track, but I think that this needed to lift the bass and beats in the mix as Matthew’s vocals dominate here. There’s a sultry saxophone solo that really sits in this track perfectly though, and it sits under the next verse helping to build the track. The vocal harmonies are really nice and warm again, joined by vocalist Robbie Craig (Artful Dodger and East17) on backing vocals.
Falling For You is next, and this track takes a slightly fuller sound, with Matthew’s lead playing perfectly alongside it. He gets some great vocal kicks throughout – ‘lay-DEH!’ It’s a bouncy track again, and it sounds like there’s lots going on just under the vocals that rarely get the chance to surface. Saxophone does burst through again though, alongside lots of 90’s signature ‘woah woah woah woah‘. It’s a nice little light pop song.
Take Me Away (I’ll Follow You) is up next, and this was the album’s 5th single, giving them a #15 hit which is a shame as this is quite an upbeat little pop song. The house pianos, vocal harmonies, and the song’s harder beat really would have fit in amongst the chart, and a little reminiscent of Eternal, .
Okay, turn the lights down, we’re into the lovey-dovey third single, Walking On Air, which reached #24 in the UK chart. Perhaps fitting with the title, the vocals are light and airy – perhaps too light and high though, and I can imagine a re-working where it’s sung in a much lower register as a sultry jazz club number with plenty of doo-wop-ing. Instead, the vocals flit between an almost too high and a mid scale, that it makes it a bit disorientating and uncomfortable. Musically the song works well though. Just too much O2.
The next track You’re My Destiny races in, sounding not so far from a disco sound, assisted by liberal uses of funky guitars and flute. The track is catchy, and it sounds like a cover, but it’s actually a co-write between album producer Ian Levine, and group members David W Ross and Matthew Pateman. The vocals are confident, upbeat, and flow perfectly. This really should have been a single.
Heaven Knows follows this, continuing the disco feeling, which is unsurprising given that it’s a Donna Summer cover, co-written with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte track. Fitting right in with the disco sound, I spot in the sleeve notes, that Leee John of 80’s hit band Imagination is putting in some backing vocals. It’s a great little disco pop track, and perhaps this would have worked as a good single choice instead of one of the many others this album saw release.
Piano and brass stabs lead in next track Honestly. It starts off well, almost carrying on that disco pop sound for a third track, but then the melody in the verse sounds completely ad lib, and disjointed. It picks up for the chorus though, again allowing the guys to show off their vocal harmonies alongside Matthew’s lead. Definitely an album track at best.
Penultimate track Dream Along With Me Tonight opens with all brooding ‘oohs’, finger clicks, and some sexy saxophone. This is a mid-tempo track and seems to be all about the vocals, and whilst the lyrically the song is a bit twee, the guys put in a great vocal performance again.
The album closes with lead single Don’t Talk About Love, which is a welcome injection of energy. The track is another highlight of the album, and it’s a shame it wasn’t first on the tracklisting. The single gave them their first taste of chart action, giving a moderate hit at #19 in the UK. It’s aged pretty well.
Over all, this album has a few good strong tracks – More To This World, Don’t Talk About Love, and You’re My Destiny being the strongest examples.
Sadly, there’s quite a few similarly sounding songs too, which is more of an issue for the producer rather than the group – given that there’s plenty of different writer’s work here. To be fair though, the early-mid 90’s UK singles chart was laden with boy bands, pop groups, and singles-only artists, and this sound would have fitted right in, but also blended right in too, making BBI easily overlooked despite their clean-cut, ab-flashing, youthful good looks.
I’d have chopped the album down to 10 tracks, brought down the register on Walking On Air to make it sound like an old jazz number, and beefed up the bass and drums throughout the mix. The vocals are strong, bright, confident, and the harmonies are flawless – giving a real warmth, but then it wasn’t enough to topple their rivals Take That, and it’s still not.
- POP RESCUE 2020 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1994 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #13
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.50 from The Salvation Army store.