Bad News – for you and you and you and you….you CAN be funny about bloodlust, paranoid Metal.
Release Date: 18th August 2023
Label: HNE Recordings
Bad News Tour. Possibly the finest of Channel 4’s Comic Strip Presents series from the Eighties. Even trumping the Famous Five spoofs and particularly so if you’re a Metal fan. So good that like the ‘Five’, they earned a repeat outing, Bad News Tour was followed by More Bad News; a sequel that even earned the hapless quartet a slot on the bill at Castle Donnington, now known as Download, and a record contract (albeit with Frilly Pink) that saw an attempt to invade the singles chart, destroying Bohemian Rhapsody with the blessing of Brian May.
In hindsight, we know Ade Edmondson actually has some musical skill. In his role as Vim states in Bad News Tour, “the only trouble with Colin is that he can’t play,” which might be true to varying degrees about his bandmates, but the quartet do enough of an amateur job to carry the illusion and maintain the finely observed humour. Ade himself might be a frustrated rock star, but he certainly knows all the shapes and like his character, came across as the guiding light.
But Bad News is all about the comical highs and lows of a fledgling band doing their best to break through and like Spinal Tap that followed, has more than its fair share of reality on which to draw. Regularly quoted in the circles in which I move, quite often it’s the thoughts of Chairman Den Dennis (Nigel Planer) that provide the gems – from “It says sausaGES up there. Where’s me other sausage?” to “does anyone want this last cheese one?” and “bloody hell Vim, it’s a Marshall!” and Vim’s wonderful “if that’s a G…” etc, from the studio session that set off one of the many band fall outs. Bad News is the gift that keeps giving.
It’s the Frilly Pink archives that are raided for this collection. 1987’s eponymous album (I had it on a tape with fold out insert where the stage outfits, and their contents, were revealed in their full glory, and on expanded CD) is paired with Bootleg from the following year to provide the definitive Bad News collection.
So with a “let us free the universe with our own peculiar brand of heavy metal” and a Tommy Vance intro (“the worst rock and roll band in the world” – live at Donnington), for a bunch of actors and wannabe musicians, they have the balls to get on stage in front of a rabid HM crowd and knock out one of their eponymous tunes, encouraging the Donnington hoardes to a bout of audience participation. “Hey, hey Bad News” gets a suitably profane alternative and we’re off and running as the band get well and truly bottled in Eighties rock festival fashion.
From the start of the very first episode, some might recall, “What’s that playing on the tape Vim?” “It’s a tape….nah, it’s our new song, called Bad News.” Vim/Alan/Ade even rips into the Zep’s Whole Lotta Love breaks for solo parts. His is duly epic while Colin’s and Den’s (“Den! It’s your break!“) are cringingly hilarious. Someone, possibly Spider, even manages a Bonham-esque shuffle. The sponge even contains some of Vim’s most comic-Metal-worthy lyrics – “Megawatt winged avenger” indeed.
The dialogue is a mix of The Troggs Tapes, Spinal Tap and Derek & Clive, fuelled by beer and a stack of lager that often works its way into the songs. Vim and Colin portray the love/(but mainly)hate that often occurs in bands – you can easily name and handful of famous fallout between key band members. Poor Colin even gets his head dkicke din by Den a one point. Masturbike sees them encouraged to “pick up the f**king beat!!” when they actually hit on a rapid Motorhead groove and even the normally inept Colin manages the bassline as the stream-of-consciousness lyrics take hold. They even knock out a standard Rock boogie on Drink ‘Til I Die.
Bootleg gathers together lots of odds and ends – mainly offerings of dialogue peppered with ‘musical’ bursts. The highlight might be the charms of Den’s hilarious Status Quo-esque (and moving) acoustic demo’ing of Bad Dreams (“nightmare! here comes the beast again!“) and Den again in the Locked In sequence. Hardly essential Bad New to be fair, but let’s assume that the vaults have been totally cleared. The bottom of the barrel well and truly scraped! However, if you’ve enjoyed the Comic Strips, an essential artifact. If you’ve not been initiated into the world of thHM’s Fab Four, head there first before the delights of the recorded work.
Here’s Warriors Of Ghengis Kahn (“Den, you have to look MEAN!”):