from the Illinois Entertainer, October Record Reviews, 1995

The Bad Examples
Kisses 50¢
(Waterdog)

Ralph Covert's ability to craft engaging melodies and witty lyrics makes writing pop songs seem almost as easy as riding a bicycle. The lead vocalist/guitarist for Chicago's Bad Examples continues to impress on Kisses 50¢, the band's fourth independent release. New guitarist Steve Gerlach (formerly of Phantom Helmsmen, who has since left the Bad Examples to form his own band, MysteryDriver), along with bassist Pickles Piekarski and drummer Terry Wathen, provide Covert with consistent support.

Gerlach also shares lead vocals with Covert on "Me And My Near-Blind Hindsight," a rollicking acoustic tune that suggests the fun of an "Unplugged" TV special. The band experiments with funkier rhythms and honky-tonk blues to put across the bitter lyrics on "Beautiful Bonfire," and adds a lighter touch for the pretty psychedelic ballad "Shades of Grey."

The album's only rough spots result from the convoluted arrangements on longer songs like "Man Underwater" and "Trying To Prove The Earth Is Flat," where the shifting tempos never seem to gel. But those near-misses are forgivable considering the joys of "No Distractions," a sexy hard-hitting rocker, the energetic melody of "New Guitar," and the stylish blend of put-downs and pure pop on "The Mask Of Mona Lisa."

Contrary to their name, The Bad Examples are fine representatives of the ongoing tradition of Midwestern pop music. Kisses 50¢ is an offer that shouldn't go unaccepted.

-Terrence Flamm