Matt Kelly, Oceana magazine, Ocean City, Md.
Bad Sneakers, a band that has made tremendous commercial advancement since forming in 1980, is rapidly spreading to other regions beyond their Wilmington, Del., base. From their conception, it has been clear Bad Sneakers was not going to be content with bar-hopping. The first year the band was together, they released “Angeline,” a single that sold well and won awards in local publications from the readers.
Bad Sneakers is a culmination of 5 experienced musicians/songwriters who, between club playing and an extensive PR program, have managed to release 2 albums. The first, a 1982 release titled Sneak Attack, met with a positive response and sold out its first printing.
Sneak Attack seems to be a pent-up explosion on vinyl. All members contributed to this musical mish-mash, and Sneak Attack is as solid a sound for a young, local group as you will find.
The Sneaks have met 1984 with more media exposure than ever. They have hosted their own Christmas special, appeared on national television via the USA Networks Hot Spots and have received requests from all over the country for promo copies of their work. They are filling some of the better Delaware clubs and are expanding their touring radius from their home state Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey to include New York, New England and some of Canada.
The year has also witnessed the release of Bad Sneakers’ second album, Beat the Meter. To say the work shows improvement would be a use of drastic understatement. The sound has been streamlined and updated: They have come further in 2 years than many national groups advance in 5.
Beat the Meter has cut the band to 4 members, although the album is dedicated to former keyboard player, Ward Camp. In his place, all members have added synthesizers to the instrument they already play.
The live performance also shows a little innovation in that all band members use cordless instruments and headsets have replaced microphone stands.
Perhaps the most noticeable addition is the extensive use of electric drums played by Neal Tillotson. These drums, along with synthesizers, have improved Bad Sneakers’ comparison with .38 Special to comparison with the likes of the Eurythmics and Martha and the Muffins. There is good musical intelligence here.
The repetition that was bothersome on Sneak Attack is enjoyable on Beat the Meter. The first side of the album is a side of strong contemporary music with 5 out of 5 tunes being winners. Beat the Meter contains the group’s first recorded slow song. “All I Want to Know,” sung by guitarist Shane Faber. The rest of the band includes Dale Dallabrida on bass and Marc Moss on guitar.
Along with all members playing synthesizer, harmonizing is a strong point of BS. The group has included other touches of professionalism throughout the album. A live track, “Anesthesia,” is included. It is recorded well and performed at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. They must be doing something right.
Bad Sneakers have their own studio and are doing their own marketing. They are both musicians and businessmen. Their product is improving and some more gelling is sure to bring with it commensurate success.