The Bad Roads

Rock 'N Bowl

October 01, 2004

Now I know where Frank Black got it from. On Black’s album, “Black Letter Days,” he espoused a dark, coal-chugging mutation of surf guitar. I made the connection between this sound and garage rock when I heard The Bad Roads at Rock ‘N Bowl Friday night. The band was part of the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau’s garage-rock showcase. I remember critics saying Black was going for a Stones sound, and The Bad Roads covered The Rolling Stones at least four times(“Paint It Black” was a set highlight), so it makes sense. The band played a number of originals, but they mainly peppered their set with covers such as “Route 66.”

The Bad Roads were known as the bad boys of rock in Lake Charles and the surrounding region when they were popular in the late ‘60’s. Their big hits were “Blue Girl” and “Too Bad,” a song that I thoroughly enjoyed Friday night(“Too bad/You’re sad/I’m glad”). The band played a number of love songs, but I was attracted to them because they displayed a darker side of love with their snarl and aggressive solos. A sunnier side was their impressive cover of The Kinks’ “Till The End of the Day.” Near the end of the set, Bo Diddley harmonica man Billy Boy Arnold joined the band for a cover of Diddley’s “I’m a Man.” This was a real treat, and it was funny to see the lead singer mugging for shots with Arnold as the song was going.

The band was tight, and the lead singer’s passionate voice kept the set from sounding like an old band horribly re-hashing their glory days. The opposite was true. They could beat out a lot of new rock bands. Their blazing solos would make sure of that. They should go on tour. I have a feeling that if I was a teenager in the ‘60’s, the Bad Roads would have been my band.


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