4 out of 5 Stars!
Way back in 1989, on a lark, I picked up Bad Habit’s full-length debut album, knowing virtually nothing about this Swedish band, but seeing the “big hair” on the cover, I expected perhaps some passable Hard Rock.
What I discovered, however—and to my pleasant surprise—was a group that delivered some solid and engaging Hard Rock/AOR music in a similar vein to my favorite acts in the genre, such as FM, Shy, Boulevard, Strangeways, Bad English, and Toto.
The singer, Bax Fehling, has an impressive range comparable to vocalists such as Fergie Fredericksen, Tony Mills, or Terry Brock, while the guitarist, Hal Johnston, delivers solos as impressive as Steve Lukather or Neal Schon. Lush and occasionally “pomp-sounding” keyboards, thanks to Doc Pat Shannon, feature heavily on many songs, while the memorable choruses on tracks such as “Play the Game,” “Rainbow,” “Rowena,” “Don’t Stop,” “Coming Home,” “Living on the Edge,” and “Winner Takes It All” are loaded with grand and rich background vocals.
About the only letdown I experienced when hearing After Hours is the band’s recording of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” which, although passable, comes shy of matching the sheer power of the original. Therefore, with the group obviously possessing fine songwriters in its midst, I’m unsure why Bad Habit decided to include just an “okay” version of a cover tune on its debut, especially when it’s not being offered with reworked instrumentation, or at a different tempo, or from an entirely new musical perspective, but remains basically a carbon copy of Boston’s version. So having this song close out After Hours is perhaps not a horribly misstep, but certainly a lost opportunity for the band to have included another of its original compositions.
Regardless, despite some personnel changes through the years, Bad Habit went on to produce five additional albums of the same high quality as After Hours, the last appearing in 2011. I’m unsure if the band is still in existence, but any of the group’s releases are deserving of inspection by fans of the genre.