Jules & the Polar Bears, “Bad for Business,” Columbia/Legacy. (***)
Speaking of “lost” albums, “Bad for Business” was recorded in 1980 as the third album under the Los Angeles band’s contract with Columbia Records.
Built around the songs of Jules Shear, the first two collections had established the group as a critical favorite. But sales were so slim that there was a lot of pressure from the label to come up with something more marketable.
The company didn’t think they got it in this album. “If it was the most imaginative record they made, it was also clearly the weirdest,” Steve Pond writes in the liner notes. “Columbia was looking for a commercial breakthrough from Jules, and they didn’t think this was it. Jules stood by his work and a stalemate ensued.”
The band soon broke up and the album went into the vaults. Now that it is finally being released, it’s hard to understand what the objection was. The album is an ambitious and enticing blend of the Eagles’ accessibility and Steely Dan distance.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).