Once upon a time, in an era when hairspray, spandex and limited musical ability were the pre-requisites to getting a record deal in L.A., there was a band called Bang Tango. Essentially a poor man’s Guns N’ Roses, the band were signed by MCA affiliate Mechanic and released a couple of albums worth of occasionally interesting Guns N’ Roses-influenced hard rock before drifting into indie-label obscurity once the majors latched onto the grunge phenomenon.
And that, you would have thought, would be the last anyone ever heard of Bang Tango and their raspy-voiced singer Joe Leste. However, more than a decade after his grating vocals first hit the airwaves, Leste’s back, fronting Beautiful Creatures — a band that sound nothing like Leste’s former group except that they play occasionally interesting Guns N’ Roses-influenced hard rock. What goes around comes around? You bet.
Such a Lazarus-style recovery by Leste is quite frankly, astonishing, and is even more surprising after listening to the band’s self-titled release, a rough and ready collection of uninspiring rockers, old school guitar licks and gravelly vocals. It is a record that attempts to merge the aggression, street sass and sound of the incomparable Appetite For Destruction with the modern leanings of the contemporary rock scene.
The fact that the album fails is not unexpected, but the fact that Beautiful Creatures have been given the chance to try, is. They may share the same A&R as Linkin Park, and Warner Bros. may have thrown huge amounts of money at the band, sending them out on the Ozzfest tour before this record was even released, but no matter how hard they try to sell them as something new and hip, the truth is they make even Buckcherry seem musically innovative.
Rehashing a staple diet of AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses, the songs on Beautiful Creatures will be nothing new to any self-respecting rock fan, who will have heard the predictable guitar solos on the likes of “New Orleans” a hundred times before. True enough, there’s plenty of effort and determination shown by the band on solid rockers like “1 AM” and “Kick Out”, and the dark and heavy “Step Back” at least manages to drag Beautiful Creatures’ sound literally kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but overall, there’s a distinct lack of originality throughout the album.
On the first single “Wasted”, Leste manages to sound more like Axl Rose than ever, especially when he repeatedly rasps “Take a shot you can never hurt me” during the mid section. That would have been acceptable ten years ago, but now even Axl Rose doesn’t sound like that anymore (well, that’s a moot point given the prolonged saga surrounding the new Guns N’ Roses album).
Lame ballads like “Time and Time Again” and “New Orleans” seem out of place with the general rock tone of the album, and make power ballads by bands like Warrant and Motley Crue seem contemporary.
The final clue to Beautiful Creatures’ clichéd ’80s rock roots is their press bio, which makes reference to shots of whiskey (no chaser), and describes the band as “. . . just dirty, sleazy, loud, rude, rock ‘n’ rollers, and that’s the real deal”. Unfortunately for Beautiful Creatures and Joe Leste, there aren’t many rock fans out there that value such clichés anymore. Not even those who remember Bang Tango.