Monday, February 14, 2011

[Monday Music] -- BANG TANGO/Psycho Café

Psycho Café is the major-label debut for Bang Tango, a band that had been knocking about Los Angeles for a few years before getting picked up in the talent scoop crated by the success of bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Poison, and Def Leppard, when record companies finally figured out that there’s money to be made in metal.

Small problem for Bang Tango was that they weren’t as technical as Metallica, as sleazy as the Guns, as glam as Poison, or as infectious as Def Leppard during that bands first four records.

Don’t get me wrong, ‘Tango had chops and more than a modicum of talent, but they sort of tried to do everything all at once, and thus did noting overly well. That, combined with the fact that the longest running constant of the band to this day (vocalist/lyricist Joe Leste) is of limited talent at best, and this band really had nowhere to fall except between the cracks.

All this played out though, there are moments when things come together and heads begin to bob rhythmically…

"Attack of Life" opens the record with a moody bass intro before the rest of the band jumps in, followed by the aforementioned Mr. Leste yowling like a scalded cat. Even with some good musical moments, including two cool guitar solos that get inexplicably cut short, it's not a good way to start out.

The first single from the album, "Someone Like You", then gets things moving with opening pinch harmonics, before the rhythm section jump in and PROPEL the song in such a way that you can’t help but like it. Vocally, Joe actually hits most of his notes and his howling banshee scream actually FITS the song. Probably the best song on the album

What follows from there are two likeable numbers ("Wrap My Wings" and "Breaking Up A Heart Of Stone" (the second single)) that keep things moving in a good groove. Then the first derailment of three comes into the picture in the form of "Shotgun Man", which has a cool stereo panning effect guitar intro. Unfortunately, they use the alternating channels thing for the vocals during the verses of the song. In the middle of it is a nice guitar solo that seems like it’s trying to desperately get out of the very lame song.

"Don’t Stop Now" is a lyrical laugher, but it’s got enough bounce that you don’t care. I can’t really let you hear it in writing. You’ll have to take my word that it’s good, but for the lyrical badness, look no further than the chorus…

Get it up, get it out, push it up, spit it out
It goes on and on, and it don’t stop now…
Get it up, get it out, push it up, spit it out
It goes on and on, and it won’t slow down…

"Just For You" slows things down for the obligatory power ballad of the album. It’s trite, banal, and threes steps away from completely useless. It smacks of record company involvement. I mean, the rest of the record, even during its many bad spots, never slows down past mid-tempo. The song feels so out of place and tossed out that I have a hard time believing the band wanted it on the record.

Just to keep you informed, "Love Injection" and "Sweet Little Razor"… Yeah, they’re the other two derailments of “good” on this record. Musically, they have moments. The intro to Love Injection is TIGHT. Vocally… yeah… what that’s about not saying anything at all if it isn’t nice? Yeah… that.

"Do What You’re Told" is yet another musically-solid song that illustrates how the entire band is anchored downward by the vocalist.

That’s probably the most maddening thing about Psycho Café. Musically, it’s got a serious amount of appeal. The grooves are rock solid and the rhythm section plays their ASSES off. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, though, and our boy Joe ultimately weighed Bang Tango down to irrelevance. Shame…

GopherDave Grade: 5.8/10

Track Listing

01. Attack of Life
02. Someone Like You
03. Wrap My Wings
04. Breaking Up A Heart Of Stone
05. Shotgun Man
06. Don’t Stop Now
07. Love Injection
08. Just For You
09. Do What You’re Told
10. Sweet Little Razor

Lyrics Copyright © 1989 by Bang Tango Music/Windswept Pacific Entertainmnet Company d/b/a Full Keel Music Company (ASCAP). Used without permission, but without intent of infringement.

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