By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
SLEEZE BEEZ – SCREWED BLUED & TATTOOED (1990)
Hailing from The Netherlands, Sleeze Beez released a debut album Look Like Hell in 1987 with a different singer. But for this 2nd album they recruited English singer Andrew Elt. It was a fortuitous decision on the band’s part because Screwed Blued & Tattooed is the band’s most recognizable release.
While it didn’t make them platinum superstars or anything, the relative success landed the band a slot opening for Skid Row on the touring cycle for this album and had a hit single with the song “Stranger Than Paradise”.
I had never listened to the band before now so I really had no familiarity with the material. I was kind of surprised to find it pretty enjoyable. Living up to the first half of their name, the band’s sound has a sleazy rock sound to it. A coworker that heard the album while I was listening to it said that the singer reminded him of Axl Rose. I don’t hear that myself but regardless, Elt’s vocals are usually pretty strong on the album.
The opening number, “Rock In The Western World” kicks things off in rousing rocking fashion. The lyrics are an ode to what would be considered the modern day lifestyle of rock stars back in 1990. Of course, the song resonates now because the lyrics can serve as a look back at time when they were actually true to the statement they make. It’s nice to have that kind of second life in a song written nearly 30 years ago I guess.
As for the rest of the first side of the album, it’s not bad at all. The previously mentioned “Strangers In Paradise” is a very strong track. While most of the songs are straight out rockers, on this particular track the band still rocks out but there’s more of a dark edgy feel to the song in the main lyrical verses. It made the song seem that much cooler.
At first, I was iffy on “Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t”, but the song ended up growing on me by the time it was over.
The first side was really good as it crackled with a rock and roll energy throughout. I wish that had carried over a bit more for side two of Screwed Blued & Tattooed though.
It opens with a weird little intro for “Heroes Die Young”. The song is a bit of anthemic rock done as an ode to those heroes from our collective past. This lyrical tact would normally be something I was completely into but this song just didn’t do it for me. And while I don’t typically have any kind of problem with a song like “Girls Girls, Nasty Nasty” the song was constructed in such a manner that there was just nothing worthy of listening to it again.
Missing from the first side of the album was any kind of ballad track. If that had continued on side two it might’ve been a good move. But as was the custom of the time, Sleeze Beez put “This Time” on the album. While the music establishes a moody atmosphere, the song is, at best, mediocre claptrap.
It wasn’t all bad though, because I loved a couple of songs on the second side. “When The Brains Go To The Balls” might lack any sense of subtlety but it is actually a invigorating rocker. The chorus does get buried a bit in the mixing but doesn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the song that much
As for “Don’t Talk About Roses”, I first thought it was going to be another ballad when I saw the title on the album booklet. Therefore, I was pretty happy to find that it was a pure rocker that got me tapping my foot to the rhythm. I would say that it is my favorite song on the album and I can’t wait to listen to it over and over again.
While Screwed Blued & Tattooed might not have made the band into global rock stars, it remains their most successful release. There was some cutting room floor material that made it onto the album but for the stuff that really shined, Sleeze Beez sure found a nice solid groove to slide into at the tail end of “The Metal Years”.
NOTE OF INTEREST: The band released a total of four studio albums and a live album before splitting up in 1996. They got back together in 2010 for two reunion shows and released the live album Screwed Live! In 2017, the band were interviewed by Limelight Magazine to celebrate their 30th anniversary. (Click HERE to read this story.) Singer Andrew Elt is now fronting the band 7 Miles to Pittsburgh whose debut made Limelight Magazine’s top 10 albums of 2017. They recently released their second studio album earlier this month.