I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Beau Nasty—Dirty, but Well Dressed (WTG/CBS, 1989)
The year was 1989, and the Hair Metal craze was rapidly approaching critical mass. As multi-million selling success stories like Poison, Warrant, and Cinderella continued to take their bombastic blend of Aqua-Net and Marshall amplification to the bank, A&R scouts at record labels large and small pounded their fists on their desks and cried out in unison, "Dammit, we need one of those bands, too!"
The Rise and Fall of Hair Metal
This gave rise to The Great L.A. Hair Metal Signing Binge, when it seemed like a new set of big-haired second-stringers was plucked from Sunset Strip obscurity and signed to a major record label every other day. The Binge was, of course, immediately followed about a year later by the Great L.A. Hair Metal Glut, when the debut albums by all of those dozens of newly inked bands flooded the marketplace at the same time. These saturation bombing tactics meant that only a few of these bands connected with an audience that was getting burned out on the whole hair-metal fad anyway.
Therefore, a ton of bands got caught in the crossfire when the next big "wave" (hell-ooooooo, Nirvana!) came along and the majors all dumped their stock in hair metal. From the 1990s onward, used-CD stores (and later, auction sites like eBay) became cemeteries littered with the carcasses of such non-success stories as Salty Dog, JetBoy, Keel, Babylon A.D., Southgang, Pretty Boy Floyd, Hericane Alice, Bang Tango, Tora Tora, Spread Eagle, Sweet F.A., and many more . . .
Beau Nasty's Minor Classic
. . . which brings us to today's Forgotten Hard Rock album: Dirty, but Well Dressed, the first (and last) disc by the ultra obscurity known as Beau Nasty. Though it was utterly ignored upon its original release, this album has slowly been attaining a rep as a minor classic among hair metal aficionados over the years. A quick check of eBay reveals that a copy of this CD will run you about thirty bucks, so naturally I cackled slightly when I came across one in near-mint condition in a thrift store for the irresistible price of one thin dollar.
So Who the Hell Was Beau Nasty, Anyway?
Finding info on Beau Nasty's backstory was a frustrating task. They were supposedly L.A.-based, but since they featured a couple of upstate New Yorkers and a Canadian in their ranks, I suspect that they were a "manufactured" act put together by a manager or a label rather than an actual "band."
Formation and Production
Formed in 1988, Beau Nasty was immediately snapped up by CBS Records imprint WTG, where they were label mates with the likes of Motorhead and Bonham. Beau Nasty's drummer Mike Terrana and guitarist George Bernhardt had previously worked together in the Canadian hard rock act Hanover Fist, whilst vocalist Mark Anthony Fretz had prior associations with a band called Zillion.
WTG put the quintet into the studio with then-hot melodic rock uber-producer Beau Hill (fresh off of his multi-platinum work with Ratt and Warrant) and Paul Winger (big brother of Kip Winger) to create an album's worth of catchy, radio-ready tunes with air-guitar-worthy riffing and an ultra-polished production job so slick and cheesy it should've come topped with pepperoni and mushrooms.
Dirty Releases With a Whimper
Dirty, but Well Dressed was released the following year . . . and, by all accounts, it made absolutely no impact whatsoever on MTV, on the Billboard charts, or in the hearts and minds of rock audiences. After a couple of low-profile tours opening for lower-rung acts like Loverboy and Love/Hate, Beau Nasty quietly dissolved as the 1990s dawned.
Given the musical climate at the time, multi platinum status should've been a given for Beau Nasty . . . but obviously, it never happened. So what went wrong?
About the Album
I'm reasonably sure that the ridiculous album cover to Dirty, but Well Dressed did Beau Nasty no favors with record buyers. Perhaps they were trying to out-do the "waist-coats and frilly cuffs" look that fellow hair metallers Britny Fox were sportin' at the time, but DBWD's unintentionally hilarious Renaissance-inspired illustration of the band in a throne room, decked out in full-on Henry VIII style gear—complete with capes and feathered caps!—looks like the band is about to break into the theme from Robin Hood, Men In Tights.
The band photo on the back cover shows the boys wearing more traditional "street level" rocker-dude outfits, so I guess that the Ren-Faire duds were NOT part of their actual onstage attire. Too bad, because that might've actually helped them stand out from the pack (haha).
Dirty, but Well Dressed kicks off with "Shake It"—which was the lead off single/MTV video and apparently the original title of the album as well (promotional copies of the disc exist with that title). It's a decent hard rock anthem, based around a chugging guitar riff that's ready-made for strip club rotation. Frentz's snarly vocals remind me of Mark Slaughter of Vinnie Vincent Invasion/Slaughter fame to a degree, though thankfully Frentz's high notes are nowhere near as irritating/antagonizing as Mark's.
Read More From Spinditty
"Goodbye Rosie" and "Gimme Lovin'"
"Goodbye Rosie" and "Gimme Lovin'" keep the sleaze factor high and reveal that, lyrically, this band is about as deep as a kid's wading pool.
"Paradise in the Sand" and "Dirty, but Well-Dressed"
"Paradise in the Sand" slows things down a bit for a heartwarming tale of a guy 'n' gal getting busy on a deserted beach (hey, I told you they were deep), and the title track is another bluesy, high-energy rocker.
"Love to the Bone," "Gemini," and "Piece of the Action"
Things falter slightly in the album's second half, as the painfully silly "Love to the Bone" (say what?), "Gemini," and "Piece of the Action" (how many hair bands have a song by that title?) all meld together into a long, uber-slick mashup of generic hard rock riffing, sound alike choruses and canned "ahhh-ahhhh-ahhhh" backing vocals.
"Love Potion #9"
It sounds OK while the album is playing, but you'll be hard pressed to remember a lyric or hum a guitar lick by the time the album ends with a cover of the Leiber & Stoller chestnut "Love Potion #9"...yes, seriously. I know cover tunes were all the rage in hair metal circles at the time but I've always hated that song, and this rock-out-with-yer-weenie-out version didn't do anything to change my opinion.
Good First Half, Weak Second Half
If Beau Nasty had been able to maintain the firepower of the album's first half, perhaps Dirty, but Well Dressed would've gained more traction in the crowded late '80s cock-rock scene. Otherwise, listeners are better off skipping the last five tracks and treating this disc as a five-song EP.
Where Are They Now?
After Beau Nasty split, Guitarist Brian Young worked with melodic rockers Talisman and later resurfaced briefly as a member of Van Halen front man David Lee Roth's solo band. George Bernhardt played with the likes of Jeff Scott Soto and Rick Springfield, while drummer Mike Terrana relocated to Germany, where he became one of the most in-demand session players in that country's hard rock/metal scene.
Terrana's probably best known for his multi-album stint with German power metallers Rage (who freakin' rule), and he has also appeared on releases by Masterplan, Axel Rudi Pell, Metalium, Savage Circus, Tarja Turunen, and Yngwie Malmsteen, to name just a few.
Should You Buy DBWD?
Dirty, but Well Dressed is a decent enough pickup if you can find it cheap, like I did . . . but I would resist the urge to pay crazy eBay prices for it unless you simply have to own a copy of every single hair-metal CD that was ever released on a major label.
© 2014 Keith Abt
Dangerous Dan on December 05, 2017:
Perhaps the name is cursed?
I've always liked that story, though It's highly unlikely to be true. I found it interesting that the name was an homage to someone who litterally, died in the gutter. Ultimately however; niether Beau Nasty the man, nor the band that bore his name, would be long-lived or remembered. There's almost an irony in that, one died in an alley, whereas, the other died a few miles away in a discount bin. And then, just like that, Gutter-Glam died of Nirvana. The circle of death. May they all rest in peace.
Keep on rockin' in the free world.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on December 05, 2017:
Hey D.D. -- that's.a great story but I agree with you, I dont buy it for a minute! Haha
Dangerous Dan on December 05, 2017:
Here's a little-known fact (or myth) regarding the origin of the band's name. Allegedly, the name Beau Nasty was tattooed on the body of a deceased vagrant, which the (at that time unnamed) band accidentally discovered in an alley.
However; that sounds way too dark, edgy, sleazy and Sunset Strippy to be true. Some A&R guy at the record company probably came up with that.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on November 07, 2017:
Hi Toby... I agree, $60 is a bit much... it's a good CD, but not THAT good, haha!
Toby on November 07, 2017:
I had bought the only copy of the "Dirty but Well Dressed" cassette at Newbury Comics in Boston back in 1989...as a fan of the hair bands...it wasn't half bad. Just remembered them, out of the blue....and Amazon is currently at a $60 bid for their CD...I'd love to be able to put a couple songs from this in my iTunes account but...wont pay $60 for the CD...didn't like it that much! LOL...thanks for the review and the blast from the past!
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 21, 2017:
Hi Danny - thanks for your story! Cool that you were one of the apparent few who saw this short lived band live, haha.
Danny Clark on August 21, 2017:
Hey Keith, I saw Beau Nasty back in the day I believe it was at Hammer Jacks. The place was packed until the 3rd song. The concert hall emptied like it was a fire drill lol. The singer was horrible couldn't pull his parts off live, at least not on that night. Everyone talked about how bad he was. If that night was any indication as to what the rest of their shows were like I'd say thats why they didn't make it over.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 14, 2015:
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on December 13, 2014:
I still have a bunch of old Metal Edge mags (as well as Circus, Metal Maniacs, Metal Hammer, and many others) stashed away in the closet... a lot of good memories in there! :)
Beth Perry from Tennesee on December 13, 2014:
Ooh, Metal Edge. I used to love that mag!
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on December 12, 2014:
Hi Beth - Beau Nasty were one of those "if you blinked, you missed'em" bands...haha. Till I found this CD earlier this year, the only reason I had even heard of 'em was cuz I had an old issue of "Metal Edge" magazine which had an advertisement for their album in it....
Beth Perry from Tennesee on December 12, 2014:
I did not know about Beau Nasty (and here I thought I knew all the 80's heavy metal bands!) I rather like that cover, and your review of the music intrigues me enough to look for it. Thanks for posting.
btw, I remember Talisman. They were pretty good!
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on December 12, 2014:
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 21, 2014:
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on May 21, 2014:
Some very strange looking album covers here which take me back.....back to a time before back to the future I suppose. The hair! The pants! Totally nuts. Voted awesome and liked!
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 14, 2014:
CJ Baker from Parts Unknown on May 13, 2014:
Enjoyable read, I always enjoy reading your hubs concerning forgotten hard rock albums. This is a band that I never heard of, and I always like learning about obscure music.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 13, 2014:
Hi Hackslap...yep, there were just way too damn many hair bands, haha. Typical major-label procedure, find something that works and then run it into the ground, haha! In Beau Nasty's case, I think they were a decent band but they were just a little too generic to survive...
Harry from Sydney, Australia on May 13, 2014:
Good review...the vocalist sounds like the guy from Britny Fox.. .I'm in doubt there're so many hair bands nobody has heard of even remembers considering glam really went crazy even by mainstream standards b/w '88 and '92 ..