With the obvious exception of AC/DC, there is no other Australian rock n’ roll band held in such high esteem as Rose Tattoo. Almost mythical to some extent, the ‘Tatts are lauded from anyone old enough to remember their first trip around the block. One early memory would be legendary vocalist Angry Anderson headbutting amp stacks, guitarists, mic stands etc until his head started to bleed during a support slot in the early 80’s with Rainbow. Axl and his fellow Gunners also love them as Rose Tattoo normally support Guns N’ Roses when they tour down under. Anderson regularly joins them on stage for a blistering rendition of ‘Nice Boys’, a Rose Tattoo staple that GNR have covered for decades. Strangely enough, ‘Nice Boys’ isn’t featured on this warts and all live album from the 1982 archives.
After a few minutes of the band tuning up, ‘Out Of This Place’ – the opening track of 1981 album ‘Assault & Battery’ kicks off a debauched evening. Rose Tattoo might play the same bluesy, boogie infused hard rock that ‘DC played in their formative years, but they were never remotely anything like AC/DC copycats. The punk-like chants during the chorus sound like a band learning their craft the hard way on the notorious Australian pub-rock circuit. Then it’s straight into the slide-heavy strains of ‘Bad Boy For Love’ from the debut album. The drum sound from Digger Royall (none more Aussie?) pushes the band along into a Quo-like heads down boogie, but it’s the genius slide guitar from Pete Wells that sticks out. Anderson was at the top of his game during the early period of the band’s career, and his voice still has that just-gargled-with-listerine-laced-with-glass effect. ‘Assault & Battery’ is an incendiary mix of pulsating drum grooves and tasty slide guitar. A great deal of Rose Tattoo’s songs had a stellar narrative running through them, and this one is a perfect example. Same with the classic ‘Butcher And Fast Eddy’, a long time fan favourite, with it’s spoken word vocal style from Anderson and a nasty, sleazy vibe. Considering it was written way back in ‘78, it still sounds incredible decades later, and enhances the general consensus that Rose Tattoo were highly influential. Listen to the majestical groove on ‘Rock And Roll Outlaw’, or the riff-heavy vibe on ‘Scarred For Life’, and you’ll hear so many of today’s young bands in there. Rose Tattoo were the real deal, nothing fancy at all, and you did not want to mess with them. This is a timely reminder of the potency of a simple approach to music. It has to be done well, though. Many bands just simply go with a straightforward carbon copy of AC/DC. Rose Tattoo baulked at that idea, and the proof is here for all to hear.
Available November 24th on Golden Robot Records, pre-order here
Review: Dave Stott