Rose Tattoo – ‘Tatts: Live In Brunswick 1982’ (Golden Robot Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Thursday, 09 November 2017 04:20

Rose tattoo livein brunswick 300x300The early Eighties were an exciting time for me musically. At the tender age of 14/15 I had somehow managed to inveigle my way into the upper echelons of my high school intelligentsia and wangle access to the holy grail that was the “Sixth Form Centre”. It was only place on the campus that had a record player, and every lunchtime the race to get to that precious device and get your favoured latest release was more competitive than an Olympics final. From prog to punk, metal back to classic rock, it helped to open my ears to exciting new music… After having been raised on a diet of Elvis and the Everly Brothers, by the end of the final summer break before my Upper Sixth year I had grown my hair long and upon my return to school was incurring the wrath of my Ayatollah of a headmaster for doing so (he hadn’t counted on my biker dad backing me up!)…


Sometime in the intervening period – late 1981 – Rose Tattoo had paid a visit to Belfast. They were a band that weren’t on my radar at the time: and, at 15 years of age, even my liberal parents thought it was too young an age to be venturing into the big, bad city on my own (don’t forget, this was a time when Belfast still had soldiers patrolling the streets). It would be a full seven months before I could earn that privilege (a month after my 16th birthday, to see Blackfoot). However, some bright spark at the local BBC office thought it would be a good idea to record the gig in question and then show it (albeit late at night) a few months later… the subsequent broadcast affirmed my belief in the power of the message that bands such as they, Motorhead, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Venom were delivering to impressionable youths such as myself. To paraphrase the legendary WC Fields, they drove me to rock ‘n’ roll and I never got around to thanking them…


Around the same time that thon eejit at Auntie Beeb had persuaded his naïve bosses into broadcasting said gig, Rose Tattoo were back in their native Australia: having gone from playing venues as prestigious as the venerable old lady that is the Ulster Hall, they were back where they belonged: in the backstreet bars, brawling and bantering with hot, sweaty, leather-clad, likeminded hallions – such as this night, when they rocked up (by all accounts pissed out of their skulls) at Melbourne’s Bombay Bicycle Club for a show to be broadcast live on national radio… not that that mattered a damn to Angry, Pete, Rob, Geordie and Dallas at the time: they were Rose Tattoo and they were gonna play things just like they always did – straight down the middle, muthafuckas.


Given the time frame in which they co-existed, the Tatts inevitably drew comparisons to compatriots ‘DC – and such things were obvious: they both possessed an innate sense for the basic sensibilities of the rock ‘n’ roll genre – keep it simple and keep it on the beat – and they both knew how to party… and then some, by all accounts. But, that’s where the comparisons ended, ‘cos the Tatts knew how to do one thing that the ‘DC boys didn’t – and was to use a slide: yep, the late Pete Wells’ manipulation of one of those metal rings set he and his band ever so slightly apart from their contemporaries and gave them that little suvern boogie edge that helped them crossover the even then emerging sub genres which plague hard rock and heavy metal to this day.


Which brings us to this little re-issue – and, to be honest, not much really needs to be said about it… this is Rose Tattoo in their prime and doing what they did best: playing hot ‘n’ sweaty rock ‘n’f’n’ roll in hot ‘n’ sweaty rock ‘n’f’n’ roll to hot ‘n’ sweaty rock ‘n’f’n’ roll fans. The band had managed to get some time off the road to record a new album, ‘Scarred For Life’, and understandably five songs from that opus – ‘We Can’t Be Beaten’, ‘Texas’, ‘Branded’, ‘Juice On The Loose’ and the title track – were given a substantial airing on the night.



Although remastered for the technological advances of the intervening 35 years since this performance, ‘Tatts…’ has lost none of its energy, and if anything still manages to retain the feel of a bootleg, recorded with an old-fashioned Walkman held above the crowd in the way “fans” do with mobile ‘phones these days, especially in the roughness around the bass and drum sounds. The result is a perfect capturing in time of a truly authentic piece of rock ‘n’ roll history. The only downside, personally speaking, is the omission of ‘Nice Boys’ – but, hey, you can’t have everything… but we still have rock ‘n’ roll and, with a new album (featuring original AC/DC bassist Mark Evans) in the pipeline for 2018, we still have Rose Tattoo, and that’s all that matters right here and right now.


‘Tatts: Live In Brunswick 1982’ is out now.


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