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Monday, June 05, 2006

THE GREATEST ALBUM EVER MADE





The English language does not offer enough superlatives to hurl at this most perfect of records. Produced by the Vanda/Young team of early AC/DC note (also members of the Easybeats - 'Friday On My Mind'), Rose Tattoo's eponymous debut kicks the ass of every record known to man.

Rose Tattoo is the litmus test for hard rock fans. You can't be one if you've never heard of them, and if you actually own this or any of their first three records, you gain entry into an upper echelon of respect and credibility. If you bought this record in 1980 (or in 1978 if you are English or Australian) you then become, like me, part of an aristocracy of hard rock fandom, of which I am King, and of course, my word is law.

The album kicks off with the anthemic 'Rock and Roll Outlaw'. Singer Angry Anderson (the greatest rock moniker ever) tells us that he is a rock and roll outlaw, and that he's on the run.....

"All I want from livin' is just to be left alone
All I need is an open road, 'cause I'm a rollin' stone
All I need is a rock'n'roll band...somewhere new to play
And I'm on my way, I'm on my way"

Two and a half minutes later the band launches into the greatest song ever written, 'Nice Boys'. There is nothing on this planet more rock and roll that this song. The band blasts through this up tempo number with a ferocity rarely seen, whilst Angry tells a morality tale about rock and roll, women, and the ugly fate that can await those who play with fire.

"She hit town a rose in bloom
Smell the sweet, sweet perfume
The color faded and the petals died
Down in the city no one cried

And in the streets the garbage lies
Protected by a million flies
With roaches so big they got bones
They moved in and made themselves at home

I say nice boys...don't play rock'n'roll
Nice boys...don't play rock'n'roll
I'm not a nice boy!

Sweet sixteen she was fresh and clean
Wanted so bad to be part of the scene
She met the man and she did the smack
And now, she pays the price layin' down on her back

Want so bad just to please the boys
Ended up bein' just a toy
Played so hard burned her life away
Lies were told no promises made

Nice boys...don't play rock'n'roll
Nice boys...don't play rock'n'roll
I'm not a nice boy...and I never was

Young and fresh when she hit town
Hot for kicks just to get around
And now she lays in a filthy room
She kills the pain with a flick and a spoon

And in the streets the garbage lies
protected by a million flies
With roaches so big they got bones
They moved in and made themselves at home

Nice boys...don't play rock'n'roll
Nice boys...don't play rock'n'roll
Nice boys...don't play rock'n'roll
Nice boys...don't play rock'n'roll"

Now that the stage is set, the story unwinds. 'The Butcher and Fast Eddie' is a tale of right over might, of street justice, of good versus evil. Of course in this case good is slightly evil in it's own right. It's also a killer arrangement, with perfect bass and kick relation under a tight slow blues. Undeniable, and unbeatable. Perfection.

"They were so damn glad when I left school....." Angry spouts at the top of 'One Of The Boys', another anthem to the life of the gutter rat rock and roll outlaw that epitomizes the Rose Tattoo ethic.

"There's one thing I've learned
And I know it's so true
Bad girls love bad boys but
Good girls love 'em too"

And if there's any question as to why, a listen to 'Remedy' will fix you up on that account. Yes, Angry is a 'Bad Boy For Love', but he's 'Stuck On You' like a Rose Tattoo.

Certainly, life on the street is 'rough and mean'. Life, in general, is a 'gamble', and made even worse by television:

"You're tellin' me everything's alright
You know you tell such filthy lies
The common cold's got nothin' on you
You're a disease from which I die

You make love to my senses
Tryin' to win my heart
I ain't got no defenses...I'm beaten from the start

You insult my intelligence
While you pat me on the back
You give me something with one hand
While the other hand takes it back

You make love to my senses
Tryin' to win my heart
I ain't got no defenses no...got me beaten from the start, yeah

You cater to my fantasy
The web you weave is strong
You make it so hard seein' black from white
Tellin' right from wrong

You brainwash me senseless
Tearin' my brain apart
I ain't got no defenses...you got me beaten from the start, yeah

You got me beaten from the start
You got me beaten from the start"

This sordid world where a 'Tramp' meets 'Astra Wally', and together they find out what Jackson knows all to well; "It ain't funky baby...comin' down in jail."

Now THAT is rock and roll.

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