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Thursday, July 03, 2008


I think what I value most in a Rock Band is an earnest delivery. It's the hardest thing to maintain. Failure breeds cynicism and success breeds ambivalence.

In the late 70's a band emerged out of Sydney, Australia by the name of Rose Tattoo. They weren't virtuosic technicians. They weren't fashionable, and they certainly weren't pretty. They were, however, earnest as shit.

Formed in 1976 by slide guitarist Pete Wells Rose Tattoo got in gear with the addition of Angry Anderson (throat) and Dallas 'Digger' Royal (drums).

Trying to make their way through the door that AC/DC kicked down, Rose Tattoo teamed up with the Vanda/Young production team that recorded AC/DC's first four albums, and in 1978 they unleashed a true masterpiece.


Precious few records come anywhere near the greatness of Rose Tattoo's self titled debut, but the American division of their record company remained unsold on the band until 1980, when the massive success of AC/DC prompted the label to give another Aussie Rock band a shot.

The record went nowhere in America, except into the hands of Duff McKeegan, Ron Keel, and yours truly. Rose Tattoo was a tough sell. As great as they were, and they were great, they were hard to classify. Not Metal, not Blues, and not Punk, but a potent blend of all three distilled ferociously into a lethal concoction.

Any song from 'Rose Tattoo' will destroy most anything in it's path, but I suggest downloading 'Nice Boys' to get you started. There will be no argument.

In 1981 the band put out 'Assault & Battery'. The sophomore curse finds the band unable to repeat the magic, but it does have it's share of commendable tracks, such as the 'Assault & Battery', 'Out of This Place', and 'All the Lessons'.


Rose Tattoo toured Europe in 1981, and then returned to Sydney to work on 1982's 'Scarred for Life'. Again, 'Scarred for Life' failed to measure up to the first record, but it was much more successful in terms of sales than both it's predecessors. 'Scarred For Life' is a much more focused record than 'Assault & Battery', and a much more polished record than 'Rose Tattoo'. Not that they went 'commercial', it's just a matter of better production probably as a result of a bigger budget. Hard Rock/Heavy Metal was very 'in' in 1982, and the push was on to break Rose Tattoo in America.

A big US tour followed supporting Aerosmith and ZZ Top. Considering both band's state of career in 1982, Rose Tattoo got screwed. The tour was dismal, and upon return to Australia, both guitar players and the drummer split.


Undaunted, Angry and Geordie Leach (bass) marched on and in 1984 the new Rose Tattoo released a total crap record, 'Southern Stars'.

To his credit, Angry Anderson never gave up, gave in, quit, ran, or succumbed. To his detriment none of his many incarnations of Rose Tattoo, or his solo ventures, managed to recapture the magic. Still at it, and most likely still angry, standing at under five feet, Mr. Anderson is a giant, and a true working class hero.

You may remember him as Tina Turner's major domo in 'Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome'.

Ah yes,nestled firmly between Rogue Male (First Visit) and Rough Cutt are Rose Tattoo's first two albums.I think I've got the lyrics to "The Butcher and Fast Eddie" permanently burned into my brain.Any track from side one of the first record is stellar.
The esteemed Hutch concurs, that sets it in stone.
Late comer to these guys, but couldn't agree more abou the first two discs. Those that don't imbibe just hate rock.
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