Rose Tattoo's performance at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion for Live-to-air broadcast on the soon-to-be national broadcaster, 2JJ. The performance is some time in 1978, and clearly well before the release of their first album in November of that year, given the amount of covers (including a most obscene version of Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man"!) they play. This often circulates as being from 1976. An excellent, and I think unique, early Tatts soundboard show, there are a few pops and flashes of static, and the sound is not crystal clear, but it's a very good recording overall. A second of static/silence in track 3 has been eliminated by substituting the same notes from elsewhere in the song.
There seems to be an awful lot of good rock and roll that comes from Australia. Maybe a lot of it gets overlooked in the US because Australia is so far away and we just don’t hear about the bands that work for years but don’t get the big breaks like AC/DC or Silverchair.
Rose Tattoo is one of those bands that never really got that big break in America. They came out of Sydney, Australia, following in AC/DC’s footsteps. The Tatts officially got together in 1976, three years after AC/DC, and released their debut album in 1978, again, three years after AC/DC had led the way with their debut.
I mention the AC/DC connection for a couple of reasons: The bands’ histories are somewhat tied together in that AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd had played briefly in a band called Buster Brown with Rose Tattoo’s singer “Angry” Anderson. The Tatts also made their first public appearance at the rock club Chequers, where several years earlier AC/DC had kicked off their own career. As Rose Tattoo were getting started, they received a fair amount of support from their “older brothers” in AC/DC. Harry Vanda and George Young, who had also produced AC/DC, produced Rose Tattoo’s first four albums. And George Young is, of course, older brother to Malcolm and Angus Young.
In 1978, ACDC were huge in Australia and were just beginning to take off overseas. They were being handled by Alberts of Sydney, so with all the common gigs, it didn't take long for the Alberts producers to take an interest in Rose Tattoo. They came along to a gig one night, and within a week, Rose Tattoo had an offer to join the Alberts stable.
Angry was totally committed. He loved the lifestyle. He loved Rose Tattoo. He loved the boys club. As he says, it was a special time in the music industry. "In those days there was a real brothers in arms mentality. There was a real camaraderie. You know, members of Sherbert used to come and watch the Tatts. So did members of Ted Mulray Gang, John Paul Youngs band at the time, and other bands who seemingly had nothing in common with us. And vice versa. I've always loved Sherbert, but the reason I so publicly put shit on them in those days was because Angry Anderson, the frontman for Rose Tattoo, would not be expected to love Sherbert, where in truth, I loved pop music. Also, I liked Sherbert because I thought they were better than a lot of the other bands around at the time."Rose Tattoo cut their first single with "Bad Boy (for love)" on the A side, and "Snow Queen" on the B side. Almost as soon as the single was finished, lan Rilen decided to quit the band. That made an opening for Geordie, who'd been hanging around on and off since the band had first started. With Geordie, the boys recorded their first album...it was released under the name of "Rose Tattoo" in Australia, but overseas it had a more punchy title. The importers called it "Rock n' Roll Outlaws".
As soon as the album was out, Rose Tattoo hit the road. They spent the next year living literally out of a suitcase, touring the length and breadth of Australia. They played at just about every pub and club in every small town. They were a small-time band, so they still had to rough it with most things. "First we travelled in a kombi, then in a series of cars...later on when the band got more of a profile we hired cars and vans. I can remember, like so many other people in this country, doing trips to Melbourne where you'd pack the van or the truck so that there was three feet between the top of the stack and the roof where you could put mattresses and the band could sleep.
In the early days we only had one roadie, and Geordie and I used to do the rest. We enjoyed it because it was such physical work."They were very much a boys' drinking band. They were seen as brute macho, so they were recognised as blokes' territory. In all the early photographs, it's hard to spot a female face in the first few rows of the audience. There's just rows of men, reaching out to Angry, faces twisted with the noise, and the heat and the push from the crowd behind.
They started making big news. Towns geared up for their arrival weeks in advance. In many places having Rose Tattoo arrive in the main street was something like playing host to a freak show. Angry and the boys looked out of place enough in the city, but in some of the country towns, they stood out so severely they looked more like they came from another planet. Loyal fans turned up everywhere, and word travelled quickly about the sensation they were causing at live gigs.
The band went through good times and bad times. "We broke up and reformed all the time...we were irrational, taking lots of drugs, doing lots of booze, living on the road. We shuffled members, and we'd have a disagreement and walk out saying 'That's it', but two weeks later we'd be crying on each other's shoulder and looking forward to the next tour." (p97-98)
Just as the first album was climbing slowly up the charts, Rose Tattoo got a new manager. His name was Robbie Williams. He was a committed rock promoter, who had tremendous faith in the band. He believed wholeheartedly they could make it to number one worldwide. He had absolute confidence in Angry as a dynamic frontman, and he believed he had the talent and charisma to be the next big name in rock.
Once with the band, Robbie decided he was there for the long haul. Rose Tattoo weren't an easy band to manage. They were unreliable, irrational, and usually drunk, but he believed in the band, so he ended up staying until the very last gig years later.
The band's profile grew, and as they got bigger, Angry's stage antics got wilder. He became as extravagant and as outrageous as the crowd wanted him to be. They'd yell for blood, sweat and tears, and Angry would deliver. He was the tragic, drunken outlaw, the bad boy of rock and roll at his worst. No one knew what to make of him. He was dangerous, radical, and stupid. He had one trick on stage that shocked even the hardest fans. "When we wrote the album there's this song on it called 'Suicide City'. It's about Canberra because Mick told me that there was this article talking about how Canberra has the highest suicide rate of any Australian city.
He had another trick too, which was just as obscene. "At the end of 'Suicide City' it gets into a really crazy thing. It's supposed to be insanity, and I'd strangle myself with the microphone cord until I passed out."
This was the dark side, the madman. It was the side that frightened everyone, even Angry himself. Pete used to talk about it, saying there was something magic in the drama of rock and roll. He used to say, "You know you've made it as a rock performer when the crowd comes just to see whether or not you die." As Angry says now, there's no doubt that's why some of the fans were there. If it ever happened, they wanted to play their ghoulish part in history. And, the fact was, if there was an Australian rock star likely to go to those extremes on stage, Angry Anderson would surely have taken honours on top of the list. (p102-104)
This Bootleg post contains MP3 (192kps) sourced from the web many moons ago (thanks to the original uploader) along with full album artwork and all photos displayed above. This is truly a rare early recording of the Tatts when they were just starting out, and although the bitrate of the sound files are disappointing, the music is not and shouldn't be missed.
01. Astra Wally
02. Bad Boy For Love
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. You Really Got Me
05. Sweet Love
Only a 26 minute show but very rare radio broadcast at the time when founding member, bass player Ian Rilen was around
Rose Tattoo Link (40Mb)