The Tatts@

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HOME arrow BIO arrow 1977
1977

On stage, Rose Tattoo look like nothing on earth but Rose Tattoo.

They stand out from the mass of bands in satin pants like a raw steak in a vegetarian restaurant. All those words like raw, uncompromising, savage - they all apply, but they´re not enough. Rose Tattoo have something more than that.


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It´s not only the way they look, although that´s damn riventing. Four tall, gaunt men with unnaturally spikey red hair and the fifth out front stocky and furiously shaven headed aren´t an average sight, even in the realm of Rock´n´Roll excesses. Kohled eyes smeared with sweat, black t-shirts chewed off at the shoulder sticking to their wet torsos, pants that were probably once jeans now so worn-in they´re only hanging onto their wearers out of mutual admiration …. Even that´s not all. Rose Tattoo are really tattooed; they all had tattoos of their own design before they decided to seal the band´s fate with their intricate and oddly beautiful rose tattoos, all based on the theme of a rose and rock´n´roll. Each has an equally intricate ring permanently drawn on one finger, and a pierced ear ring as well.

The band gives an impression of overwhelming masculinity, a totally urban, night time jungle maleness that if considered objectively, would be awe inspiring, making an audience afraid rather than irresistibly drawn to go along with the band. It has something to do with having more than a hint of humor. You get the feeling that if some rich dame accosted them in twenty yards of mink they´d look at her straight in the false eyelashed and say: "What mug shot all the rabbits for ya?".

All this, and nothing about their music yet. The music is what makes the looks work. If Rose Tattoo looked like that and didn´t deliver, they´d be ridiculous. As it is, they do deliver; in spades.

Their rock´n´roll pedigrees are excellent. Slide guitarist Peter Wellls spent time with Buffalo, a band of hardnosed rockers who missed out by being both just after and before their time. Ian Rilan played his Mack truck bass with Band Of Light. Singer Angry Anderson of the shaven head spent years with Buster Brown, as did drummer Dallas "Digger" Royal;  the band was renowed for its maniacal intesity. Michael Cocks on second guitar is the youngest member, but in this context this youth means vitality rather that inexperience.

Together, they turn rose Tattoo into tough, hard driving, full on band that barely gives you time to breathe. Angry´s voice is a harsh roar capable of instant reversal into surprising sweetness. Ian Rilan´s bass and Digger´s drumming hurtle the sound along so fast and hard you expect to see steam rising from the bass. Sparks flying from the drumsticks. Michael Cocks guitar fills and runs are always more than just rhythm guitar; he provides the link in an already solid, complete three piece unit for Peter Wells to take off from, sending knife shrap slide slicing down your spine, creating that plummeting elevator sensation in your stomach. And Angry, standing with his legs spread wide, totally caught up, sings rage and fury in a voice like a clenched fist.

Rose Tattoo´s original material varies widely, from the realistic loving tang of "Sweet Rosetta" to the hard, life worn viciousness of "Astra Wally" and "Bad Boy for Love". They really shine covering the Stones´ "Streetfighter", sung a la Rose Tattoo: "What can a poor boy do `cept sing with Rose Tattoo". And it´s not just a bunch of nice middle class kids they´re convincing; Rose Tattoo have played in jails. The prisoners were impressed enough to ask them back; those guys aren´t going to take some naughty boy pose from a pack of phonies.

Rose Tattoo have a single together "Bad Boy for Love"/"Snow Queen" that´ll convince you better than any flat words on paper can. Rose Tattoo live will take you one higher - right out of your head.
 
 
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