Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
If the past is another country then to many who never saw or lived through the bright lights and garnish of the 1980s, the pub rock scene of Australia must seem like a step into a completely different planet, one that was undoubtedly rich in expression, in its representation of a culture untouched by the excess and the absurdly gluttonous. The past may be another country but to those who saw a truth in the voice of bands such as Rose Tattoo, what they saw and heard during those punishment filled lyrics and chastisement to the pretence and pretentious, was worth living in the present for.
To capture that sense of raw magnetic hunger you have to understand the time, that the reality of the moment was not about what Hollywood sold the world, it was not all parties, champagne and weirdly obsessed shoulder pads and power dressing, it was very much one of hardship, discord and violence against the individual and the collective; people fighting for their very livelihoods and homes doesn’t make the so called sexy or fashionable film that sells.
For many who took to Rose Tattoo, they were a group who espoused the hardness of the times and the anger that was just about kept under control, hard won audiences fell for them, but they were perhaps a band that were fighting against the giant machine and never given the chance to espouse more radically outside of their native homeland; a great shame but one perhaps partially forgiven in their release of the live recording at Melbourne’s Bombay Bicycle Club in 1982, the brilliantly mastered Tatts: Live In Brunswick.
Arguably unrivalled in their forthright music, Rose Tattoo captured a feeling that only Midnight Oil could come close to and in which far outweighed the commercial stance of INXS. It is in the live arena, the sense of beer flowing, sweat dripping down the faces and the closeness of the crowd to the action that the album roars majestically in.
Each track is filled with passionate anger, with a sense of outraged truth, a timely reminder if any were required, that the 1980s were not one of the oncoming plastic features and high price paid by some to be seen as beautiful, rich band unpleasant.
In tracks such as Out of This Place, Assault and Battery, Butcher and Fast Eddy, Rock and Roll Is King, Juice on the Loose and One of The Boys, the menace, the matchless captivating threat of lyrical truth and affray is exciting, raw and boundless, a desire to relive that moment for many is too much of a pull and one that this album fully breathes.
Rose Tattoo release Tatts: Live In Brunswick on Golden Robot Records on November 24th.
Ian D. Hall