Rose Tattoo – Blood Brothers (Steamhammer/SPV)
Within the first half-minute of Rose Tattoo‘s tenth album, vocalist Angry Anderson is already threatening to knock some teeth out. In other words, it’s another typical Rose Tattoo album, the Australian quartet that will be celebrating no less than thirty years of balls out, dental damaging rock this year.
One would expect a man who’s already a few years past 60 to take it easy and settle down after creating such a grimy catalog of pub rock memorabilia as his band has done. Apparently, Anderson and company have a few more things to bark about before closing the books on Sydney, Australia longest running best-kept secret.
Blood Brothers is fairly interchangeable with the rest of Rose Tattoo’s catalog: the band blends authentic dirty blues with a slice of English hard boogie with the same amount of passion that they did with their debut in 1978. It’s easy to figure that this authenticity has to do with the simple fact that they’re probably playing the same rough-hewn Australian pubs that they did thirty years ago. In other words, their ink is not a fashion statement used to build credibility or to display authenticity. Its honest graffiti from the wrong side of the tracks, permanent maps of each dive they’ve played and every badass they’ve shared a beer with. It’s probably for the best that they never got the same notoriety as their counterparts, because they probably wouldn’t have made it out alive. Popularity would have easily made Rose Tattoo soft, and when you get soft, you get passed by someone who wants it more than you do.
Beginning with Harry Vanda and George Young‘s 1974 Aussie hit “Black Eyed Bruiser,” the band comes full circle with their mid-70s pub roots and sounds just as vital. Vanda/Young were members of the iconic Australian rock band the Easybeats and had a hand in producing the first few AC/DC albums (George is, as a matter of fact, Malcolm and Angus Young‘s older brother). After noticing a group of rag-tag ruffians performing in the same club where AC/DC got their start, George signed the band to Vanda/Young’s production company and the rest is (forgotten) history.
Yes, Rose Tattoo had all the makings of being the second coming of AC/DC, but inner turmoil and lack of compromise put those hopes permanently on the back burner. I remember a friend gave me an account of the band performing in Burlington, Iowa once during the tour for the band’s Scarred For Life album. He explained how Angry Anderson started the show noticeably drunk, went back to the side of the amplifiers, vomited, and then returned to the microphone and performed the rest of the set like nothing ever happened.
I’m sure most of those decadent demons have passed over time, but the ink and the attitude are still in tact. Indeed, at the start of the last song (“Lubricated”), Anderson sounds impatient during the recording, barking at the drummer to “Hurry up and start the fucking thing!” The drummer obliges with a quick hi-hat count off and two and a half minutes later, the album is over.
Quick. Efficient. And heavy as ever.
Much of the fury within Blood Brothers seems the result of the loss of founding member Peter Wells. As a matter of fact, no less than four members of Rose Tattoo have passed away since the band’s inception, and with that much inner turmoil, it’s amazing that this project even got off the ground, let alone to sound so much like their earlier material.
If showing respect to fallen members was the motivation behind such honest reproduction, then those four hellraisers must be very proud of the honor. For the rest of us, sounding the same has never sounded as good as it does on Blood Brothers.
It’s an album that shows us that Rose Tattoo is still hard as ever and they have little worry of anyone passing them by anytime soon.
Video: Rose Tattoo – “Black Eyed Bruiser”
Video: Rose Tattoo “Man About Town”
2 thoughts on “Rose Tattoo – Blood Brothers”
I love Rose Tattoo from the start. Blood Brothers is defiantly a knock out CD. Wonder why this amazing group never came to the USA? They should tour from New York to California all across the USA so they can say (sing) “I’m a man about town”. Cheers!
I saw them in Atlanta,GA circa 1983 with Aerosmith and Pat Travers.