ROSE TATTOO: Rock’n’Roll Outlaws, Assault & Battery, Scarred for Life, and Southern Stars: CD

Nov 08, 2007

It's funny how even some of the greatest stuff can fall through the cracks, you know? I remember seeing Rock'n'Roll Outlaws, what I now know is their debut album, in a long-gone record store back in '82 or so, being intrigued by their bald singer, and then putting it back on the shelves 'cause the band name was too wimpy. Now that I finally get to hear what was on that album, not to mention the four that followed it, I realize I should've taken that puppy home with me. Rose Tattoo's debut is surely the missing link between punk and bar rock—part Ramones, part AC/DC and maybe a dash of a pissed-off Faces-era Rod Stewart in the vocals—and one of the finest albums to come out of the late ‘70s. This was one of those rare bands that managed to wrestle rock back from the overpaid pretty boys and give it back to the streets, a band that you'd best believe meant it when they sang "Nice boys don't play rock 'n' roll" and drove the point home by adding "I'm not a nice boy." This is the soundtrack for an ass-kicking both metaphorical and literal. This is what rock'n'roll was born to do, namely scare the shit outta you while getting you to move a little. The band followed up their stunner of a debut with Assault & Battery, which, while not as intense as its predecessor, packs a mean wallop behind another strong set of songs. From there on in, as with so many other bands, it's downhill, with each of the last two albums losing even more of that crucial raw edge and sliding ever closer into bad ‘80s rock land, although, to their credit, they're even good at that. Captain Oi has seen fit to reissue all four of the band's albums with extensive liner notes and the requisite bonus tracks. Much thanks is due to the Captain for giving me a new favorite band of the week, even if it took me twenty-two years to pay attention.

 –jimmy (Captain Oi)

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