Rockbrat Remembers: The Wild Colonial Boys (1988) Angry Anderson, Mick Cocks, Marc Hunter, Sharon O’ Neil.

Posted: November 18, 2010 by Cowboy Col in Rockbrat Remembers:
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Here is a post about a chapter of Australian rock n roll that you may not know about. In 1988, (with both Rose Tattoo and Heaven just a memory) guitarist Mick Cocks was playing around the traps in Sydney with the Headhunters, which was Dave Tice of Buffalo’s band. Cocks put together a short lived supergroup called The Wild Colonial Boys for a series of live dates. The band featured Cocks on lead guitar, Alan Mansfield of Dragon on keyboards, Mark Meyer of Richard Clapton Band, Ian Lees of Moving Pictures (and Chasin The Train) on bass, and even a member of Little Feat. The high light though were the three vocalists –  Sharon O ‘ Neill, Marc Hunter and Angry Anderson. Some pedigree. The band played a set comprising some r ‘n’ b classics, some early 70’s swagger and mixed with a bunch of rocking soul standards. The result ? High energy rock n roll. It’s a pity that they never recorded anything ‘cos live, this band simply cooked. The term Wild Colonial Boy goes back to Australia’s formative years. The original definition  of Wild Colonial Boys was  about Jack Donahue, an Irish rebel who became a convict, then a bushranger, and who was eventually shot down by police. Many bushrangers were of convict ancestry and were also called Wild Colonial Boys. These guys were the original outlaws, or if you are in the US, call them highwaymen. The theme was continued further with a spin on Sergio Leone’s eternal spaghetti western imagery by calling the band, ‘The Good, The Bad and The Angry’, with O’ Neil being the ‘good’ and Hunter being ‘the Bad’.  A nice concept.  I was fortunate enough to see the band a couple of times, and clearly remember seeing them at Dee Why Hotel on Sydney’s northern beaches in July, 1988. Here’s a bit of a show review from that night. The set kicked off with Angry tackling the lead vocals on The Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’, followed by the blistering white soul of Steve Winwood’s ‘I’m A man’, which simply cooked. Angry always had a great voice for singing soul. The beer flowed freely, as it often did in these suburban venues. The place was packed, and the punters wanted to party. Angry reminded the crowd to “Leave Noiseworks for the suburbs and the little girls. Tonight is about real rock n roll.”  He then introduced Sharon O Neil  to the stage, described her as “the most perfectly proportioned female I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.” She launched into a ballsy version of the Eagles ‘Heartache Tonight’ followed by the Stones ‘Tumbling Dice’. Man. Sharon O Neil was always great to see live. I remember seeing her at an outdoor gig at the Raiders spiritual home Seiffert Oval back in 1987. I think Rockbrat has some photos of that show somewhere, and  I last remember seeing her in 1991 on a Thursday night at Feathers, Crows Nest.  Cocksy did all the solos this night, tasty and distinct as always. Enter Marc Hunter. Two songs from ‘the perennial prince of perversion himself’, as Angry referred to him. He opened with the classic soul of Jimmy Reed’s ‘Shame Shame Shame’ and then led an enthusiastic and responsive crowd through a killer version of ‘Roadhouse Blues’ that would have bought a smile to the face of the lizard king. With a raspy voice that was always compared favorably to Rod the Mod, Angry delivered a very authentic version of ‘Maggie May’, augmented very nicely by some Alan Mansfield keyboard. The band looked like they were having fun, the crowd certainly were. Angry lead the band through another hard rockin’ soul classic, Ray Charles’ What’d I Say’, which simply smoked. O Neil autentically tackled Linda Rondstadt’s It’s So Easy To Fall In Love’ before launching into Stevie Nicks’ ‘Stop Draggin My Heart Around’. This was indeed one of the nights highlights, as in some people opionion, Sharon O’Neil was the Stevie Nicks equivilent in this part of the world (Australia and NZ). The song segueyed nicely into her signature tune, ‘Maxine’. The last three songs of the nights were the Tatts ‘Bad Boy For Love, Sharon O Neil’s hard rockin ‘Physical Favours’ before the night ended with Dragons’ ‘April Sun In Cuba’. A great night, great memories. Dedicated to Mick Cocks and Marc Hunter.  

I recorded this particular gig with my trusty tape recorder, and now you too transport yourself back to the 29th July, 1988 and experience the Wild Colonial Boys. Sheesh, 22 years ago now. This is the band recorded at the Dee Why Hotel on Sydney’s northern beaches as they blaze through ‘Roadhouse Blues’. This song has Marc Hunter on vocals, and I just love the guitar solo because it sounds so distinctly like Mick Cocks. After the solo Marc Hunter says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mick Cocks.” Never heard anywhere before, a Rockbrat exclusive. Check it out here.

 You can also check out a Mick Cocks interview from 1988 that talks about the Wild Colonial Boys project here

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