Posts Tagged ‘Mick Cocks’

wells_iafWells has worked tirelessly to earn the position he now holds as one of Australia’s premier bluesman, with minimal industry and public support. Yet for overseas readers, you don’t land support slots with Dylan, Marianne Faithfull, Robert Cray or The Stray Cats (to name a few) if you ain’t the genuine article, and Wells is definitely that and then some. This is the latest effort from the original rock n roll outlaw, and sees Wells sticking to the well worn booze n blues boogie formula he practically invented all those years ago. Pete Wells-rock n roll has always maintained broad blues appeal, yet at the same time never forsaken fans more familiar with his heavier work with Rose Tattoo. The tunes representative on this CD should again satisfy both parties. A generous 19 tracker with highlights aplenty. The mess o blues of ‘Can’t Stand Up’, or the Chuck Berry approved ‘Sideshow Blues’ agreed with me, as did a reworked romp through ‘Taking The Pain Away’, heavy on the slide with that always likeable piano accompaniment. The Tatts like ‘Born To Lose’ (no not the Heartbreakers classic) is typical Wells boogie and the choice cut for mine, but hey, Wellsy could release an album of Spice Girls covers and it would still sound fucking great to me. Choice covers include ‘Don’t Lie To Me’, ‘Nadine’, and even a Keef approved romp thru ‘Get Off My Cloud’. If that’s not enough you get some live numbers as well which feature his Tatts accomplice Mick Cocks on guitar. Along with Lobby Loyde, the most influential Oz guitar player alive.

(Archive Source: Cat Scratch Fever/Vicious Kitten Records Newsletter Issue 1: May 1999)

Three days out from Christmas and the majority of Australians are swept up with Christmas- bullshit frenzy. But the 22nd of December is an important date on our calendar as we remember Mick
Cocks – who sadly left thIs world thtee years ago today.
Today is not a day for sadness… it is a day to look back and smile. We will crack open a beer and loudly play 1981’s Assault and Battery all day. After all these years I can still hear things on that record which I marvel at and it would blow most modern rock n roll out if the water. Cocksy was a vital cog in the Rosie Tatts machine. I am fortunate I got to see him play live at many Sydney venues over the years. Memories to cherish. Mick Cocks personified rock n roll and is never to be forgotten.

Mick Cocks in 1988

For a long time there, particularly during the late 80s and early 90’s, Michael Thomas Cocks looked ageless, like he’d been drinking heartily from the fountain of youth. Yet he we are, the 22nd of December, 2010 and Cocksy has been gone for a year already. Sure there was benefit concert for him in July, 2009 at the Enmore whilst he was still alive, but one year after his death, with no sign of any tribute gig  – spare a thought for Mick, one of rock’s finest. Since his death, Murray Engleheart’s excellent book  ‘Blood Sweat & Beers’ has been released, and that book certainly pays tribute to the man and his music – and it will hopefully serve as a long standing reference for kids to go read and discover the guy who really wrote the blue print for Guns ‘n’ Roses and all those other wannabes. Cocks was the real deal – fact.  His ‘stutter gun’ method of right hand playing gave him an original sound and style that heavily influenced bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses, who despite all their bravado, never even came close (although apparently they did ask Cocks to replace Izzy Stradlin). If you wanna hear what I’m talking about with the term ‘stutter gun’, go listen to the riffing in ‘Nice Boys’ or ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw’ or better yet, ‘Manzil Madness’. I never saw him with Heaven, although I do have a couple of bootlegs from shows in LA they did in 84 when they were based there. As a rock disciple and a student of rock history, I knew how significant a band the Tatts were, so when I saw a lot of Cocksy playing around the traps in Sydney in the late 80’s I lapped it all up. To see Cocksy and Wellsy playing together in Heart Attack was indeed something special.  Many venues, many dates – most of which escape me. He was great with the Headhunters, he was great with the Wild Colonial Boys (click here to read a review of the Wild Colonial Boys and hear a Mick Cocks guitar solo from 1988). In 93 I saw a bunch of the reformed Tatts shows and Mick was great, as you’d expect.  I even saw him in 1992 in Canberra playing rhythm guitar with TMG and a few Tatts shows in 98.  I never saw him in Doomfoxx but I have their album and its killer. Even after seeing him live all those times I never once bothered to get a photo with him, or to get him to sign something, cos I thought that these guys would last forever and would always be around. I do remember chatting to him at the Gladesville Hotel in 1990 though where I saw him lead a version of Heart Attack minus Pete Wells. (I think I have that show on cassette somewhere). Mick was only 54 when he died. Far too young, and like many others, I will always remember him fondly.

Heart Attack 1990 (Mick Strutt, Pete Wells, Lucy De Soto, Paul Demarco, Mick Cocks)

And you know something? If you look skyward and you hear a thunderous sound emanating from the heavens, fear not. It’s just the house band – Digger Royal on drums, Ian Rilen on bass, Wellsy and Cocksy on guitars, and Thorpie out front – playing loud, very very loud. If you listen real close, you can still hear that ‘stutter gun’ blazing away. RIP Mick Cocks. Never forgotten.

Check out a Mick Cocks interview from 1988 that talks about the Wild Colonial Boys project here.

Wells, Cocks and Anderson showing 'em how it's done

Who: Rose Tattoo
Where: Wagga, NSW Australia  – 22 January 1993

I’ve written about the 1993 Rosie Tatts reformation elsewhere on this blog so will not repeat myself. This was one of my favorite images I shot of the Tatts over the years. I can actually re-call walking past a venue in Adelaide in December of 1992 and spotted an upcoming gig poster for Rose Tattoo. Was the Rockbrat’s eyes playing tricks ? I mean, Wellsy and Angry both had solo careers and Angry had even once told the Cowboy on national radio – that there’d never be a re-union !! But here was the proof right in front of me. Straight away I made some calls and yes, a re-union was on featuring Geordie on bass and Fred Zeppelin (Paul DeMarco) on the stool – along with Anderson, Wells and Cocks of course. First show was to be held in the country NSW town of Wagga of all places. It was at a nightclub – straight outta 1975 – called The Copacabana. The evening was baking hot and by the time the boys hit the stage the mercury only rose higher. It was a great show – a warm up to the band’s upcoming Guns n Roses outdoor shows, where Wells and the boys – put simply – showed em how it was done. The Rockbrat ears have been subjected to some loud volume over the years – eg Kiss, Maiden, Metallica, Thorpie – even Manowar – but on this particular night Rose Tattoo were ungodly loud. The boys really were back in town…

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

The much missed Pete Wells and Mick Cocks

Who: Peter Wells  When: Britannia Hotel, Sydney, April 23, 1995

The venue for tonight’s gig is the Britannia Hotel in South Sydney, in recent times proving itself to be one of Sydney’s better blues / country pubs. Despite it being a Sunday night, plenty of punters have dragged themselves out of TV land and prove to be quite a receptive crowd. It has to be remembered that essentially Rose Tattoo played heavy blues. Gut wrenching rock n roll, but blues none the less. The 1995 version of Peter Wells follows a similar script, although nowadays he’s playing blues / hard rock of the highest calibre. assembled before us tonight are Peter Wells on slide guitar and lead vocals, Lucy De Soto on keyboards and vocals, Mick Cocks on rhythm guitar, Chris Turner on bass and Paul Demarco (aka Fred Zepplin) on drums. Quite simply, Peter Wells is one of the best bluesmen this country has to offer. His guitar playing is so unique and original, that he is unrivalled. He is a show all on his own. His imposing presence on a stage is a sight to behold. THE original six foot illustrated man towering down on you captures your attention, and sucks you in, but it’s the music which blows you away and keeps you coming back for more. 
The set opener is the aptly titled ‘Where It All Begins’, a straight down the line hard rock boogie tune, chock full of blistering slide guitar from the man who plays it best. Lucy De Soto’s golden tones compliment Wells’ harsh gravel like vocals superbly, and if this is where it all begins, then the crowd are in for one helluva shindig here tonight ! The band shuffles through on ‘Jungle’, and then slides comfortably into ‘Between The Saddle And The Ground’ from the ‘Everything You Like Tries To Kill You’ album, released back in 1990. This song is a classic. Catchy riff, catchy chorus and always a crowd pleaser, as was once again proven here tonight. ‘Crisis Point Casino’ is a highlight. recently lifted as the first single off the new album ‘Orphans’, it represents the stunning quality of Wells’ song writing. A hard hitting up beat song which tells the tale of love gone wrong, it drips of Wells’ distinctive slide, yet it’s the eerie sounding keyboards that wash over the vocals which make the song stand out. definite hit single material here, and at the time of going to press this single was at number 39 with a bullet in Switzerland ! Wells delivers one great song after another. ‘No Hard Feelings’ and ‘Nothing Wrong With Money’ are both delivered with ferocious intensity. Rockin’ good numbers you just can’t help but tap your foot or nod your head to the captivating beat. And then it happened. The band found another gear. Man, Lucy De Soto really sings her heart out on ‘No Second Chances’. This girl CAN sing ! Her delightful yet powerful vocals leave me gasping for air like a fish out of water, and then Wells delivers the knockout blow, ‘Rock n Roll Outlaw’. Who else can play it better then the two Tatts axemen ? The illustrious Mick Cocks really comes into his own now, and shares the spotlight with his tattooed brother. This song is still killer and tonight it is executed with all the brutality of an angry wild boar. ‘Let’s Do It All Again’ finishes the set, and as i make my way to the back of the bar I’m content in the knowledge that rock n roll of such good quality is still alive. If only more people could hear it.  There is a lot to like about Peter Wells rock n roll. He kinda reminds me of Keith Richards or Ron Wood in a lot of ways. The genuine article, 100% quality. No cheap imitation here tonight either. If you are a blues, hard rock, or country music fan, you’re definitely going to find something you like about Peter Wells live. THE original rock n roll outlaw is back and ‘Orphans’ represents his finest release to date. This could be big people. (originally published in Vicious Kitten fanzine in 1995)

Blood, Sweat & Beers : Oz Rock From The Aztecs to Rose Tattoo by Murray Engleheart

It is an honor to be the first person on the internet to review this book – the latest penned by the highly acclaimed Australian music writer Murray Engleheart. ‘Blood, Sweat and Beers : Oz Rock From The Aztecs to Rose Tattoo’ is just that and so much more – and it’s been in the works since the late 80’s. Engleheart mentions in the book, that since that time – Peter Wells, Mick Cocks and Ian Rilen – all key subject figures – have sadly passed away, giving the ending of the works a somewhat ‘memorial’ feel. Wells, Cocks and Rilen were the genuine article – the real rock n roll deal my friends. If you don’t know who they are, then for goddsake purchase this book and learn. The tales from Billy Thorpe (also sadly gone) are told straight to the author as is – and are truly fascinating. So too the Rose Tattoo and Angels stories – like Pete’s final gig at Narara – where the Tatts walked on at 12.30am after Cold Chisel’s marathon set and went about blowing the roof off. This book covers much territory and contains some truly rare and remarkable photographs. There is a great live shot of Duff McKagen on a Melbourne stage with the Tatts from early 1993. When you mention ‘Australia’ and ‘rock n roll’ to someone they most likely think of AC/DC – and rightly so. But they are only just scratching the surface – on an amazing era in the history of Oz Rock. When I  saw this on the book shelf sitting next to Vince Neil’s ‘Tattoos & Tequila’ I nearly laughed aloud. It’s like parking an E49 V8 Charger next to a Commodore – I mean – gimme a break ! Guys like Ian Rilen, Micks Cocks, Peter Wells and Lobby Lloyde were more rock n roll than Neil will ever be – and they left the world largely unknown – an injustice.  Their amazing lives and rock n roll tales are contained in these pages and this book goes a long way to righting that wrong. ‘Blood, Sweat and Beers’ is informative and well researched and is without a doubt one of the most important titles  ever written on Australian rock n roll.