Posts Tagged ‘Peter Wells’

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)


1975 was a weird year for Buffalo. For 3 years they ruled the suburban and country town halls with their stompin’ high-energy heavy metal sound, yet at the same time only had very minor success with record sales. Buffalo were at the crossroads !! Did the band feel they were treading water and they needed to try and improve on the record sales side of things ??? It certainly seemed so. In a move which shocked Buffalo fans, guitarist and songwriter John Baxter was sacked from the band and a new direction was sought, which brings us to the 1976 LP Mothers Choice. True, this ain’t the Black Sabbath on speed sound of the earlier LP’s, never the less this is defiantly one of Buffalo’s greatest moments – the sludgy metallic riffs of ‘Volcanic Rock’ and ‘Only Want You For Your Body’ have been replaced with a ‘Sticky Fingers’-era Stones/Chuck Berry on rocket fuel type vibe. As the Tatts would say ‘good time rock and roll’. The killer riffs are still there as is the power and energy. Karl Taylor wrote most of the music on this album and was a great choice as new guitarist. Playing slide is Norm Roue (from Band of Light, another great Aussie band) his playing being nothing short of genius. Peter Wells who plays bass on this album definitely must’ve picked up a few pointers from Norm, as the style he played with Rose Tattoo is not dissimilar. It did seem for a while that this album was going to be huge, as a single of ‘Little Queenie’ b/w ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ charted quite well. But somehow it didn’t happen. A follow-up single, another cover version – ‘Sweet Little 16’ did get T.V and radio play but it didn’t sell. If only some of the tougher tracks like ‘Taste It Don’t Waste It’ or ‘Honey Babe’ (what a great 70’s song title !!!) had been released things may’ve gone differently. Even compromising their traditionally explicit album cover designs didn’t help and the album flopped. Slowly members left including founding member Peter Wells and a final album was released – a pretty weak effort titled ‘Average Rock n Roller’ (saved only by a great Stones style ballad called ‘Hotel Ladies’). However the bottom line is ‘Mother’s Choice’ is a killer record. If only the Stones had released an album this strong !! Like all Buffalo albums, this is pretty hard to get, a German counterfeit/bootleg may be the best option followed by paying big $$ for an original. It is rumoured that an official release of all the Buffalo LP’s is on the way so start saving.

(Archive Source: Vicious Kitten Fanzine Issue 8  1998) by Steven Danno

Fans of genuine Aussie rock (Angels, Tatts, AC/DC)  take note. BITZER are for you. Forget about Airbourne for one second and the carbon copied style of oz rock they play. They are good at what they do, they nod approvingly to the past, but they lack the legitimacy, the authenticity, that a band like BITZER have to offer. This is Oz rock the way it should be played. It’s fun, it’s loud, proud, and kicks ass.  Bitzer is a new group featuring many familiar faces.  Experienced troupers from the halcyon days of OZ rock, we should be thankful that they are still treading the boards in 2013. Their collective experience includes stints in  Rose Tattoo, Dragon, Ted Mulry Gang, Kevin Borich, Billy Thorpe, The Pete Wells Band, Black Label and the Damn Fine Band to name a few. Bitzer are Steve Edmonds, Lucy Desoto, Steve Mulry, Steve King, Mick O’Shea and Mick Arnold – and they have just released their debut, self titled six track EP that pays tribute to some of this country’s finest hard rock bands and the glory days of Oz pub rock.  The EP opens with a supremely bitchin’, full tilt cover of AC/DC’s classic ‘Riff Raff’, with Steve Edmonds not only shredding on guitar, but belting out a vocal that would bring a smile to Bon’s face.  Edmonds is a great player, and deserves greater recognition. Go check out the Steve Edmonds Band if you get a chance. Next up, Lucy De Soto gives ‘Bad Boy For Love’ the sultry, low down jazz treatment.  I’ve seen Lucy enough times over the years to know that as a jazz/blues singer, she can compete with the best of ‘em, and on ‘Bad Boy’ her vocal is lush and deeply rich, highlighting the stripped back arrangement that gives a fresh, diverse appeal to Ian Rilen’s classic. Speaking of Rilen, Lucy again takes lead vocal on a menacing cover of his tune, ‘401’, originally from the Hell To Pay album ‘Steal It’. I like this a lot.  I also like Black Label a lot – with Steve Mulry out front. Black Label are the best band in Australia – fact (search through this blog for reviews of their recent albums) and in Mulry, they have a front man with a distinctive, strong and appealing voice that reeks of authenticity. Mulry tackles a cover of the Angels ‘Marseilles’ that is as every bit as raw and rockin’ as the original. If you want evidence of his vocal versatility and ability, listen to his super strong delivery on ‘No Times For Games’. The Midnight Oil classic never sounded this good! Listening to this killer tune reminds me that Pete should return to rock ‘n’ roll. MP stands for microphone please! Steve Edmonds again takes lead vocal on a tasty cover of Kevin Borich’s ‘Gonna See My Baby Tonight’ that is catchy with a capital C.  If you wanna taste of the glory days of Oz rock in 2013 –  Bitzer deliver the goods in no uncertain terms. 10 out of 10. At only 9 bucks, you have no excuse for not buying a copy of Oz Rock Six Pack. Buy it here.


Pete live in 1998 – (pic: Denis Gray)

Seven years back today – Pete Wells passed away. No one – and I mean no one – played better slide guitar than Pete. I am not just saying this, as Pete is no longer with us either – as I have long believed that his guitar sound – was a vital ingredient to the sound of Rose Tattoo. Try as they might – I am yet to hear Guns n Roses doing a take of ‘Nice Boys’ which sounds half as good as the Tatts…..because no one can play it like Wells did ! His sounds is so instrumental to that cut, like so many other Rose Tattoo numbers. The legacy of Peter Wells lives on and everyday, when some kid listens to Assault and Battery or that first album from 1978 – they are hearing smoking slide guitar from one of the very best. One of my best Pete memories was sometime in 1991 – at the Espy in St Kilda. I think it was a mid-week gig and the hard-hitting Warwick Fraser was in Pete’s band. They blew the roof of that beachside pub and were very loud. During a break in the set – I heard someone say ‘Thorpie’s backstage’ – which indeed – he was. Remember that Thorpe had been absent from Australia for some years. So there was Billy Thorpe – standing with a beer with Michael Gudinski – watching the Pete Wells band in red hot form. A great night of Pete Wells rock n roll – though there were several over the years. One other occurred in the late summer of 1993 – at a night club in the country town of Wagga Wagga – called Copacabana.  The Tatts were back – due to support GnR and were doing what coulda been their first show back. I stood in front of Pete – and felt the enormous power of Rose Tattoo being blasted out. This was not lightweight 1986 ‘Calling/Falling’ Tatts – this was the real fucking deal. Cocks, Wells, Leech, Anderson and DeMarco – the boys were back in town and were not here to mess about either. I will always remember that night – Wells, dressed in black – standing with a ciggie in his mouth – in front of his amp – sweating profusely as he played – leaning over that mike stand the way he did –  doing what he did best – better than most others in fact. Your music lives on – and you live forever in the hearts of many. (Mr Rockbrat)

Pete’s slide playing certainly provided some distinction to the Tatts sounds – and even though in 78 they were all calling Alberts home – the sound of the Big  3 (Angels, AC/DC and the Tatts was certainly distinct from each other – and the Tatts sound largely due to the slide playing. With Cocksy at stage left providing the rapid fire riffs, and Rilen/Geordie laying down the heavy rhythm –  Wellsy has plenty of space to create what are now considered, classic slide guitar parts. Looking back – guys like Wellsy were so iconic, so authentic. Revered by those who knew a thing or two about rock n roll – his style, look and sound was shamelessly aped by hordes of Sunset Strip wannabes in the late 80s who cashed in with a look and sound that Wellsy has forged a good decade or so earlier. As time marches on – I often reflect on those great times I saw Wellsy over the years – good memories locked away.  I remember one night in 92 (I think) at Barry McCann’s Lansdowne Hotel at Broadway – heading upstairs (the only band I ever saw upstairs at the Lansdowne) to see a one off performance by ROMEO DOG – a band featuring Andy Anderson on vocals/guitar, Wellsy on vocals/slide, Andy Cichon on bass and Mick O Shea on drums – for under $10! I bought a German copy of their CD and had all the guys sign it for me. That’s a good memory – though I have many of Pete. Never forgotten. (Cowboy Col)

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…

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)