Rockbrat Wonders: What are Cowboy Col’s Desert Island Discs?

Howdy Rockbrat disciples. You know Mr. Rockbrat and Cowboy Col began collecting records in 1979/80. I remember Mr. Rockbrat buying Slade’s –‘Sladest’ LP, I remember catching buses all over Sydney in search of  second hand book and record stores in that eternal search for those early KISS albums. I remember buying 45’s of KISS’ Talk To Me’, (and plastering the sleeve with KISS cards), and Queens’ ‘Another One Bites The Dust’.  I remember Mr. Rockbrat buying singles by the Vapors and Billy Squire. Anyway, the point is, we started buying records at a relatively young age.  The Rockbrat gave me copies of Devo’s ‘Live’ EP and Adam & The Ants – Kings Of The Wild Frontier’ LP and the record collecting bug had well and truly begun to bite.  After 25 years of collecting records, I amassed a collection of over 2000 LPs, purchased from stores all over the globe. Anyways, as I was out riding the range the other day, I got to thinking about the old ‘Desert Island Discs’ scenario, and if I was on that desert island, which 20 albums would I take?  How do I select only 20 from over 2000? After a lifetime of rock n roll, how do I sift out the gold? What this exercise has shown me is that after all these years, my musical tastes have diversified, grown even, from my days as a teenage metal head. This is evidence by the fact that there are actually very few metal albums that make the final cut. I also struggled to find one Australian album that I’d take. Although Birdman’s ‘Radios Appear’ and the Tatts debut album or Assault & Battery’ came close. I guess my main qualifier was that these albums are the ones that I consistently select when rifling through my album collection looking for something to play. They sound great at any time of the day. Well here are my top 20 (in no particular order) with ten ‘in reserve’. 

DAVE EDMUNDS – REPEAT WHEN NECESSARY – Dave Edmund is one of my faves. This is his 1979 album and it features all the Rockpile guys, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams.  I could have gone for Tracks On Wax, but I never get tired of tunes like ‘Crawling from the Wreckage or ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon’.

 DESMOND CHILD AND ROUGE – RUNNERS IN THE NIGHT – This album came out in 1979 and followed up the debut S/T album. This album stands out – almost 30 years later – for the same reason as it stood out then. It has a distinctive theatrical edginess and a unique ensemble sound – one guy and three girls – shot through with hard rock guitars. Songs like ‘’The Truth Comes Out’, ‘The Night Was Not’ are catchy, melodic and well written. This album (I think) is the blue print that Child used for all his later successes. The three brunettes in Rouge are all smoking hot too. Ahead of its time.

JEFF DAHL – WICKED- I have great memories of blasting this out from the small Bromley flat we were living in, in the London summer of 1994. As I’ve said previously and elsewhere, after Thunders died in 1991, the one guy who filled that musical void for me was Dahl, and this album in particular. I own pretty much every Dahl album, and it was hard to select one over the others. Yet when you look at these tracks, ‘Lisa’s World’, ‘Face of an Angel’, ‘Radio Babylon’, ‘Real High School Romance’ you can’t really go wrong. This album features Melanie Vammen of the Pandoras / Muffs on keyboard.

 FACES – A NOD IS AS GOOD AS A WINK…TO A BLIND HORSE- This album was stuck on my turntable for most of 1990, what an album, with no ‘styli lifters’ anywhere. The booze and blooze of early 70’s Faces, with the swagger of Rod n Rod in full flamboyant flight. This was the Faces’ only major commercial break-through, and the success was well-deserved. The band proves itself to be as loud as the loudest (the bluesy “Miss Judy’s Farm”; the catchy “Too Bad” and “That’s All You Need”), and pumps out a couple of great ballads (“Love Lives Here”; “Debris”). How can you go past “Stay With Me,” a great, anthemic rocker that is possibly the Faces’ high point.

 GEORGIA SATELLITES – IN THE LAND OF SALVATION & SIN  One of the great lost albums in rock history, only appreciated by the few fans that purchased it. Every track here is a winner with a few being among their best. “Days Gone By”, and the cover of Joe South’s “Games People Play” are all great songs, containing memorable choruses. “Bottle O’ Tears”, “Crazy”, and “Bring Down the Hammer” are all great, and “Six Years Gone” is probably my favourite all time Satellites song. “Another Chance” is very much The Faces, and “All Over But The Cryin’ is one of the best that Dan Baird penned. I could have taken any of the Georgia Satellites albums, but ‘In the Land of Salvation and Sin’ is just stellar.

 HEART – DREAMBOAT  ANNIE The debut album from Canada’s Heart, released in early ’76, a unique combination of hard rock and folk rock and amazing Ann Wilson vocals. ‘Magic Man’, ‘Dreamboat Annie’, ‘Crazy On You’, so many great songs on this album. I have great memories of spinning this one with the Rockbrat. I also could have chosen the Bebe le Strange LP.

 BUCK OWENS – THE BUCK OWENS SHOW LIVE IN LAS VEGAS The creator of the Bakersfield sound, Owens is rally in fine form here on this 10 track LP from 1972, Tunes like ‘Big In Vegas, ‘Cold Cold Wind’ and ‘Lodi’ really bring it home. Buck also released a live at Sydney Opera House LP in 72 that fetches big big bucks now.

 IAN HUNTER – Welcome To The Club Sheesh, trying to pick my favourite Ian Hunter album is akin to asking whether you prefer your Mum or your Dad. I REALLY dug Ian Hunter’s 2004 ‘Rant’ album, but I’m going to go for the  double live LP ‘Welcome To The Club’, recorded during his record- breaking seven night sell-out at The Roxy in L.A. Co-produced with Mick Ronson, this album has many highlights of those shows: solo gems & hits from his days with Mott The Hoople, including ‘All The Young Dudes’, ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’, ‘All The Way From Memphis’, ‘Cleveland Rocks’ and ‘Slaughter On Tenth Avenue’ . Ellen Foley on back up vocals, Ronno on guitar, crank this sucker up ! If you need an intro to Ian Hunter, this is probably the best place to start.

NEIL YOUNG – TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT If I thought it was difficult selecting one Ian Hunter album, then choosing one Neil Young album has also proved difficult, but I’ll go with Neil’s eighth album, his 1975 effort, ‘Tonight’s The Night’. Recorded in 73, but not released until 75, the album is full of fire and brimstone and a musical tribute to Neil’s friend, roadie Bruce Berry and Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten. Both died of drug overdoses. Whitten’s guitar and vocal work highlight on ‘Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown, simply shreds, while tunes ‘like ‘Speakin Out’ and ‘World On A String’ are also great. No fillers here. There’s light and dark and anger and emotion and one beautifully messy musical message that has the overdubs kept to a minimum – and it features Nils Lofgren (one of my 4 favourite guitar players), the others being Ron Wood, Randy Rhoads and Johnny Thunders, for your interest.

OZZY OSBOURNE – DIARY OF A MADMAN / BLIZZARD OF OZ – What can I say about Randy Rhoads that hasn’t already been said ? Ozzy Osbourne can thank the musical wizardry of people like Rhoads and Bob Daisley for reinventing his career – and basically giving him the profile that he has today – such was the significance of these first two ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ albums. These two albums are landmark albums in terms of heavy rock guitar innovation / playing and hard rock song writing. Osbourne never bettered the brilliance of these two albums, and that speaks volumes about the quality and calibre of Rhoads’ work on these two albums. Whilst Rockbrat was playing KISS’ Animalise’ album, I was still locked into these two Osborne albums. Sure I dug the ‘Bark At The Moon’ album from 83, but it was standard HM fare. Like I said, these were the best two albums Osbourne ever did and I couldn’t get enough. I had posters of Rhoads and Ozzy on my walls. Rhoads’ legacy speaks for itself. If you ain’t got these two albums, well, you know where to start.

 NANCY SINATRA – MOVIN’ WITH NANCY – I’ve got an old scratched copy of this soundtrack LP for Nancy Sinatra’s hour long 1968 network television special. Out of all Nancy’s albums I own, this is the one that ranks as my fave. Movin’ With Nancy was not the standard variety-hour special customary for stars of the time. Some pretty cool songs here, like “Some Velvet Morning,” “Jackson, and “Friday’s Child”. Also includes Rat Pack guest appearances by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis. The duet with Deano, ‘Things’ is pretty neat. Deano was one cool cat.

STATUS QUO – THE BEST OF 1972-1974 – The obvious Quo album I reached for was ‘Whatever You Want”, with it’s apt tune “Living On An Island”, but for the same reason I’m not bringing my copy of Robinson Crusoe, I don’t need to be reminded I’m stuck on this island !  I’m marooned like Gilligan, and there ain’t no sign of Ginger or Mary-Anne anywhere! Only my trusty turntable and some pina colada I made, so sit back and listen. Early to mid 70’s Quo just flat out rocks, and sometimes I just wanna boogie, heads down Lancaster/Parfitt/Rossi style. I was going to take ’12 Gold Bars’, but I went for a Dutch compilation album I have which captures the bluesy, no frills boogie of a band on the cusp on worldwide success. ‘Paper Plane’, ‘Roll Over Lay Down’, ‘All the reasons’, ‘Big Fat Mama’, ‘Blue Eyed Lady’, Backwater’, ‘Drifitng Away’ – so many great songs here, and it’s an album I often throw on the turntable and crank.  As the cabbie king was said, you can’t really go wrong with any of those classics.  Where’s my jeans jacket ? 

KISS – DOUBLE PLATINUM – I simply cannot go to a desert island without a KISS album to the island, because they have been a part of musical life since that 1980 tour. Mr. Rockbrat was an absolutely devoted kiss freak  when it was not cool to be into Kiss, i.e.: after the hysteria (or be it kissteria) of the summer 1980/81 Australian tour died down. Each new album Rockbrat found brought new joys of discovery and musical wonder. It just didn’t get any better. I have fond memories of listening to Double Platinum on cassette on Rockbrat’s old portable cassette player. Kiss will always be remembered as a 70’s band, despite anything else they did post 1980, and that’s why I’ve selected Double platinum, cos it selects the best cuts of the band of that decade.  ‘Cold Gin‘, ‘Strutter’, ‘Detroit Rock City’, ‘Doctor Love’. The unadulterated joy of hearing these classics for the first time on a cassette you bought from the second hand record store, or watching grainy video clips of ‘I Want You’ on a hot summers day are forever etched in my mind. Great days Mr. Rockbrat. Even though I’m selecting a KISS comp, I couldn’t get by without this. 

LOFGREN  NILS  – NILS LOFGREN – Nils is one of my four favourite guitar players, and his body of work has always been critically acclaimed, but he’s never been a household name. Better known as sideman to Neil Young or Springsteen, his solo work however is very good and very underappreciated – but not by the Cowboy. If I had to select one of his albums, it would be his self titled effort from 75 (although Crooked Line runs a close second). This was his first solo album, following the breakup of his group, Grin. The album was critically praised at the time of its release, most notably in a 1975 Rolling Stone review, and 35 years later it still cooks. The acrobatic Nils was hot property and is guitar playing was aces. No wonder he was considered as a replacement from Mick Taylor in the Stones. Tracks like “Be Good Tonight”, “Back It Up” “If I Say It, It’s So” and “Keith Don’t Go” are all killer, and if you are just discovering Nils for the first time, go check this out.

CHEAP TRICK – ONE ON ONE  – I owned every Cheap Trick album, coloured vinyl, picture discs, posters etc etc. I still remember the first time I saw them at Sydney’s Tivoli. Zander was so cool, so many great songs, great pop, great rock, great ‘memorable’ songs. ‘One On One’ is probably my favourite CT album. Classic HRPP (hard rock power pop)- Hey, I coined an acronym Rockbrat. It has great songs and it’s very well produced by QUEEN master Roy Thomas Baker. An album of tight, well constructed tunes, all with the wonderful melodic Cheap Trick sound. Like its predecessor, “All Shook Up,” Zander really stretches his vocals. Stuff like “One on One,” and “Oo La La La” are just great, and of course, the ballad “If You Want My Love”, is an out and out classic. “She’s Tight” and “Looking Out For Number One” are also very underrated. No styli lifters present anywhere. Cheap Trick did far better songs than “Surrender” and ‘Dream Police”, check out this classic album and prove me wrong. I still have a copy of this on picture disc.

JOHNNY THUNDERS & THE HEARTBREAKERS – DTK LIVE AT THE SPEAKEASY –I’ve been a lifelong disciple of the often copied, but never bettered Johnny Volume, and have owned all his albums. How to pick a highlight ? Well, what I dig about this album is the fact that it’s loud, sloppy, and laden with bawdy introductions. The between-song abuse Johnny hurls at the “boring” kids in the crowd for not wanting to dance just adds fuel to the fire. The Heartbreakers are so real on this recording you can smell the danger. This was recorded before the band signed to track Records and released LAMF, and as such, the performance rivals the studio album in intensity, but also in terms of sound–the production is almost flawless. Classic rock and roll the likes of which we’ll never see again. Thunders at his most magnificent.

ROLLING STONES – ROLLED GOLD – Yeah OK, it’s a Stones Best of, but the Rockbrat and I used to play this to death in his car tape player. Released In November 75, sheesh, 35 years ago, it’s one you need in case the SS Minnow lands on your island and you wanna party. Rolled Gold reached #7 in the U.K chart and was a strong seller over the years. How can you go wrong with a bunch of Chuck Berry covers, Little Red Rooster, Paint It Black, Honky Tonk Women, Gimme Shelter etc. Yep, there all here. Essential

ROAD VULTURES  – RIDE CD – I gotta take a Kevin K CD, but which one ? I’ve gone for a CD by the band he had with his late brother Alan, the Road Vultures ‘Ride’. The Road Vultures were one of the most criminally ignored rock n roll bands of the 90’s. Released in 1995, ‘Ride’ was the Vultures second and final album, following hot on the heels of 1993’s ‘Fire It Up’, which was surely the album the Dead Boys never made (and incidentally featured Cheetah Chrome on guitar). ‘Ride’ was again based around the writing and singing talents of Alan and Kevin K, and it’s full of fire and brimstone guitars with Beatles-esque harmonies. The combination of trashy riffs, heavy on the melody and layered with those soothing vocals – man the appeal is irresistible, you just can’t help tapping your foot or getting up and dancing. Kevin K spells rock n roll. The last in line my friends.  

BEATLES – ABBEY ROAD   – Harrison wrote a number of songs during the time the Beatles were together but he was always in the shadow of Lennon and McCartney. With Abbey Road he came up with the song ‘Something’ which would be rated as highly as anything the Beatles had done. Even Ringo Starr contributed a reasonable song with ‘Octopus’s Garden.’ I can do without Macca’s reminiscing and vaudevillian like ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.’, but that aide, this album is gold. ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ , ‘Sun King.’ ‘Because.’ ‘Golden Slumbers’ ‘Come Together’. All classics. ‘The End’ would have been a great finish to the last album recorded by the Beatles yet was poisoned by a little bit of McCartney nonsense called ‘Her Majesty.’ No wonder Lennon wanted out. Many of the songs on Abbey Road are dominated by McCartney’s virtuoso bass guitar parts. It is noticeable that the bass became increasingly prominent on the later Beatles albums as McCartney wielded his influence in the studio. All aside, this is my favourite Beatles album, though I could have also taken any of ‘em. I have great memories of listening to this album over and over and over late at night in 92.  

PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS    – BAND ON THE RUN – Did Macca ever pen a better album than this one ? I doubt it, though ‘Red Rose Speedway’ also comes close.  1974’s top-selling studio album in the UK and Australia, this album revitalised McCartney’s critical standing. For the Beatle freak, of which I believe there are one or two, this was the last McCartney album issued on the Apple Records label. Along with Macca and Mrs Macca, the much maligned Denny Laine really shines on this album, with his rhythm, lead, acoustic, flamenco and bass guitar playing a standout. He also played keyboards, percussion, and backup vocals. For a hired employee, his efforts are sterling. It was a pity Macca treated him with such contempt as the years went on. “Helen Wheels” was released as a non-album single which went top 10 worldwide, whetting the appetite before the album’s release. “Jet”, “Band On The Run”, “Bluebird”, “Mrs Vandebilt”, the awesome “Let Me Roll It” – no styli fillers here. Did you know that the 8-track tape version of this album has the distinction of being one of the few 8-tracks that is arranged just like the record album. Has anyone seen my argentine ants?  




ROSE TATTOO – ROSE TATTOO (or Assault & Battery)









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