TATTOO RODEO – Rode Hard, Put Away Wet (1991) HQ
As requested, here’s ‘Rode Hard / Put Away Wet‘ the debut album from TATTOO RODEO, the underrated and criminally band still unheard by many classic era hard rock fans. Formed by ex members of ’80 AOR-pomp gods WHITE SISTER, this first album (1991) by TATTOO RODEO showcased a completely different beast musically speaking: bluesy hard rock with a midtempo melodic feel.
Combining punchy catchy bluesy rockers with melodic midpaced tunes, ‘Rode Hard / Put Away Wet’ is some kind of mix between CRY OF LOVE, BADLANDS, WHITESNAKE, TALL STORIES, and some CINDERELLA / TORA TORA.
With Paul Sabu involved into production / arrangements and Dennis Churchill-Dries phenomenal vocal performances, ‘Rode Hard / Put Away Wet’ is a cult classic that shoulda been commercially huge.
By 1991, the Hollywood Hair Scene was in full swing, and preparing to be in free-fall. Labels were going out of their way to sign anyone and everyone who had the big hair look, often times overlooking the fact that they weren’t particularly good musicians or songwriters.
It became increasingly hard to find original sounding bands, as everyone was looking for that next big radio hit, which meant that next big paycheck.
But with Atlantic Records’ signing of Tattoo Rodeo, they got a band that had the look…even the pedigree, to a certain extent… but instead of getting a carbon-copy sounding hair band, the label got a southern rock-tinged hard rock band that sounded very little like most of their contemporaries on the radio.
For the uninitiated, Tattoo Rodeo was formed from the remnants of ’80s AORsters White Sister. That band managed to place songs on multiple move soundtracks and seemed poised to potentially break big with a couple of solo records.
As was often the case at the time, however, things didn’t go the band’s way, and Churchill-Dries, Chadock, and Wright moved on from that failed effort and formed Tattoo Rodeo.
Altering their sound to a pretty large degree, Tattoo Rodeo left behind the mid-80s AOR/pomp sound and incorporated a lot of southern rock and bluesy classic hard rock into their sound, which set them apart from much of the rest of the hair scene.
Sounding more harder-edged than Ratt or Poison, Tattoo Rodeo kicked things off in their own way immediately, as a steel guitar led in the opening track, the punchy rocker, “Strung Out” which finds Churchill-Dries affecting a gritty, bluesy lower tenor range and supported by strong backing vocals… and continued all the way through to the end, with “Hard Like A Rock” starting off much like “Strung Out” does, with an acoustic steel guitar leading the way and Churchill-Dries dripping southern swagger all over the blues-stomp barroom rocker.
And as good as these two songs are, they are merely bookends on an excellent, at-the-time-original sounding record, as the shoulda-been-huge, bluesy-smooth ballad “Been Your Fool”, and the catchy rocker “Everybody Wants What She’s Got”, are two of the stand-outs of the record.
“Ain’t No Reason Why” is a fun, foot-stomping rock number with a easy to sing chorus, nice gang backing vocals, and solid bass line, and “Love Shuffle” is a rollicking drinking song that utilizes a saloon-styled piano and simple-yet-snappy drum line to move things along nicely.
“Tell Me Why” is a bit more contemporary-sounding… yet no-less effective power ballad, and “Shotgun Johnny” is the band’s southern-fried homage to Zeppelin, with some of the album’s best bass and drum work and a big “Kashmir”-styled guitar hook. Good, good stuff.
The production is really good and the style is so different from what most people were playing at the time. The tone and sound of the guitars is especially strong here, and Churchill-Dries has an excellent voice for this style of music, and I wish desperately that this band had managed to be bigger than they were.
If you are a fan of the era and especially if you are into classic bluesy hard rock, I’d strongly recommend Tattoo Rodeo and ”Rode Hard, Put Away Wet”, a terrific 1991 rock album that deserves a place into that year’s ‘Best Of’
01 – Strung Out
02 – Sweet Little Vikki
03 – Been Your Fool
04 – Everybody Wants What She’s Got
05 – Ain’t No Reason Why
06 – Let Me Be The One
07 – Blonde Ambition
08 – Love Shuffle
09 – Shotgun Johnny
10 – Tell Me Why
11 – One Way Love
12 – Down
13 – Hard Like A Rock
Dennis Churchill Dries – lead vocals, bass
Rick Chadock – guitar
Michael Lord – keyboards
Rich Wright – drums
Ron Bloom – guitars, keyboards
Paul Sabu – backing vocals