I got my first tattoo at 45. Tony Cronin, the one-time bodyguard and chauffeur of Chopper Read, got his at 13. I now have six of them. He has more than it is humanly possible to count and, in fact, if you Google some pictures of him you’ll see that it’s pretty hard to say where one finishes and the next one starts.
But they tell a story, as tattoos always do – and it’s the story, the story of Tony Cronin’s tattoos, that has been captured and distilled into music and imagery in an amazing new CD/DVD release from
’s psychedelic rock band, Slocombe’s Pussy. Melbourne
I first encountered Slocombe’s Pussy – Are You Being Served notwithstanding – just a couple of weeks ago when I heard their incredible improvisational collaboration with the Paul Kidney Experience. But Tattoo (or Tattoo: Slocombe’s Pussy Play the Tattoos of Tony Cronin, to give it its full title) is another thing entirely.
For almost an hour, it takes you on a journey into a darkened psychedelia – a kaleidoscope of blacks and greys, the restless beat of disenfranchised youth, the lure of disfigured art, the relentless drive of rebellion.
It’s all here in Tattoo, music that moves in and out of crowded quagmires of noise and wild riffs of psychedelic rock and plaintive laments of acid guitars: music that gathers energy, contemplates it and then releases it, and then gathers it all over again, all the while taking you on its journey through dingy tattoo studios, dingy streets, dingy lives, but always driven by an energy that unabashedly revels in them all.
You can experience Tattoo in either of two ways. You can watch the DVD, where the band’s performance is painted over with images of Tony Cronin and his tattoos, or you can just listen to the CD and let the music paint its own pictures for you. In either case, this music will take hold of you and drag you into its orgasmic sordid world, its explosive tribute to everything everyone respectable frowns upon.
But ultimately it’s the journey, and the story, that is the most compelling thing about Tattoo. It doesn’t rest anywhere: not in the yearning heartache of ‘The Land of Darkness’, not in the defiant resilience of ‘Je ne regrette rien’, not in the surly, sexy sax of ‘”O” Negative’ – always, this music makes you feel it has somewhere to go, somewhere to take you.
Tattoo is a unique melding together of music, art and a life – not just the life of one man who started to have his body tattooed when he was 13, but the life of any person who stands a little to the side of everyone else. There are times when you might feel more than just a bit unsettled by this music – but, really, it is only a mirror. And when you look into it, you see yourself, and you see that you are dancing to its beat.
Slocombe’s Pussy will be launching Tattoo at the Workers Club in
on 26 November. Melbourne, Australia