Reviews and Press - Big Rock Records
Blues Pirates / Big Rock Records (three & half stars)
THE blues were rural and acoustic until 1944 when Muddy Waters switched to electric
guitar and created Chicago blues. As power blues became the sound of the city, the subtlety
and emotional wail of acoustic blues were trampled. On Blues Pirates, Sydney guitarists
Chris Turner and Cletis Carr return to the form's essence. Turner's songs are meticulous
constructions, filled with often brooding thought and mood. Carr is more towards driving
rhythm. The duo delivers protest blues, mean-women blues, thieving-management blues,
blues to sell your soul for, rollicking country blues and a delightful rearrangement of Duke
Ellington's jazz-blues, Rocks In My Bed. A step-lively version of Rose Tattoo's Bad Boy for
Love by Turner (an ex-Tatt) is remarkable for being the first time the lyrics are intelligible.
There's inspirational virtuosity in the funereal riffing of Rookwood Blues and languorous
guitar interplay in My Woman. An unlisted track, Bullet with Your Name on It, was recorded
in 2006 by Rose Tattoo founder Pete Wells, his last studio session before succumbing to
prostate cancer. In 1983 Turner and Wells had fled Rose Tattoo to shop themselves as an
acoustic duo. They couldn't get a gig. But the spark they tried to ignite 27 years ago now
flames. Acoustic blues dominate Sunday afternoon pub entertainment and Blues Pirates is in
its second pressing.
Anthony O'Grady (Weekend Australian Review, 27-28 November 2010)
Chris Turner’s Blues Pirates – Enmore Theatre September 7th 2005>
I must admit that I have never written a music review before but I felt I had to write this one.
I was invited to the Pete Wells Benefit at The Enmore Theatre by a friend and willingly accepted. I do not know much of Pete Wells’s music apart from of course Rose Tattoo where Angry gets most of the cred and spotlight.
This story is about the opening act on the show, Chris Turner and his Blues Pirates.
On the night Chris walked out on stage to almost total silence, mainly due to the fumbled introduction by Billy Thorpe. Chris took control with a confidence that can only come from years of entertainment experience and started talking about his friend Pete Wells. He told an anecdote about joining the band Buffalo and them sending him out to open the show on his own – he then did just that with a solo piece.
This man can play the guitar! He made the guitar scream and wail and soon had the so far cold audience on side. The Blues Pirates then joined him in a beautiful blues that I later learned was “All Strung Out” from his “Guitar Stories” album. By this time the crowd had caught on to this man’s mastery of the guitar and they were with him.
He then told another Pete Wells story and it became apparent that he really knew the man. My research has later shown that Chris has been working with Pete Wells throughout most of Pete’s musical life : Buffalo, Rose Tattoo, Pete Wells Band, Chris Turner Band, Scattered Aces, Lucy De Soto Band, Rocks Push and even The Blues Pirates.
Chris finished his section of the show with a track from the latest Pete Wells album.
“Mothers Worry” called “Country Girl”, in which he showed us how to play slide guitar. The Blues Pirates were fantastic and Chris built them up to a blistering climax with the crowd going crazy when they left the stage – the show was well and truly opened!
Many fine and legendary acts followed in this tribute to Pete Wells but I for one was blown away by this underdog of Australian music and his tribute to a friend.
Why isn’t Chris Turner famous?
Anne Simpson 2005
Blues Pirates – Merton Estate Hotel – Rozelle NSW. 17/9/06>
I must say how much I personally enjoyed The Blues Pirates.
Chris Turner’s Blues Pirates are an ‘unplugged’ acoustic duo belting out old and new blues tunes.
American local Cletis Carr is the perfect duo partner for Chris Turner and they have obviously worked together before. On this night they were also joined by percussionist Justin Hazelwood.
Chris opened the show and broke the ice by announcing that “An American, an Australian and a Pom walked into a bar and the barman said – ‘Is this some kind of joke?’ No sir, we’re the Blues Pirates!”
The show got off to a fine start with Chris doing a version of Billie Holiday’s “Rocks in My Bed”. Cletis Carr followed this with an original called “Nothin’ to Say”. From then on the songs and guitars were flying thick n’ fast, (when I asked Chris why he has all the guitars, he replied “They’re different colours!”). But I was later assured by Cletis that they are all different tunings and make different sounds.
The night was very entertaining with Turner keeping up a banter and repartee with his fellow musicians and audience. There was some great guitar playing with both musicians playing slide and some original Aussie blues tunes, including “Rookwood Blues” and Turner’s version of the shortest blues song in the world, “Morphine”, which brought the house down. Old standards were revisited and given bright new arrangements. They also dedicated a ‘blue’ version of “Bad Boy for Love” to their friend Pete Wells. Along with the crowd, Pete would have loved it.
Special guests Jonny Gretsch and Stuart Back also added to the fun and entertainment of the night.
When I later asked Chris Turner about The Blues Pirates he said apart from plundering past Blues it was best explained by “Something old – Something new, something borrowed, something blue”
Now where have I heard that before? This is a great motto for this act – Rrrr, they arrrr well worth a look and made many wenches swoon…. Watch out Johnny Depp!
Review and Photograph - Michelle Barta – Director VAMP Media
Review of Guitar Stories by Raymond Becket Miami, Florida
I can't believe that I am the first to review Chris Turner's album "Guitar Stories Vol 1". If it is because I am the first to buy it then I am honored that I might be the first to pass on this great tapestry of music to those who read this. This album shows his true natural ability. This self taught musician is the epitome of the committed artist, a lifelong experimenter and learner. His playing is deep and honest and barely a mistake can be found as he exhibits a range many better known guitar players would envy. His own arrangements of traditional music has been a recurring theme over his musical career starting with a wild arrangement of Swan Lake, played with his first band The Consorts, back in the early 60's. Blues, Rock and Roll, slide guitar whatever, this boy can play. Whether you play the guitar or just like guitar music buy this album, you wont regret it.
EULOGY FOR PETE WELLS by Chris Turner
I met Pete Wells in 1973; he just nodded at me when the band Buffalo turned up to one of my gigs in Wollongong. Our friendship could have stalled at that point and we might have remained nodding acquaintances, if it weren’t for our mutual desire to make good music. We both detested the naff pop music that was being pushed onto the Australian market by ‘vacuum salesmen’ and feckless TV hosts.
Pete never said much, but a snort of derision from him was enough to make you rethink your idea. Pete loved to take musical risks and would purposely not rehearse so that the on stage tension was always high. I never got to rehearse with Buffalo or Rose Tattoo nor did he ever rehearse with my Chris Turner Band or Scattered Aces.
People thought Pete was a hard man, but in fact underneath he was quite fragile and his ego easily bruised, just like the rest of us. Pete was a strong man, sticking to his musical guns throughout his long career. On those long nights in yet another motel room he would talk to me about his new “Band of Keith Richards’ with no fuckin’ pretty boys”. We would talk about being the loudest in the world and about the fact that the electric guitar was indeed the loudest instrument in history and we should exploit this. Pete would quote his father and say “If you’re gonna be a dog be an Alsatian!”
Pete loved to jam, playing bass or guitar with players he liked – I have hours of stuff we recorded. Pete almost never did a second take when recording and we could record an album in under three hours. Pete Wells was a ‘Closet Professional’, doing hours of practice and prep at home so that he knew his stuff.
Another side to Pete was that he loved food and on the road we would head for the best restaurant in town to enjoy a good wine and dine. We kept this habit up for well over thirty years meeting up two or three times a month for a good meal. These nights were never ordinary with too much wine and too much food. He also went through a cooking stage which was interesting!
Except when he was playing the guitar, Pete would not let his left hand know what his right was up to and it was quite hard to figure out what he really thought. He was very political about the music industry, phoning me up constantly saying “You’ll never fuckin’ believe this…!” It was a wonder to behold him doing ten radio interviews and telling a different story to each hapless DJ. He would also tell everyone in the band a different version of what was “really happening” – this made life interesting!
Pete had a really strong personality and would have people doing all sorts of things for him and in this way drag them into his orbit, which could be hard to break out off. I had to get away from Pete’s influence a few times in the past 33 years and I’m sure he was offended at the time.
Pete and Chris onstage
Originally from Brisbane, Pete was a gypsy at heart, moving around the place, Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland although he lived close to me for twenty years in Darlinghurst and just down the road from me in Sydney’s Inner West. We would meet for coffee regularly.
Pete loved to improvise in all things. He would love to throw new music at you and create musical tension that would force you to play right on the edge. A good example of this was with ‘Rocks Push’ when we were dong a ‘Live To Air’ on the World Wide Web. Doug Mulray asked us to do one more piece and Pete with a smile on his face announced that we’d do “So What”, a Miles Davis tune that we both admired. We had never played it!
Pete and I played together in most of our bands, Rose Tattoo, Buffalo, Chris Turner Band, Rocks Push, Scattered Aces, The Laminex Tables, Turner Wells & Royal, The Pete Wells Band, The Bandits, The Blues Pirates and The Lucy De Soto Band. We also had an acoustic blues duo called ‘Two Pissed’ in the early eighties. When Doug Mulray asked Pete why we always played together he replied “Habit”.
Pete was musically active all the time, but unfortunately very few people took any notice of his many and varied projects. There was no time when Pete did not have a recording happening, but as is usually the case only Rose Tattoo, and maybe Buffalo, got any cred. Pete was upset by this but has still left us with dozens of albums to catch up on.
Pete Wells n Cletis Carr, recording Hillbilly Moon
Pete was a frantic slide player and a phenomenal bass player and a great Rock n’ Roller. He also played Sax and Harmonica.
Pete was not completely a hard case, when the mood was on him he would talk for hours on life, the universe, the music business and to me even on his most inner thoughts and fears. He was indeed a very secretive person, keeping his cards very close to his chest.
Pete loved to ‘hold court’ and in his local pub could be found surrounded by devoted admirers, hanging on every word. Of course they couldn’t hear what Pete was saying because he mumbled! Even if they could hear his pearls of wisdom they wouldn’t understand, because everything was delivered in Pete’s special cryptic code! One had to work it out for yourself!
Women loved Pete and he had time for them all, full of charm and secrets…….
Pete Wells was the real thing, a lifer, a professional musician who never did a day job and never compromised his search for great rock n’ roll. He was fiercely loyal to his friends and was always there for me when I needed help. He actually re formed Rose Tattoo and arranged a benefit concert for me when I had a heart problem. He also trusted me enough to play slide for Rose Tattoo!
They say that life can be likened to a train ride, with people getting on and off, some people staying on for a long ride whilst others are only with us for a short journey. If this is the case, this was a hell of a ride and I’m glad that Pete Wells was in my carriage!
Chris Turner March 2006
Review of My Guitar and Me by Recky @
Released in 1980, this is the first solo album by Chris Turner who was the
guitarist in Australian rock bands Rose Tattoo and Buffalo.This great Australian blues/rock
album also features Peter Wells, Dallas (digger) Royal and Geordie Leach all
from Rose Tattoo. Fantastic guitar playing from Chris Turner as well as great
slide guitar from Peter Wells. The music on this album is similar to The Angels but lacks the strength of Doc
Neeson's vocals. Having said this, Chris Turner can still belt out a tune and
the lyrics to songs have a distinct Sydney flavor to them (ie. Oxford St.
Dogs). All tracks are credited to Turner and he shows great diversity with his
writing style, ranging from rocking 12 bar blues to laid back acoustic blues to
pure unadulterated 'Boogie'. My favourite tracks would have to be "Oxford
St Dogs" and "Ear Bleeder". Not a well known album, but a
classic none the less. If you like guitar work, you'll like this album.
Chris is a luthier (repairs stringed instruments) and has built guitars for
many people. The Australian Guitar Album had a guitar shaped like the continent
of Oz (sans tassie) on the cover. Chris built that as well as a white Playboy
rabbit head guitar on a very early Australian Playboy cover.
Chris's skills as a guitar maker led to him developing an act (the Chris Turner
Band) where he smashed up a surreptitiously donned replica of his strat at each
show. He'd repair it (sometimes with a new neck) and then do it all again. I
remember a show back in 1978, at French's Tavern in Oxford St when he shoved
the head stock through the canite stage ceiling and walked offstage and it just
hung there, feeding back, until the roadie got up there and turned the volume knob down.
Note: 'Ricky Livid' was an alias that Chris Turner sometimes played
under [thanks to Phil Jensen at Midoztouch for this trivia] Another piece of trivia [thanks to Ice at Midoztouch] - The cover of the AC/DC
album "Let There Be Rock" shows some fingers on a guitar fretboard.
The fingers belong to Chris.
This post consists of a rip (320kps) taken from my vinyl and includes album
artwork and label scans. As a bonus, I have included Chris's track from the
Australian Guitar Album called "Rock And Roll Man". When I purchased
this album as a teenager, I had no idea who Chris Turner was - I just liked the
music when I heard it played at a party. This album is hard to find and sits
along side my other Aussie Rock treasures.
post consists of a rip (320kps) taken from my vinyl and includes album artwork
and label scans. As a bonus, I have included Chris's track from the Australian
Guitar Album called "Rock And Roll Man". When I purchased this album
as a teenager, I had no idea who Chris Turner was - I just liked the music when
I heard it played at a party. This album is hard to find and sits along side my
other Aussie Rock treasures.
01 - My Guitar And Me
02 - Oxford Street Dogs
03 - Backdoor Man
04 - Little Girl Lover
05 - So Far So Good
06 - Motel Gypsy
07 - Messin' Around
08 - Ear Bleeder
09 - My Guitar And Me
10 - Rock and Roll Man (Bonus Track)
Chris Turner (Guitar, Vocals)
Peter Wells (Slide Guitar, Bass)
Freddie Mangion (Drums)
Dallas (Digger) Royal (Drums)
Ricky Livid (Bass, Guitar)
Stacy Kae Ellis (Backing Vocals)
Robin Jackson (Rhythm Guitar)
Chris Turner Link (90Mb)