Australia’s Shock Records have done quite a bit to shake up their stable of acts lately, including the recent addition of hardcore imprint Halfcut Records with acts such as UK’s Gallows and While She Sleeps as well as Sydney’s Heroes For Hire. But the latest addition to the record label’s roster would surprise even those hardened acts.

In a press statement released late yesterday, Shock Records announced they had just inked a deal with infamous Australian icon Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. The ex-criminal/author/now musician has to reveal the full details of his upcoming album with the label, but the as yet-to-be named record will be a collection of “prison song covers” sung by Read, with “each track having special significance” to the notorious Chopper.

What constitutes a ‘prison song’? Well, we can only guess at this stage as to the tunes on the album, expected for a February 2013 release, but it we wager Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ might be in for a chance; or Jimi Hendrix’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’… how about Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ ‘Mercy Seat’?

Read did have this to tweet, shortly after his signing:

Scot Crawford, Executive Manager for Shock Records, speaking to The Music Network says they signed Read after they “were approached with some tracks and off the back of them decided that we wanted to work with Mark.”

Speaking of the announcement, Crawford added, “there has been some colorful commentary on our social media in regards to this decision, but at the end of the day I think a lot of people are going to be very surprised with what is on offer here; and seriously” Crawford says, “…when did anyone in our industry ever shy away from a decision due to a bit of controversy.”

Read is already a famous gangland figure for his former crimes, who spent a large part of his adulte life in prison, since gaining worldwide fame after the Eric Bana starring film, Chopper and Read’s own series of autobiographical books. While last April, he publicly revealed that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

Read’s forthcoming covers album is actually not the first time Chopper has dipped his toe in the music world. In 2006, he released a rap album called Interview With A Madman, 28 tracks (skits and all) of hip-hop tunes about crime and gang warfare; with beats and guest appearances from  the likes of New York City MC Necro, UK’s Lotek and Aussie hip hop star Phrase.

You can sample some of Read’s rhyming below while you ponder if his upcoming album for Shock will be another blotch on his illustrious criminal record, or a glorious curio.