Classic Albums No. 8 – Cold Chisel (Cold Chisel)

Can you get a more quintessentially Aussie band than Cold Chisel? I don’t think so. Who are Cold Chisel? I hear some of you ask. And that in itself is a sad question. Cold Chisel did not make the same the impression overseas as some other bands, yet they were, and still are, a great rock / blues band that surfaced in the mid-seventies based in Sydney. They took pub rock and made into stadium rock. I don’t know why they didn’t conquer the world, but they have a collection songs that stand the test of time. The main songwriter is Don Walker (who wrote all of the songs on the album, except Juliet which he wrote with Jimmy Barnes. Don Walker plays keyboards. Jimmy Barnes is the lead vocalist, Ian Moss sang lead vocals too and plays guitar, Phil Small – Bass, and until recently the late Steve Prestwich (who also wrote his fair share of songs) played drums. There’s affair bit of Saxophone and Harmonica on here too. They are still playing and remain one of Australia’s favourite bands.

Cold Chisel was their debut album, released in 1978. Some prefer Breakfast at Sweethearts or East as the best Chisel album, but for me this ticks all the boxes (I’m a sucker for the raw debut album). The opening track Juliet is a hard rocking song that introduces Jimmy Barnes’ voice Then comes, perhaps one of the most iconic Aussie songs of the 70s – Khe Sanh – it uses keyboards as the major instrument. This is a story about Vietnam veterans and their struggles once they returned. It has been sometimes referred to as the Australian National Anthem. I can clearly remember it providing the background to my first attempt at horizontal bungee in a Sydney pub in 1993. This song was banned from radio for a while due to the lyrics – thankfully we have all moved on from those sorts of decisions.

Home and Broken Hearted follows – more gritty rock. Like Juliet this has the raw edge to it that characterises many songs on debut albums. One Long Day and Rosaline (both sung by Ian Moss rather than Jimmy Barnes)take on a more bluesy feel, adding depth to the album, distinguishing it from many one- dimensional rock albums, as well as showing Don Walker’s song-writing ability. He must be one of the premier Australian songwriters of the last 40 years in my opinion.

Northbound and Daskarzine are both blues-rock that mix great guitar work with the trademark keyboards and Barnes’ gritty voice. Then Just How Many Times finishes of the album with its laid back blues, showing how Jimmy Barnes can also slow it down for the blues.

The sequencing on this album also works really well. Juliet sets the mood, and then the songs vary in intensity, taking the listener up and down, before finishing with the reflective Just How Many Times easing the listener out. I wholeheartedly recommend that those who don’t know Cold Chisel, but like this album chase up their other albums. This album is the complete package, and an incredibly mature collection of songs that indicated that this band were here to stay.

 

You can listen to the full album here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzH7pVGgYbQ

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

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