Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Jimmy Barnes

After Cold Chisel broke up, Jimmy Barnes was on the loose, as the next pseudo Journey singer, because while Steve Perry was doing solo records, the songs that Jonathan Cain was writing ended up on albums from Jimmy Barnes.

There is no doubt that the record label brought out some big guns to get Barnsey into the lucrative North American market.

On the “Working Class Man” album, the title track was written by Jonathan Cain, who played piano and did backing vocals, along with Randy Jackson from “American Idol” fame. On five other tracks, Mick Fleetwood played drums.

On “Freight Train Heart”, Jonathan Cain is playing and co-writing, and so is Neal Schon with Randy Jackson providing bass. Desmond Child is also co-writing. Check out some of the credit pictures.

And if you are a fan of Neal Schon and his guitar work, you will be impressed with his efforts here and Cain’s contributions from a song writing point of view, show a man at the peak of his powers.

Now “For the Working Class Man”, it actually is the second studio released in 1985, however it has five original tracks and seven remixed tracks that had previously been released on Barnesy’s 1984 debut album “Bodyswerve”.

He was on Geffen and the company really put some effort into trying to break him into the US market however the album went 7 times Platinum in Australia, made Barnsey a legend and it did nothing in the U.S.

And the songs, are written by a who’s who.

For side 1 of the first LP, “I’d Die to Be with You Tonight” is written by Chas Sandford, “Ride the Night Away” by Steven Van Zandt/Steve Jordan and by default, it has a Springsteen feel, Steve Jordan.  The very Journey sounding “American Heartbeat” is the closer of side 1 and “Working Class Man” is the opener of side 2. Both are written by Jonathan Cain. All songs are keepers for me.

And the signature song which Barnsey is known by, which captures the Australian spirit and how our livelihoods were attached to the steelworks once upon a time is written by an American.

Side three and four are all Barnsey cuts from his “Bodyswerve” album, and “No Second Prize” is my favourite.

“Freight Train Heart” is album number three and it came out November 1987 in Australia and around March 1988 in the US via Geffen.

As Wikipedia puts it, “Most of the tracks were written by Barnes and one of the producers, Jonathan Cain, however “Waitin’ for the Heartache” was co-written by Barnes and Desmond Child and “Walk On” was co-written by Child and ex-Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner; (Turner would later record his own version with his band Sunstorm). Two songs were also written with Jim Vallance. According to Vallance, Cain also contributed “later”, most likely during the recording process.”

Those songs in question are “I’m Still On Your Side” and “Lessons In Love”.

And the album did great business in Australia, but failed to get any traction in the America market again.

For me the standout track is “Last Frontier” written by Jimmy Barnes and Jonathan Cain, followed by “Driving Wheels” which also captures the Australian truckie lifestyle, co-written with Cain and David Roberts.

“Too Much Ain’t Enough Love”  has a cast of writers in Barnes, Cain, Neal Schon, Randy Jackson and Tony Brock. It is a super power ballad, better than most of the ballads doing the rounds at the time. “Do or Die” is a Barnes, Cain cut and “I Wanna Get Started with You”  is a Barnes, Cain and Schon cut.

And this would be his last album on Geffen and the last to feature a Cain contribution, who ended up being pretty busy with Bad English pretty much at the same time.

And Jimmy Barnes blew me away this year with his best album in decades titled “My Criminal Mind”. He is one of the best front man in the business with one of the most unique voices there is.


2 thoughts on “The Record Vault – Jimmy Barnes

  1. Cold Chisel opened for Nugent here in Thunder Bay back in the summer of 81. Barnes your right never cracked America even with A list talent and songs. Tragically Hip is the Canadian equivalent Pete as their albums would sell anywhere from 5 times to 10 times platinum here in Canada and not make a dent in the U.S. I give the HIp credit though as they always toured the U.S as they never ignored it

    • Good point on the Hip.
      So true and weird how certain acts make it huge in their own country but can’t break it in another. Good music is good music so if its popular here why shouldn’t it be popular elsewhere.

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