Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Spin Series – Cold Chisel

Here is the usual prologue.

My blogger pal Deke over at Thunder Bay had a cool Northern Hemisphere Summertime Series between July and August.

Each week, he wrote about albums he spun during the summer.

Well, the real Earth summer is between December, January and February in the Southern Hemisphere.

So the good act that Thunder Bay is, boarded a Qantas plane, landed in Sydney, survived 14 days quarantine in a Sydney hotel and is finally here to present the “Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Series”.

“East” is the third studio album by Australian rock band Cold Chisel, released in June 1980 and produced by Mark Opitz.

The album was a massive success in the Australian market and it was the only Cold Chisel album to chart in America via its release on the Elektra label.

They did a 5 week tour in the North American market during this album run and never went back. A certain A&R guy called Tom Zutuat was given an ultimatum from the label, if he wanted to sign Motley Crue he had to let Cold Chisel go.

The band at this stage weren’t a successful recording band although their shows would sell out so the album was a deliberate attempt to write hits but in the way that they write.

The beauty of Cold Chisel is the variation.

Vocalist Jimmy Barnes is the soul, blues rock guy. Pianist and main songwriter, Don Walker is the Springsteen/Dylan storyteller. Ian Moss is the heavy rock guy ala Blackmore from Purple. Drummer Steve Prestwich is the prog rock dude and bassist Phil Small brings the pop rock.

Put it all together and the sounds which come out is Cold Chisel.

“Standing On The Outside”, written by Don Walker kicks of the album in rocking fashion.

“No amount of work’s gonna buy my way to Freedom”

We have been sold the dream that if we work hard enough, we will be somebody. But that’s not the case for everybody. For every person who makes it there are millions who don’t.

The themes of the “working class man struggling financially” would appear on a lot of songs from Chisel and even on songs when the members went solo. Because even though Australia is seen as the “lucky country”, it sure costs a lot to live in it.

“Never Before” is written by Ian Moss and its progressive, a fusion of so many different styles, almost Police like.

“Choirgirl” is a Don Walker cut and he writes about abortion and the rights of a woman to choose, which at the time was part of the national debate.

“Rising Sun” from Jimmy Barnes romps it’s way through the 12 bar blues as he references his brief relationship with his future wife which ended at the time when she went back to Japan, hence the lyric of the rising sun stealing his baby away.

“My Baby” from bassist Phil Small is my favourite. That vocal melody lead played on the guitar by Ian Moss during the intro deserves to be listened to.

The killer cuts continue with “Tomorrow”, which is another Don Walker track about a person who comes out of jail, can’t catch a break trying to make it legit and ends up on the wrong side of the law again.

“Cheap Wine” is a classic in Australia.

Cheap wine and a three-day growth

When you’re on the booze, tidiness and keeping appearances go out the window.

I’m sitting on the beach drinkin’ rocket fuels

Australia is surrounded by beaches and there’s nothing more Australian than going down the beach and having a few.

“Star Hotel” is written about the riot that took place there on the night it was closing up for good.

And the most underrated star of the album is Mark Opitz.

Finally the band had a producer who allowed them to do what they best, which is to play and he wanted to capture that live sound and energy on record. Bob Rock had the same ideals for the “Black” album from Metallica.

The album sounded fantastic on any system or format.

Check it out.


2 thoughts on “Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Spin Series – Cold Chisel

  1. Amazing that part of there 5 week tour never to return to North America included a stop here in Thunder Bay in 1981 opening for Nugent. Sign the Crue and drop Chisel tough choice but from a NA sales respective the right call.

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