“My Criminal Record” is studio album number 18 for a Jimmy Barnes. When you add his output with Cold Chisel, his career is massive.
Released on 31 May 2019.
With this album, he became the artist with the most chart-topping albums in Australia with 12 number 1 albums, overtaking U2 and Madonna.
The band for the album is his live band, made up of Jimmy Barnes on vocals, Daniel Wayne Spencer and Davey Lane on guitars, son in law Ben Rodgers on bass, Clayton Doley on keyboards, and son Jackie Barnes with Warren Trout on drums and percussion.
Lending a hand in the song writing department is his Cold Chisel bandmate Don Walker, who co-wrote six of the songs, country artist Troy Cassar-Daley chimes in with two songs, Chis Cheney from “The Living End” contributes a song, Mark Lizotte (otherwise known as Diesel) contributes a song, as well as others, plus there is a John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen cover.
Writing for the album began in 2015, but once his books came out, “Working Class Boy” and “Working Class Man”, well his career took a different turn and suddenly he was a bestselling author, doing speaking tours with music in between and creating documentaries based on the books.
My Criminal Record
Written by Jimmy Barnes and Don Walker.
It’s a slower bluesy tune with the piano setting the mood.
Well I came from a broken home
Writing his books has given Jimmy a different opportunity to write differently and approach different subject matters. If you’ve read “Working Class Boy” you’ll know how broken that home was.
The fact that he made it to 12 number one albums in Australia is amazing.
I keep it locked away somewhere, I know
In a cellar that I call my youth
It’s my criminal record
It’s the truth
It was a burden he carried for a long time. The ghosts of his youth growing up in Elizabeth.
Shutting Down Our Town
Written by Troy Cassar-Daley, this is a great country rock song. It could appear on a Springsteen or Petty album and not sound out of place.
This used to be a place where a man could find some work / Put together Holdens or a foundry job at worst
The car making facilities in Australia are all gone, transported overseas because it’s cheaper. And a lot of towns have suffered this kind of fate around the world in the corporations quest for profits and progress.
Its also autobiographical as all the men who worked at the factory went missing from their homes on payday.
I’m In A Bad Mood
Written by Barnes and Walker it’s got another blues noir soul like groove.
I got me a car but I lost my keys
Got me a girl that I can’t please
Sometimes things don’t roll as they should.
Stolen Car (The Road’s on Fire, Pt. 1)
Written by Barnes and Walker, it’s a smoldering blues cut in the verses before it rocks out with a lot of soul in the Pre Chorus and Chorus.
My life is like a stolen car, out of control
I’ve got no destination, I lost my soul
Great metaphor to sum up his life.
My Demon (God Help Me)
Written by Barnes, Cassar-Daley and bassist Ben Rodgers.
A Blues stomp groove crashes in after the steel guitar Intro which reminds me of “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle but different.
And my demon he was patient
He just waits till I had nowhere else to turn
And he knew my situation
He was laughing as I burned
It showcases that our predicaments in life are down to our own choices. For Barnesy, his Demon didn’t have to do anything, as Barnesy was pretty good at doing shit to himself.
Working Class Hero
Written by John Lennon.
Keep you doped with religion, sex, and T.V.
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I see
The song is political, a criticism on the difference between social classes and how the working class individuals are being processed into the middle classes, into the “machine”.
Belvedere and Cigarettes
Written by Harley Webster, Jade MacRae and Rodgers.
Belvedere and cigarettes, I’m bleeding myself dry
Sometimes that glass of alcohol is always a friend when your down and out.
I Won’t Let You Down
Written by Chris Cheney from “The Living End”.
It’s a great ballad in which the verses deal with alcoholism/partying and the Chorus deals with making a promise to a special someone that they will change and not let them down.
Written by Barnes and Walker.
She’s a stargazer
Always looking at the sky
And she don’t even look up to me
When she’s on her back at night
A simple laid back tune in which the woman in his life is not paying attention to him or their relationship (hence the staring at the stars).
Money and Class
Written by Barnes, Walker and Rodgers.
I could fight, I could drink, I could shout, I could sing
I could light up a party but I didn’t fit in
Every door that was closed was a door that I had to kick in
Drink, bash and smash your way to the top in this country blues rock tune.
Stolen Car (The Road’s on Fire, Pt. 2)
Written by Barnes and Walker.
It’s a faster take but the same attitude and spirit is still there.
If Time Is on My Side
Written by Mark Lizotte, otherwise known as Diesel or Johnny Diesel, this song wouldn’t be out of place on a Springsteen or Petty album.
The Chorus is loud and you singalong to it. It also reminds me of “Ride The Night Away”.
People come and go
Just like dust in wind they’re blown
As long as I am standing here
I’ll never let you go
That’s life in a nutshell, people would come and go but in the end, it’s just you and your partner.
Tougher Than the Rest
A Bruce Springsteen cut and a fitting song to sum up Barnes and his resilience to life and love.
And that’s Jimmy Barnes in 2019, a Blues Rocker with a little bit of Soul and a little bit of Country.