1976 saw AC/DC’s first internationally-released album, “High Voltage”. The demand for Oz Rock was already on the up.
Enter Cold Chisel.
After years of hitting every place and pub in Australia and drinking those places dry with their road crew, or getting banned due to fighting, Cold Chisel finally got a record deal and released their first album on WEA/Elektra in 1978.
If you ever caught the band live, the self-titled debut sounded nothing like the band did on stage.
They also had a producer that kept telling em that live is live and the studio is the studio. They cannot intersect. Well tell that to Bob Rock who made it his mission to capture how good a band sounded live, in the studio.
Before the album was even released “Khe San” was already a crowd favourite however it was a lot faster live than the studio version. But there is something special about the slowed down studio version as well.
It’s a rocker, more STYX like with a little bit of “Evie” from Stevie Wright and “Mississippi Queen” from Mountain.
“Khe Sanh” was released as a 45 rpm single in May 1978. It captures, the despair and the anger of an Australian Vietnam war veteran. There were no parades for these guys. They came back home, hated. And the promises made by the Government to look after them never came to be.
It was banned from commercial radio as the lyrics had references of sex and drugs. Lines like these were scandalous. “And their legs were often open/But their minds were always closed”.
But a great song is never born from marketing. It’s from word of mouth.
And the Battle of Khe Sanh was fought mainly by US Marines but this didn’t matter.
The piano riff is rocking and the best part of the song is when Jimmy Barnes sings, “the last plane out of Sydney is almost gone”.
And maybe all of us were a bit damaged as well so the song resonated with a lot of people who had addictions and couldn’t make meaningful contact with woman, and the need for casual sex with East Asian women.
Home And Broken Hearted
The verse riff reminds me of AC/DC, who were influenced by Chuck Berry.
One Long Day
The bass rumbles while the piano plays a jazzy riff that reminds me of “Long Way To The Top”. And it takes a left turn when it changes to lounge rock.
Blues rock at its best
It could be a STYX or Bee Gees cut. It’s almost progressive the way Don Walker plays the piano.
Its fast and aggressive.
Almost Rose Tattoo like and when “they speak her name in cheap hotels/From Turkey to Marseille” we get an understanding as to who Daskarzine is.
Just How Many Times
Its lounge jazz blues rock, slow and relaxed. The lyrical message is more important than the rest. Barnesy is a crooner on this, an R&B style of crooner.
They never got the big break in North America that they wanted, but it’s pretty hard to sell your act when your lyrics paint a picture of Australia.
And we loved em for it.
5 thoughts on “Australian Method Series: Cold Chisel – Cold Chisel”
Good ol Cold Chisel! Still boggles my mind they played Thunder Bay and I was there! lol…this last sentence that you wrote sums it up…
“They never got the big break in North America that they wanted, but it’s pretty hard to sell your act when your lyrics paint a picture of Australia.”
U could take out CC and put The Tragically Hip in there as like CC the Hip never broke out of Canada because of that same reason….
Yeah I got that view with The Hip when Buried On Mars was doing the tandem reviews of their catalogue. A lot of their lyrics painted images of Canada in the same way Chisel did with Australia.
Pretty nice sounding stuff, I hadn’t heard anything of theirs before. Khe Sanh isn’t familiar to me though it’s apparently a very well-known song.
It’s a big deal here.
In Australia it was added to the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry of historically, culturally and aesthetically significant sound recordings.
What an an album and you’re so right about these songs shinning when played live!
One Long Day live is a killer and Youtube Daskarzine live, its so so good. I like to think of Cold Chisel as a band of five very different people musically and personalities’ that should of never worked on paper, and somehow it did