Starting as heavy metal covers band, Orange, in 1973, Cold Chisel changed their sound, shifted its line-up a bit, relocated from Adelaide then to Melbourne, and inevitably to Sydney before being signed by Warner and recording their debut album in 1978.
Little did anyone know at the time that this workingman's pub rock band would become one of the seminal, pivotal, and definitive Australian rock bands.
In the years since, history has shown that Cold Chisel is generally a band that's better enjoyed live than in the studio but their raw energy and bluesy swagger shines through even on their studio releases.
In the years paying their dues in the pub and club circuits of Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney keyboardist/organist Don Walker had emerged as the band's primary songwriter. So it's little surprise that all but one of the songs on Cold Chisel's debut were written solely by Walker (he and vocalist Jimmy Barnes collaborated on Juliet).
The nice thing about this album not being recorded until about five years after the band's inception-- many of the kinks were worked out. Jimmy Barnes had left and rejoined the band several times due to the somewhat volatile relationship with his bandmates. Being a Scot his relationship with Liverpool born drummer Steven Prestwich was particularly heated. Barnes absences in the band's beginnings also allowed guitarist, Ian Moss, to exercise his vocal chops as he often took over on vocals during Barnes' absences from the band.
Going into the studio to record this debut, the kinks were for the most part smoothed over, the material was strong as some of it had been performed in the club circuits over the years and there was a tightness and raw energy in the band's sound that gave them instant appeal across a broad spectrum of the population.
From the opening notes of Juliet to the closing notes of Just How Many Times the band is firing on all cylinders. You can feel your feet sticking to the stale beer soaked floors, see the paint peeling off the walls, smell the acrid ammonia stench emenating from the hallway where the restrooms lurk on every blues-tinged hard rocking note they play.
While Jimmy Barnes handles most of the vocals with his gritty vodka drenched swagger (reminiscent of a cross between AC/DC's Bon Scott and Brian Johnson) Ian Moss does contribute his considerably smoother vocals to One Long Day and Rosaline which keeps the album's vocals consistently interesting. There's not a throwaway track on this release, although admittedly other than the live staple Home and Brokenhearted and the Vietnam anthem, Khe Sanh the material on Cold Chisel's debut is not as recognizable as what would come on later releases.
While this may not be the definitive Cold Chisel album, it does show the band in their somewhat humble beginnings. And the great thing about this band is that they never lost their swagger, drive, or energy. To hear them from the beginning is a real treat that should be enjoyed and savored.
Cold Chisel (official website)
Cold Chisel (wikipedia)
Jimmy Barnes (official website)
Jimmy Barnes (wikipedia)
Ian Moss (official website)
Ian Moss (wikipedia)
Don Walker (official website)
Don Walker (wikipedia)
Steve Prestwich (official website)
Steve Prestwich (wikipedia)
Phil Small (wikipedia)