Chilly Chisel. Two phrases that’ll encourage a reverential smile from most Australians and a spontaneous outburst into music from others. Nationwide icons, music legends, pub rock poets, all becoming descriptors for a bunch of mates that emerged from tumultuous Adelaide origins, to develop into each the soundtrack to and the narrator of the Australian cultural expertise.
Chilly Chisel’s presence is so deeply ensconced in our collective consciousness, that as an individual who has referred to as Australia house for all 34 years of my life, I can’t for the life or me bear in mind how, the place or once I first heard their music. I’m not even positive my dad and mom owned any Chilly Chisel data (though I believe I can safely assume they will need to have, I imply everybody owns not less than that Chisel, better of, proper?) All that I do know is that I one way or the other know each single phrase to each single music. You want solely to stroll into any suburban pub, attend any BBQ or activate the radio, to find that I’m not alone. Chilly Chisel is omnipresent.
In some way, regardless of being so synonymous with a time and place (late ’70s /early ’80s Australia), the songs that Ian Moss, Don Walker, Jimmy Barnes, Phill Small and the late Steve Prestwich penned and carried out in the course of the golden period of Chilly Chisel, stay endlessly relatable and seemingly timeless. From ‘Flame Timber’ to ‘Khe Sanh’ to ‘Rising Solar’ to ‘When The Warfare Is Over’, ‘Bow River’ and past, these are the songs which have served as musical accompaniment to our triumphs and tribulations, our breakdowns and failures, our heartbreaks and our honeymoons, our glory days and the times we’d sooner overlook. For some they’re our true nationwide anthems, for others, they’re firm on an extended drive or an excuse to sing out of key in public. No matter they’re to you, to us all, they’re important.
Khe Sanh, Chilly Chisel (1978)
Inarguably Chilly Chisel’s most well-known music, ‘Khe Sanh’ conjures up even essentially the most docile of Aussies to embrace their interior Barnsey and belt out each phrase. There’s a bloody good purpose for that too. This Don Walker penned music is positively anthemic. From the immediately recognizable piano intro to Barnsey’s trademark soulful verse supply, the superbly timed harmonica, and naturally THAT joyous sounding main key chorus (“The final airplane out of Sydney’s virtually gone!”). It’s completely essentially the most triumphant sounding music ever written in regards to the horrors of PTSD and the infinite restlessness and displacement felt by some Vietnam veterans. It’s value noting that its deal with some lower than very best selections of coping mechanisms, (medicine, womanizing), impressed some controversy initially, with the document label reluctant to launch it as a single till their hand was compelled by recognition. However that duality of character and the juxtaposition of key and narrative, are excellent examples of why Don Walker is one among Australia’s best songwriters. In my view, it’s not Chilly Chisel’s finest music, however it’s a actually good one and within the court docket of public opinion, it’s our alternate nationwide anthem.
Breakfast at Sweethearts, Breakfast at Sweethearts (1979)
The title monitor of off Chilly Chisel’s second studio album, Breakfast at Sweethearts is an train in people-watching by Walker, solely the folks he’s watching aren’t precisely the 9-5 sorts. One of the vital immediately recognisable songs about peak-era Kings Cross ever written, Breakfast at Sweethearts combines Walker’s knack for seeing magnificence within the mundane together with his instinctive songcraft. The mixture of sluggish reggae bass and electrical piano, locking in with reverb-drenched guitars and Barnes’ contemplative vocals to create a sonic soundscape that genuinely seems like having breakfast at 6am with a hangover. Nobody has ever made consuming low cost wine out of a paper bag, when you need to be having a espresso, fairly as poetic as Walker does right here, and that capacity, to not simply write songs you hear, however songs you reside, goes on to develop into one among Chilly Chisel’s defining traits.
Rising Solar, East (1980)
Within the early years, Chilly Chisel gigs had a popularity for being wild and unruly affairs, and it’s tracks like ‘Rising Solar’ that undoubtedly impressed many to bust a transfer (or as legend might have it, a cranium or two). A rollicking rockabilly quantity and Barnes’ first solo writing credit score, ‘Rising Solar’ is powered by a continuing guitar/piano interaction and a simplistic but pressing rhythm that provides Barnes simply sufficient room to go full Barnesy. There’s a scorching solo from Ian Moss, and that refrain of “The rising solar simply stole my lady away” is simply too addictive to not be belted out. It’s ostensibly a music a couple of sure kind of heartbreak, but it surely virtually doesn’t matter, that is Chilly Chisel in ‘good time’ mode and it’s one hell of a very good time.
Choir Woman, East (1980)
Don Walker is on document as saying that ‘Choir Woman’ was a deliberate try to write down a industrial hit. He’s additionally on document as saying that the music is written about being pregnant termination. Not many individuals might make these two seemingly disparate notions coexist, however with the assistance of his Chilly Chisel bandmates (and East producer Mark Opitz), he completely nailed what he got down to obtain, with the r’n’b influenced monitor scoring Chilly Chisel their first ‘official’ hit, touchdown at #14 on the Australian charts. It’s not laborious to see why both. After Walker’s trademark electrical piano intro, ‘Choir Woman’ lets its beautiful soulful melody shine, with Barnes’ voice, positioned excessive within the combine because the monitor is pushed alongside by electrical piano and a easy bass groove, with new layers of instrumentation launched all through. There are some beautiful backing vocals and guitar traces from Ian Moss, who additionally sings the lead on the bridge in a beautiful vocal interaction with Barnes. It’s 3.13 of blue collar pop-nous and arguably a template for some Chilly Chisel hits to return.
4 Partitions, East (1980)
One other beautiful piano-led sluggish burner, ‘4 Partitions’ is among the best early examples of Chilly Chisel in bogan poet mode. A music in regards to the expertise of a prisoner within the aftermath of the riots on the Bathurst Gaol, it’s each stunning and heartbreaking. Compositionally, fairly a easy music, basically some piano, delicate guitars, handclaps and a few occasional soulful backing vocals, however the hero of ‘4 Partitions’ is its lyrical narrative. The sparsity of the musical accompaniment provides Barnes simply the correct amount of room to make us really feel each phrase. Walker’s lyrics are impressed with the opening verse (“They’re calling time for train, around her Majesty’s lodge/ The maid’ll hose the room out/ Once I’m gone/ I by no means knew such luxurious/ Earlier than my verdict fell/ 4 partitions, washbasin, jail mattress”) inserting you proper there within the cell with him. Because the music unfolds and the poor chap’s despair grows, so to does the mournfulness of Barnes’ supply, with the final verse (I can’t see/ I can’t hear/T hey’ve burnt out all the sensation/ I’ve by no means been so loopy/ and it’s simply my second 12 months/ 4 partitions, washbasin, jail mattress) completely devastating.
Bow River, Circus Animals (1982)
Selecting the important songs off of 1 essentially the most important Australian albums of all time is kind of the duty, so with my sincerest apologies to ‘You’ve Received Nothing I Need’, ‘Bow River’ will get the nod within the booty-shaking slot on Circus Animals. An absolute riot of a music, this Ian Moss written quantity is an arena-sized blues-rocker, with a kitchen sink method to instrumentation, that completely goes off on the Deni Ute Muster. Every thing that makes Chilly Chisel so enjoyable as a stay band is current on this music. Moss’ incendiary guitars, Walker’s honky-tonk pianos, Small’s rolling bass, Prestwich pounding drums and sure, Barnsey’s shrieking vocal. It’s such a very good time that you simply’d be forgiven for lacking that it’s truly fairly sensible lyrically, capturing the essence of the working man’s battle between the necessity to work and the desire to truly stay, I’m significantly keen on the couplet: “I’ve been working laborious, twelve hours a day/ And the cash I saved received’t purchase my youth once more”. Put it on, crack open a can, have a blast together with your previous man (or your interior previous man).
Without end Now, Circus Animals (1982)
The late Steve Prestwich didn’t write a variety of Chilly Chisel songs, however the ones he did write, have been usually nice, and ‘Without end Now’ is among the finest. Launched as a single in March 1982, the monitor hit #four on the Aussie charts and has gone on to develop into a staple of Chilly Chisel’s stay units. A mid-tempo melodic rocker that’s anchored by some usually impressed lead guitar enjoying by Moss, the music’s finest characteristic is absolutely the earworm of a refrain, which Barnes completely smashes. A structural departure from a lot of what Chilly Chisel offered on Circus Animals, this anthem of unrequited love, is worthy of the vocal injury you’ll do attempting to singalong.
When the Warfare is Over, Circus Animals (1982)
‘When the Warfare is Over’ is among the most incessantly lined Chilly Chisel songs by different recording artists, and it’s not laborious to know why. From the second the opening chorus of “Ain’t no person gonna steal this coronary heart away” hits, this music simply oozes emotion and sentimentality. One other Prestwich written music, ‘When the Warfare is Over’ is a fantastically composed energy ballad with a intentionally non-typical music construction. A music about timeless, albeit probably non-mutual love (a definitive theme to a lot of Prestwich’s writing) ‘When The Warfare is Over’ is concurrently heartbreaking and heartwarming. It shouldn’t work, however within the palms of Chilly Chisel, it does. Regardless of initially peaking at #25 on the charts, it did ultimately take the #1 spot, due to Australian Idol’s Cosima De Vito, a indisputable fact that very similar to the music has been identified to make even essentially the most battle hardened barking spider a little bit teary eyed!
Saturday Night time, Twentieth Century (1984)
Probably the most oddball second on this record, ‘Saturday Night time’ is a delightfully off-kilter rock music with an infectious hook, that may get caught in your head for days on finish. Ostensibly a music in regards to the aftermath of a Saturday evening out in Kings Cross, it has additionally (fairly fairly) been interpreted as being Walker’s metaphorical ‘goodbye’ to the chaos of life in Chilly Chisel. Twentieth Century is an album recorded by a burnt-out band, but, it options a few of their best songs and most obtuse concepts and ‘Saturday Night time’ is the quintessential instance of that weirdness. Loneliness and longing has by no means sounded so invigorating because it does right here, with Phil Small’s bassline laying the grounding for the vocal tandem of Moss and Barnes to dazzle with. Moss’ verse vocals give the music a Police-esque vibe and Barnes; rock outbursts make sure you don’t overlook that it’s Chilly Chisel. There’s some superior saxophone from an area busker, some crowd noise from an precise Saturday evening in Kings Cross, and just about the rest they may consider. The weirdest Chilly Chisel hit ever.
THE MOST ESSENTIAL COLD CHISEL SONG EVER IS:
Flame Timber, Twentieth Century (1984)
You thought I’d left this out didn’t you? That was by no means going to occur.
In my humble opinion ‘Flame Timber’ is among the best songs written by any Australian artist. It’s irrefutably the important Chilly Chisel music and one among my favorite songs of all time. Every thing about this music is so completely executed. From the music construction to the instrumental performances, to Barnes’ vocal supply and ESPECIALLY the lyrics. ‘Flame Timber’ is a flawless music and it appears so becoming that it got here into existence on the finish of Chilly Chisel’s preliminary run as a result of it sounds just like the end result of all the things they’d realized. Penned by Prestwich, ‘Flame Timber’ is to me what residing in Australia appears like.
From the second one other excellent Walker piano intro provides strategy to Barnsey’s opening traces, you might be immersed in a world so fantastically, hauntingly acquainted, that you would be able to’t assist however attempt to attain out and contact or possibly even hug the narrator. The references are so particular, so inherently small-town Australia, that it’s virtually too relatable. It’s as if Chilly Chisel one way or the other captured everything of our cultural expertise and distilled it into music.
The utilisation of the ‘Flame Tree’, a tree native to the subtropical areas of the East Coast, provides specificity to the geography, however not a lot as to take away it from common relatability. You may stay in Broome or Glenorchy or Frankston (as I did) and nonetheless join with the expertise of this music. The truth that I can barely ever make it by this music with out shedding a tear, one which’s seemingly neither blissful nor unhappy, however one way or the other nostalgic in nature (and that was BEFORE Sarah Blasko went and lined it for Little Fish, completely destroying any hope I ever had of merely simply listening to the music, as a substitute of residing it) speaks a lot to the facility of Chilly Chisel as storytellers. Solely Chilly Chisel might take a music about longing and heartbreak, and switch it into one thing so really timeless.
Chilly Chisel’s ‘Blood Moon’ tour continues this week. Remaining dates and particulars right here.