Cold Chisel’s latest and other al­bum re­views

The Per­fect Crime Cold Chisel Uni­ver­sal

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Stephen Fitz­patrick

There’s a mo­ment in your life when you re­alise you’ve dis­cov­ered Cold Chisel. I don’t care when you think that mo­ment is, but at some point, it hap­pens. For me, it’s maybe about 1982 — so I’m 14 — and I’ve been work­ing my way through the record col­lec­tion of my youngest un­cle, who’s lately moved out of home in Syd­ney’s fi­bro west and gone up north to surf, as was com­mon then. He stays away; I’m wholly ab­sorbed by the won­der of this thing whose com­plex­ity I can barely com­pre­hend. It’s their sec­ond al­bum, 1979’s Break­fast at Sweet­hearts, which had con­tin­ued Don Walker’s song­writ­ing bril­liance from the band’s first, epony­mous, al­bum of a year ear­lier — even if, in sub­se­quent tellings, Sweet­hearts has been ad­judged a poor sonic ren­der­ing of what this rough mob from Ade­laide brought to Syd­ney and made their own of liv­ing a life in the then oth­er­world of Kings Cross, be­com­ing in the process one of the na­tion’s key cul­tural doc­u­men­tarists. East, of course, fol­lowed, and then Cir­cus An­i­mals, a work of rough ge­nius con­tain­ing some of what Chisel is best known for — You Got Noth­ing I Want, When the War is Over, Bow River, the sublime Let­ter to Alan — af­ter which came the frac­tured and fraught break-up al­bum, Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury, and then it was all over. Ap­par­ently. Ex­cept it wasn’t. The leg­end grew, the band’s in­ter­nal rankling eased even as the hia­tus was an overly long one, there was the 1998 re­gath­er­ing of The Last Wave of Sum­mer, and more than a decade later 2012’s No Plans, a huge na­tional tour — and it be­came ob­vi­ous Cold Chisel was some­thing more spe­cial than Aus­tralia could ever have imag­ined, even with the death dur­ing those record­ings of drum­mer Steve Prest­wich. So here we are with eighth stu­dio al­bum The Per­fect Crime — New Yorker Charley Dray­ton has re­placed Prest­wich, but the en­gine room with bassist Phil Small sounds as mighty as ever. Ian Moss pro­vides an easy re­minder of his vir­tu­osic guitar skills but, as al­ways, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s un­abashedly a rock ’n’ roll al­bum but there are the usual Chisel stylis­tic ex­cur­sions, in­clud­ing a de­light­fully kooky Latino bar band num­ber, Mex­i­can Wed­ding. Some ma­te­rial is from Walker’s solo reper­toire, in­clud­ing the brood­ing ti­tle track (“Look­ing out the east I’d say / that thun­der­head could be a thou­sand miles away / Out off the coast / Un­real”), and some dates way back: Bus Sta­tion, from 1986, is a wild disco romp fea­tur­ing some soul­ful Jimmy Barnes vo­cals and a call-out to that hum­ble Aussie del­i­cacy, the Chiko roll. And that’s the thing: Cold Chisel is as Aus­tralian as, well, the Chiko roll — or, in­deed, the an­nual De­niliquin Ute Muster and the Na­tional Rugby League grand fi­nal, both of which the band per­forms at this week­end to kick off its One Night Stand tour. At some point in your life, you re­alise you’ve dis­cov­ered Cold Chisel. It’s just a mat­ter of when.

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