Ask someone from outside Australia to name an Australian rock band, and the most likely answer would be "AC/DC
". However, within Australia, there is one band that is at least as revered as "Akka-Dakka". That band is Cold Chisel.
Cold Chisel were formed in the 70s, during Australia's pub rock boom, which also produced the aforementioned AC/DC, among others. They were fronted by a young man called Jimmy Barnes, with Don Walker writing the bulk of their songs. Even without huge amounts of support from radio or TV in their early days, the band garnered a large following via the pub circuit. In fact, it would be fair to describe them as the definitive Aussie pub rock band. However, despite their popularity in Australia, international success eluded them.
Cold Chisel broke up in 1983, but frontman Jimmy Barnes went on to a solo career, becoming even bigger than he was as a member of Cold Chisel. The band regrouped in 1998 for the album The Last Wave of Summer
and a national tour, and still occasionally comes together again.
Cold Chisel contains examples of the following tropes:
- Album Title Drop: "Houndog" for Circus Animals.
- Banned in Every State Except South Australia: "Khe Sanh" was banned from airplay when it was first released.
- Breakup Breakout: As big as Cold Chisel were, Jimmy Barnes was bigger when he went solo.
- Fan Nickname: "Chisel" (Note for non-Aussies: it is pronounced "Chizz-UL".)
- Cover Version: The band frequently performed Knockin' On Heaven's Door as part of their live set.
- Epic Rocking: most live performances of Bow River.
- Genre Roulette: a limited example on Twentieth Century which featured twelve songs that were in the classic Chisel sound - and a reggae number penned by Barnes ("No Sense").
- Hot Blooded: Jimmy Barnes
- Intercourse with You: "Hold Me Tight"
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Letter to Alan"
- Mondegreen: The line in Khe Sanh is "The last plane out of Sydney's almost gone", not "The last train". (How are you supposed to take a train from Sydney to Hong Kong anyway?)
- "Cheap Wine and a three-legged goat"
- Non Appearing Title: "Letter to Alan"
- Shout Out: the cover of East was a recreation of Jacques-Louis David's 1793 painting The Death of Marat.
- Signature Song: "Khe Sanh".
- Step Up to the Microphone: Guitarist Ian Moss does lead vocals on a few songs, usually one or two each album, and sometimes split vocal duties with Barnes, as on "Saturday Night". He also filled in whenever Jimmy Barnes quit the band. His "Bow River" was a staple of the band's live set. They sound pretty similar, with Moss having a slightly lower register and a more narrow range.
- Take That: "You Got Nothing I Want" is an angry rejection of American music labels that wouldn't accept the band as they were.
- That's All, Folks!: The band's final single, "Saturday Night", was released in early 1984, three months after its first breakup. In the words of composer Don Walker: "The band I'd been in for ten years was breaking up. I think it's just a 'kissing all that goodbye and moving on into the unknown' song."