Cold Chisel

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About Cold Chisel

Few Australian rock bands are as successful or adored as the Adelaide-formed Cold Chisel. The group rose to prominence in the late ’70s and early ’80s on the basis of heart-on-sleeve pub rock with anthemic choruses and socially conscious lyrics, capturing youthful striving and angst via piano-driven soul ballads (“My Baby,” “Choirgirl”) and harder-edged blues rockers such as “Goodbye (Astrid, Goodbye).” Cold Chisel coalesced in 1973 and initially favored a sound indebted to hard rock and heavy metal. Yet the band—whose most successful lineup included vocalist Jimmy Barnes, guitarist Ian Moss, bassist Phil Small, drummer Steve Prestwich, and pianist Don Walker—spent the next few years refining their approach. The time was well spent: With empathetic lyrics that captured a post-Vietnam War generational zeitgeist, their Creedence Clearwater Revival-reminiscent 1978 debut single, “Khe Sanh,” became their signature song. This laid the groundwork for 1980’s multiplatinum breakthrough East (featuring the R&B-influenced hit “Cheap Wine”) and the chart-topping 1982 LP Circus Animals. The band broke up in 1983, and Barnes established a successful solo career; Cold Chisel were inducted into the prestigious ARIA Hall of Fame a decade later and reformed in 1997. Sporadic touring and new albums (including 2019’s Blood Moon) followed over the next few decades. Although the band have weathered sad moments, such as Prestwich’s 2011 death from a brain tumor, the core quartet remain together and their songs continue to reach new generations of fans.

Adelaide, Australia
September 1973
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