Earlier this year, we reviewed the new album from an Australian band called Faceless Mirror. It turned out to be a complete gem of an album and one that we loved listening to. (Our review here).
In the latest instalment of our Why I Love column, we welcome Dean Macaw from Faceless Mirror to the site to write about a band he loves.
He has chosen a fellow Australian band that might be new to a lot of people; the pub rock band, Cold Chisel.
Do you sometimes feel as though you have something special that you would love to share and introduce to the world? Something that you feel privileged to have, and sit back and wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t recognise this? We do, and it is called Cold Chisel, or as us Aussies like to call them – Chisel.
We, as musicians, grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and had a love for rock with substance – Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Cream, Hendrix, Skynyrd, Neil Young, and all of those amazing artists that gave you those inspirational feelings that never leave, no matter how many times you listen to them. Cold Chisel were up there with the best.
I first ‘really’ heard Chisel, in mid-eighties, after the band disbanded. A mate invited me over to watch a video of their last concert at the Sydney entertainment centre called; The Last Stand. I had just started to teach myself guitar at the time. What I witnessed that night changed me. It was full throttle rock n roll in front of a 20,000+ crowd.
Fuelled by cocaine and vodka, the intensity was like nothing I had seen before. No gimmicks, just five guys playing exceptionally well, and hard. Saying that, they could then bring the whole thing down to just a piano and electric guitar version of the classic Georgia On My Mind’ – but still had a blistering solo in it that had more intensity and feel that I had ever seen or heard as a budding guitar player.
Cold Chisel’s songs were uniquely Australian, and we could relate to the places and the stories they sang about. They were like no other. No set formula, and never really revealed their individual influences, which were crossed over from English hard rock – Zeppelin, Purple, Free, to rockabilly, to country, and to blues and jazz.
Fronted by legendary Jimmy Barnes (Barnsey), who had joined them as a 16 year old trouble kid, that came to Australia from Scotland as a wee boy. Barnsey’s voice was gravelly, and sounded as though he was screaming for air, but then could hit jazz/blues notes at perfect pitch. His awesome vocal power and range would make Robert Plant at his peak bow to him.
Ian Moss (Mossy) is the lead guitarist and shared main vocals. His voice; smooth as silk and was totally opposite to Barney’s. This made the harmonies so unique, as well as added to the versatility of the band. As a guitarist, Mossy is an Aussie legend and guitar God! If he was born anywhere else but Australia, he would be considered a God like the Gilmour’s and Clapton’s. He has a feel in his fingers that just nails and moves people emotionally. I once read that Joe Walsh (The Eagles) said that Ian Moss was the best he had ever seen. I agree! He is the real deal.
With five musicians in the band, each one wrote songs, four fifths of the band could sing lead vocals, and all five had a number one hit credited to them. But the real secret weapon is, who is now regarded as Australia’s greatest songwriter – Don Walker.
Don was the main song writer and keyboard player. He wrote hit after hit. Songs that got stuck into the Australia psyche such as Khe Sanh and Flame Trees. You cannot play a gig in Australia, without punters wanting these songs. Faceless Mirror’s singer/songwriter, Dave Cavanagh, grew up just down the road from Don in a small country town called Grafton in Northern New South Wales, Australia. In ’76 Dave had the opportunity as a young bloke to support Chisel and play some of his originals. When finished, Don Walker came up and complimented him on the songs, and said that he had a great swag of songs, and he should keep it us. That was the moment Dave decided that was what he was going to do with his life. – Write songs.
Cold Chisel were the hardest work band in Australia and probably the world, doing the same pubs and clubs as AC/DC were doing around the same time. These were not 45 minute, one set gigs, but three to four hours of playing in sweaty low to middle class blue collar pubs.
In their first ten years they played almost 1500 gigs. This band went against the grain; they were wild in every sense. On and off the stage. For example, No other artist was ever allowed to play live on the Countdown Music Show, except for one – Chisel. This only ever happened once, when they decided to let Chisel play live at the awards. Chisel absolutely trashed the show and stage. They wrote a special song that they broke into had a shot at the media magazine who hosts and sponsors the show.
We have been very blessed that they decided to reunite and continue to record and tour. Still in their 60’s they rock and show young band how to rock hard.
If you haven’t experienced Cold Chisel, another Aussie Icon Molly Meldrum used to say – do yourself a favour. Search them out and watch. If you love melodic hard rock the crosses over, then Cold Chisel are the real deal.
Many thanks to Dean and Faceless Mirror for sharing their love of Cold Chisel.
Check out Faceless Mirror’s video for Bring It Back Home, filmed and put together whilst in lockdown.
You can read more from the Why I Love archive here.