Released to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Cold Chisel’s last official album in 1984, Teenage Love Affair is a collection of demos and leftovers recorded between 1976 and 1983. The liner notes don’t exactly give much away in terms of information, apart from where and when the songs were recorded. This lack of insight owes itself to the fact that the band members themselves have confessed to possessing little if any recollection of what they’d put to tape.
“Hands Out of my Pocket” is an outtake circa East, and is probably the most polished track here. Everyone is in perfect form, and by the end you’ll have felt like you’ve just run the four minute mile.
“Nothing But You” is clearly in the demo stage, but already sounds like a hit, if they’d have wanted it to be, and proves that Steve Prestwich still had a few pop gems up his sleeve.
“When the Sun Goes Down” dates from January 1983, and shows the group trying out new directions.
“Suicide Sal” is a brisk hard rock number about a butch transvestite. It’s the second song written by Barnes on the album (“Hand Out of my Pocket” being the other), revealing that he was obviously a bit more productive than fans might have thought.
Only Don Walker could have penned a tune like “It Aint Wrong”, which is almost like a slowed down “Khe Sanh”. Unfinished, yet gorgeous nonetheless.
And just in case you might have fallen asleep, the title track will wake you up faster than a cup of instant coffee with a drop of speed. “Teenage Love Affair” is a full on lengthy exercise in the vein of early Zeppelin, and harkens back to their pub-rock days.
Recorded during the same sessions which yielded “Nothing But You”, “Monica” could easily have come from East, on which bosom it would have nestled perfectly. Ian Moss adds some latin-tinged colouring, while Prestwich shows off his best John Densmore. Although considering the coke-fuelled monster that was Circus Animals, it’s no surprise they left it on the shelf. Too pop in other words.
In “Mona and the Preacher” we hear how Chisel would have sounded when playing smoky pubs and sticky carpet venues. Why they never sought to professionally record it for their first album is a mystery.
“Drinkin’ In Port Lincoln” is another early song which harkens back to their Adelaide years, playing in the sorts of pubs whose binge drinking patrons often made the Vikings look like amateurs.
“Payday in a Pub” is an East outtake, where Barnes betrays his love of ‘50’s rock and roll.
“Metho Blues” is another socially reflective piece by Don Walker, concerned with deros roaming Kings Cross begging for cents.
If there’s one song that was worthy of pursuing to its fullest, it’s “Yesterdays”, a bitter diatribe on a relationship gone sour, and perhaps society as a whole. Moss’s acerbic guitar adds bite behind Barnes’s mordant vocals. One of the best songs they never brought into full fruition.
Next we have “Notion for You”, a Phil Small number which was tried out while recording Circus Animals. The song has ‘single’ written all over it, but I can understand the band’s reason for rejecting it in favour of the ultimate creations they chose.
“F-111” was publicly touted by the band as a future single, but never materialised. But here it is. Whether what we’re listening to now is a demo or the finished artefact is hard to tell.
One more Circus Animals outtake, “A Little Bit of Daylight” would later turn up on Jim Barnes’s first solo album albeit in very different form. Here it’s played at a faster pace, with Moss on slide.
“The Party’s Over” draws the curtain down in a befittingly sombre tone, as if to evoke a sense of reflection in the listener. This is one of the few songs on this collection the band played regularly, and can be found on the live double LP Swingshift.
Ultimately this is a flawed yet fascinating compendium from the band’s golden period, and a long overdue archival insight into what was being recorded during and in between their albums. It is also an overdue thank you to the band’s devotees, who cherish their music not only out of love and respect, but because their songs will always be a storyboard to their humble lives.