Cold Chisel – The Live Tapes Vol 3

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Pub-rockers let rip on third archive release

Cold Chisel’s performance at The Many Vale Hotel on 7th June 1980 has been something of a holy grail for collectors, who have had to contend themselves with a one hour video that was broadcast on TV to promote the release of their third album East. But little did many fans know that there was so much more to this gig than what has now been preserved on DVD. A whole lot more as it turns out.

The Live Tapes Vol 3 captures the band at its prime, in front of an audience which numbered less than a thousand. At this point, Chisel were still touring along the east coast of Australia, playing in every pub and venue, often seven days a week, just as they had always done, and on this particular night, the group were absolutely on fire.

Only recently was the original 2-inch 16 track tape discovered, meaning that finally the entire show can be enjoyed in all its sweaty, vodka-fuelled glory.

The band kicks things off with a tight and muscular “Standing On The Outside,” a song off their new album, and one which few in the audience would have likely been familiar with. “Home And Broken Hearted” and “Juliet,” from their first album, are no less rousing, while Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ “Shakin’ All Over” is given a pub-rock workout. “Choir Girl,” also off East, is delivered in a tender and thoughtful fashion, before pounding into the listener’s skull with a formidable “Conversations.”

Ian Moss unleashes his inner jazz-rock on “Never Before,” one of the most underappreciated numbers from East, followed by a positively full on “My Turn To Cry,” on which Jim Barnes is in fine vocal form throughout. They turn the volume down on the reggae-oriented “Best Kept Lies,” another Ian Moss sung gem from their third album, then launch into a blistering “Shipping Steel,” on which the whole group sound as though they’re about to crash through the stage. But lest all the ear-shattering rock ‘n’ roll might want your girlfriend to find the nearest exit, the pop friendly “My Baby” (sung by Moss) is guaranteed to keep her by your side.

The second CD opens with the rollicking rockabilly of “Rising Sun,” then an electric “Breakfast At Sweethearts,” a song they must have played a hundred times, though still made it sound fresh, as Chisel also do on an outstanding version of “One Long Day,” proving that Ian Moss was and remains one of the finest blues-rock guitarists Australia has ever produced. Now tell me, how many songs with a line like “I had a friend, I heard she died/On a needle she was crucified” would be played on popular radio nowadays, and get into the top 5? “Cheap Wine” is a classic slice of Oz rock and a window into a world that no longer exists, where “sitting on the beach drinking rocket fuel” and not having a telephone was something to aspire to.

“Khe Sanh” is as excellent as ever, and full of vigour, despite how many times they must have performed it, before blowing away the crowd with a stellar “Star Hotel.” Although all of these songs are well known among fans today, I’m sure that those in attendance on this night, even if they were hearing them for the first time, would have nonetheless been swept up by the sheer energy Cold Chisel created.

The maelstrom continues with a spirited “Merry Go Round,” from their second album, then a cover of Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” a tune Chisel had played numerous times over the years, and one which Barnes’ voice was well suited to, stretching his vocal range to the limit. “Tomorrow,” another East track, is given a rare outing, and a fine example of the band’s ability to create light and shade, meaning that they weren’t just your atypical dumb-as-dog-shit rock group. Far from it in fact.

The final number, “Goodbye (Astrid, Goodbye)” is a pearler, and has to be seen in order to get the proper experience. At this point Barnes is literally ga ga, having drunk so much vodka that he can hardly even stand up, much less sing. Yet still, he manages to pull it off with aplomb, as the rest of the band pound away at their instruments as if it’s their last night on mother earth.

For Cold Chisel to perform the majority of East meant that they were obviously confident in what they were doing. The band’s belief in itself had perhaps never been higher, and this third instalment of their archives, establishes that fact and more. Live Tapes Vol 3 is essential listening for any long-time fan, young or old.