Cold Chisel

Breakfast at Sweethearts

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Look no further than Aussie quintet Cold Chisel's second album, 1979's Breakfast at Sweethearts, along with the band's eponymous debut disc of the previous year, for the material that took them from little-knowns to mighty pub rock monsters and beyond. In fact, the songs on this album may comprise the best set of any of the band's non-compilation studio discs. But alas, it is a masterpiece tainted by a poor recording job. Cuts like the mean-streets stomper "Conversations," the thudding "Shipping Steel," and the drug-paranoia song "The Door" contain little of the venom they spewed forth when played live. Nevertheless, even the lo-fi subjugation of the numbers cannot scuttle the album. Don Walker's songwriting -- and his storycrafting around local references -- could engage a listener underwater. With the volume wound well up on a decent stereo, the old-style rocker "I'm Gonna Roll Ya" and the band's blazing showstopper "Goodbye Astrid" will still go awfully close to putting cracks in the walls, while the earthy poetry and delicate piano of "Plaza" shiver the spine. Then there's the windswept "Dresden," which unveils imagery of epic proportions: "Old Dresden burns above the breeze/The traveler is on his knees/He watches sledge-wings dip and play/So far above the holy throne." Sadly, like a faded Rembrandt, this album isn't quite the original article, but it is still a must-have for anyone who appreciates gutsy rock & roll artistry.

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