Cold Chisel

Last Stand

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Years of struggle had turned Cold Chisel into one of Australian rock's all-time great bands -- many would argue the greatest. But the years had also taken their toll and, by the early '80s, rifts had begun to drag on the band. Drummer Steve Prestwich called it quits in June 1983. Two months later, the band put out a press release saying it was disbanding and in December played its final concerts to sold-out audiences at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. The shows were filmed for the documentary Last Stand: this is the film's soundtrack and the cream of those concerts. Undoubtedly a chunk of Aussie rock history, this album also stands purely on the strength of its content. Impassioned renditions of 16 of Chisel's best numbers (three of which -- "Twentieth Century," "Flame Trees," and "Janelle" -- had not as yet been released) delivered to rabid audiences show that the guys could still get their mojo working in overdrive and that, to the end, Cold Chisel were a great live act. The highlights are numerous, but the most memorable moments are the band's timeless signature song "Khe Sanh," the rock landslide "Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)," and the singalong favorite "Choir Girl." The recording job is crystal clear, though inevitably can't fully capture the experience of being at the gig amidst the sweat and swagger. But as next best things go, this is the ticket. Barnes and the boys come out with all guns blazing and proudly parading their knockabout, working-class colors to the end. In effect, this really was Cold Chisel's last stand; though the band did re-form to record and tour in later years, it never matched those glory days again. If it were better known offshore, more critics would surely consider Last Stand among the best live albums ever. Raise your beer glass to this one.

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