Cold Chisel


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Cold Chisel's following had been steadily building for a number of years when their third -- and slickest to date -- album, East, broke them through to a wider audience in 1980. More commercial without compromising on the rawness of their roots, the band hit pay dirt with a clutch of songs it seemed everybody could get into. The virtuosity of the Chisel's musical abilities still comes through on songs that were, nevertheless, compact enough to be radio-ready. The up-tempo loner anthem "Standing on the Outside," the enchanting ballad and breakthrough single "Choirgirl," and the tongue-in-cheek "Ita" all had the hooks to land a singalong audience. On "Star Hotel," the sonic fury of the chorus captures the essence of the subject matter: a wild street battle between angry pub patrons and police that took place in the city of Newcastle, Australia, in September 1979. And the customary, all-out rockers are here, as well: "Rising Sun" (singer Jimmy Barnes' love-lost song about his Asian girlfriend) and the rousing closer "My Turn to Cry." As always, the rhythm section gymnastics of drummer Steven Prestwich and bassist Phil Small provide an alternately swift and delicate undercurrent for Ian Moss' guitar heroics, Don Walker's exuberant piano playing, and Barnes' banshee wails. Walker still holds down the job of head songwriter, but the duties are more shared on this album: five of the 12 tracks were written by the other members of the band with Barnes penning two and Prestwich, Small, and Moss one each. The album peaked at number two on the Australian national charts and even broke into the Billboard 200. With East, Cold Chisel signaled that they had moved on up without selling out. The glory days had come at last.

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