Cold Chisel


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June through August of 1980 saw Cold Chisel take to the road for its hugely successful "Youth in Asia" tour of Australia. The band was at the peak of its powers and launching from all silos, and it shows on this 17-track, two-disc set, recorded at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney on August 29 and 30. Producer Mark Opitz, who felt this was the best of the Chisel albums he'd worked on, claimed that he didn't put in a single overdub -- a clear indication of how hot the band's chops were. Cold Chisel was touring in support of its newly released breakthrough album, East, which had burned up the Aussie charts in short order, and seven of that disc's songs are performed here. Highlights from Chisel's first two studio albums are also featured, as well as three covers, including a blazing rendition of the Jerry Lee Lewis standard "Don't Let Go" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Long as I Can See the Light." The only question mark in the set is the inclusion of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" -- a song the Chisels always seemed to enjoy playing. Though proficiently delivered, it's an unnecessary, oversized bite. But then again, when your stocks are soaring you can afford to indulge yourself a little. Seven of the numbers on Swingshift also appear on Cold Chisel's farewell live album, Last Stand, but there's no redundancy in these snapshots from different eras. Highlights are many, but it's hard to go past the band's signature number "Khe Sanh," the dark and frantic "Conversations," the beefed-up rockabilly of "Rising Sun," and the rock & roll meteor "Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)." Great support work from saxophonist Billy Rodgers and harmonica player Dave Blight add extra spice to several of the songs. Swingshift was an instant number one, platinum-certified hit in Australia, further enlarging the Cold Chisel aura. As for the album title, the band claimed it was a reference to the midnight-to-dawn shift that staff in mental asylums dread: the hours when the crazies go crazy. Somehow that seems very apt for these wild colonial boys.

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