Cold Chisel

The Last Wave of Summer

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With their 1998 comeback disc, The Last Wave of Summer -- their first album of new material since 1984's Twentieth Century -- Aussie rock legends Cold Chisel proved that they still had "the stuff." A tad shy of the standard of their heyday albums of the '70s and '80s, Summer is still formidable rock & roll. As the band's first release in the CD age and, at just under an hour running time, LWOS was considerably longer than their previous studio albums. Hence the makeup is a little different. There is more down-tempo and lighter fare here, which shifts the feel from the usual short sharp-shock of a Chisel disc to a quite different type of listening experience. Less visceral; more cerebral. Also, this was an older, more mature Chisel -- accomplished songsmiths and musicians with nothing left to prove. Consequently, The Last Wave of Summer has the trappings of a more patient album than past efforts, and that comes out of the speakers loud and clear. Still, Chisel being Chisel, they avoid sounding clinical. The blood and thunder are still present, and Exhibit A is the customary, blasting-cap rocker that ignites every CC album, in this case "Yakuza Girls." Few bands have ever rocked as hard as Cold Chisel, and this song is one of their most raucous -- which is saying a lot. Blazing rock & roll with typically high-raunch lyrics. There's more grit to be found in songs like the AC/DC nod "Baby's on Fire" (an original number, not to be confused with the excellent Brian Eno song or others of the same name). Or the sassy, bump 'n' grind of "Pretty Little Thing," which Jimmy Barnes sings like a banshee with its balls in a vice. In fact, Barnes' razor-wire voice has never sounded better or bitten harder than on Summer. There's no question that his delivery sparks the entire disc. There's a shade less catchiness to this album than, say, Breakfast at Sweethearts or East, but it still has a bunch more kick-and-punch than most of the rock & roll albums of its time. When you've set the bar so high, it's hard to clear it every time. But The Last Wave of Summer is still primo stuff.

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