The Live Tapes – Vol 5 – Live At The Bondi Lifesaver
Captured on Friday, 29 February 1980 just 3 days before they began recording their breakthrough album, East
The legendary Cold Chisel have unearthed a fierce live recording from deep in their archives. Captured on two multitrack tapes on a Friday night at the arse end of February 1980, after a blinding 43 shows over 56 days, it showcases the five-piece band at a pivotal moment – just 3 days before they entered Paradise Studio in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo to record their breakthrough album East.
The 2 inch tapes had sat completely untouched in the band’s archive for just over 40 years. Nobody had listened to them because everybody forgot they existed. When they were unearthed earlier this year it started a long chain of events that will come to fruition on 11 December 2020 when The Live Tapes Vol 5 – Live at the Bondi Lifesaver is released on vinyl, CD, as a digital download, and across all streaming services.
The two tapes were sent to sound engineer Phil Punch to transfer to digital so the band could hear what was captured 40 years ago, but on examining the tapes Punch said that before they could be played, they needed to be baked in an ‘audio oven’. They were sent away to a Turtle Rock mastering, baked twice, and sent back to Punch. Punch said that too much oxide had built up around the tapes and that they would need to be baked again. The tapes went into the oven again and then sent back to Punch but he was still not happy so he cut each of the bulky masters in two and had the four ‘half-tapes’ baked again. He then finally set about transferring them to digital, stopping after each song to wipe the tapes and machines clean of all the primordial ooze (which seemed particularly appropriate for recordings made at the notoriously grimy Bondi Lifesaver). This painstaking, labour of love took 6 weeks.
The files were then sent to Cold Chisel’s longtime producer, Kevin Shirley, who did a quick comp mix of the set to see if the show was any good. What came back gobsmacked the normally hard-to-impress band. The Bondi Lifesaver was the band’s de facto home and the band clearly loved the venue, playing there with kinetic speed and verve, tearing blistering holes through the legendary bar.
Kevin Shirley was given the green light to bring his trusted ears to properly mix the live recording, which frontman Jimmy Barnes says, “might be our live best recording ever.”
Of particular interest to Cold Chisel fans is hearing the 7 East songs in their pre-studio form (Choirgirl had been released as a single in late 1979). Some songs were still coming together, only 3 days prior to the album recordings; parts were still being written and a couple of sections were ad-libbed. Others (Standing On The Outside and Tomorrow) reveal substantially different arrangements to what the band subsequently crafted with East producer Mark Opitz. “It’s great to hear this earlier arrangement of Tomorrow. We re-worked it with Mark Opitz – and he brought a great pop discipline to the album recording sessions. But I do like this version,” smiles songwriter and piano player, Don Walker.
Another then-new song is Jimmy Barnes‘ My Turn To Cry, the first single fromLive at The Bondi Lifesaver, and it’s delivered here with raw, unhinged power and emotion. “In 1980, we were fighting fit and hungry, playing every show like it was our last – and often it almost was,” laughed Barnes recently, when recounting the times. “We were still playing pubs, with the audience spilling onto the stage and the band spilling into the audience. I was living just around the corner from the Lifesaver – and probably half the audience ended-up back at mine.“
The whole band is captured in killer form on Live at the Bondi Lifesaver. “I can’t believe Steve and Phil’s playing” says guitarist Ian Moss referencing the band’s bass player Phil Small and their late drummer Steve Prestwich. “They set the whole tone here – we’re just trying to keep up. Jimmy is also in incredible form, wailing and nailing everything.“
In addition to the East songs, Cold Chisel tear through songs that were already becoming classics: Khe Sanh, One Long Day, Merry-Go-Round and a steamrolling take on Shipping Steel; some rarely heard gems: Rosaline, the never-before-physically-released The Dummy; and five cover songs including Johnny Kidd‘s Shakin’ All Over and a never-before-released take on The Yardbirds‘ The Nazz Are Blue.
From this incredible live recording in February 1980 to their phenomenal sold-out national “Blood Moon” Tour dates in early 2020, Cold Chisel’s longevity is a testament to the special connection between the band, their songs and their legion of die-hard fans. Earlier this week Cold Chisel revealed that ongoing connection, scoring two ARIA Award Nominations for Best Rock Album(Blood Moon) and Best Australian Live Act (Blood Moon Tour 2020), withKevin Shirley also getting a nomination for Producer of the Year for Blood Moon.
The singles My Turn to Cry and Tomorrow are now available on all streaming services, and The Live Tapes – Vol 5 – Live at the Bondi Lifesaver is also available for pre-order NOW.
The album will be released on all formats on Friday, 11 December, 2020. Pre-order links are available here.
1. Juliet 2. Tomorrow 3. The Dummy 4. Shakin’ All Over 5. Breakfast At Sweethearts 6. My Turn To Cry 7. Best Kept Lies 8. Standing On The Outside 9. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door 10. Star Hotel 11. Merry-Go-Round 12. Four Walls 13. One Long Day 14. Shipping Steel 15. Khe Sanh 16. The Door 17. Goodbye (Astrid, Goodbye) 18. Georgia 19. Choirgirl 20. Ita 21. I’m Gonna Roll Ya 22. Rosaline 23. The Nazz Are Blue 24. Wild Thing
East is 40 years old… it’s now something like 9 x platinum (it’s hard to tell, it sold across two different record companies; 6 or 7 different formats; before they starting keeping proper records of sales)… it spawned the most incredible songs: ‘cheap wine’, ‘rising sun’, ‘choirgirl’, ‘my baby’, ‘four walls’, ‘never before’, ‘star hotel’, ‘ita’, ‘standing on the outside’… it featured songwriting contributions from each band member… cold chisel won almost every single ‘countdown’ music award – and received none of them :)… it’s the stuff of hard won legend… on may 29, the vinyl album is being re-released to commemorate this 40 year milestone, along with the 7″ inch vinyl single featuring a great live cover of bob dylan’s ‘knockin’ on heaven’s door’ with rare gem, ‘the party’s over’, one of don’s earliest songs…there’s 1,000 copies only.
EAST – 40th Anniversary Vinyl Edition
1. Standing On The Outside 2. Never Before 3. Choirgirl 4. Rising Sun 5. My Baby 6. Tomorrow 7. Cheap Wine 8. Best Kept Lies 9. Ita 10. Star Hotel 11. Four Walls 12. My Turn To Cry
Includes the Rare Bonus Single ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ / ‘The Party’s Over’
East is legend. And that is fact. Released on June 2, 1980, Cold Chisel’s third album was immediate startime: gold in a week, double platinum in three months, resident in the Top Ten for half a year. It was the kind of overnight success best appreciated by a band that had formed seven years earlier in Adelaide and taken the hard road to rock justice, via low bread, cramped-van rides and wartime pub gigs.
There were also the cloth ears and cold shoulders they had known, at radio and in the record-label executive suites, and the early records that came close, but not close enough, to the group’s proven rage on stage. Cold Chisel, the 1978 debut, and Breakfast at Sweethearts, the gold ’79 followup, had the right stuff in parts, at times in spades: pianist Don Walker’s literate cutting stories, set in true lives and local geography; Jimmy Barnes’ lacerated Scot’s-wolf howl; Ian Moss’ slashing Fender jangle and stilleto-note breaks; the R&B-railroad charge of bassist Phil Small and drummer Steve Prestwich.
But East – mostly recorded in March and April of 1980, co-produced by the band with engineer Mark Opitz – was Cold Chisel in full boom: all of the above, delivered with indivisible force by a band at the first true peak of its powers. The have-not’s outrage of the opening salvo, “Standing on the Outside”; the terror laced with tenderness in ‘Choirgirl”; the rough-soul portrait of a young girl forced to grow up too fast; the power- chord mayhem and rolling Who-ish thunder of “Star Hotel,” the high-speed shotgun serving of sexual despair and imperialist economics in Barnes’ rockabilly gem “Rising Sun.” This was rock & roll classicism – the lessons and challenges of Jerry Lee Lewis, Stax/Volt singles, the early Rolling Stones and the electric Bob Dylan – imprinted with Australian verve and nerve, as taut and tough as AC/DC’s pirate swagger.
There were axes to grind too. Midnight Oil, then blowing up Sydney’s North Beaches, were working on a fusion of rock might and the evening news. Cold Chisel went right to the people inside the headlines, folks hammered by current events and the upper crust. “They hold the power, I hold the blame,” Walker wrote – and Barnes sang, with vivid ire – in “Tomorrow”; also a song about how love can conquer all, at least for a night. “Star Hotel” was a riot in fact and impact, composed by Walker after the September ’79 street battle between kids and cops at the Newcastle pub. “An uncontrolled Youth in Asia/Gonna make those fools understand,” Barnes wailed, heightening the danger and revolt in Walker’s pun against Moss’ slicing chords and Small and Prestwich’s precise brawling.
The clampdown, of course, followed. Walker’s jailhouse letter “Four Walls” was based on another fracas, a 1974 prisoner uprising at Bathurst Gaol, written from the perspective of an inmate living with the payback: “I love to march while some Nazi calls the time/Who’d wanna go home?” Barnes, Glasgow-born and the son of a boxer, bit into those lines like a guy who knew, someday, he’d get that turnkey on open, even ground.
East was made by a great live pub band in meticulous studio fashion. The polish was impressive. So were the neatly etched details in the gleam and reverb, like the way Barnes’ vocal and Moss’ guitar hit and hold the same high note in”Standing on the Outside” (“And I know!”) and the dark allure of Moss’s own cracked-glass croon in his song “Never Before,” over the engine room’s Jamaica-via-Adelaide bounce. In Prestwich’s “Best Kept Lies,” Walker punctuated the loping gait with organ jabs, like the Doors’ Ray Manzarek keeping time at a Bob Marley session. Small’s “My Baby”; was pure pop pleasure, sung by Moss with husky swinging affection…
East never sounded merely skillful, or compromised, only right – an articulated fury that caught the national psyche… For Australians, East is a cornerstone of rock history and the national identity.
Legendary Australian rock bands Cold Chisel and Hoodoo Gurus will play to a full house at the first ever concert at Bankwest Stadium, with the crowd including thousands of Rural Fire Service volunteers and their families who will be honoured guests at the venue.
Minister for Sport and Member for Parramatta the Hon. Dr Geoff Lee, MP, has announced that Venues NSW, which owns the Stadium on behalf of the NSW Government, has donated more than 2500 tickets to volunteers as a “thank you” for their extraordinary service and sacrifice during the current bushfire crisis.
As part of their first ever outdoor summer tour, Cold Chisel will be joined at Bankwest Stadium on Friday 24 January by Hoodoo Gurus, Birds of Tokyo and Busby Marou.
Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes said the band was looking forward to seeing RFS bravehearts at the concert.
“We’ve been really moved by the sacrifices that these courageous volunteers have made in this desperate time,” says frontman Jimmy Barnes. “We’re excited to have them join us for this great night of rock & roll – and to raise our voices and say ‘thank you’.”
Hoodoo Gurus have never shared a bill with Cold Chisel, so this show provides the RFS volunteers and fans in general with a unique opportunity to witness two of Australia’s most-loved bands performing some of their greatest hits live.
“The ongoing bushfire emergency has made this a very hard, grim summer for so many Australians, and especially the RFS volunteers,” said Hoodoo Gurus singer/guitarist Dave Faulkner.
“They have endured unbelievable conditions defending communities and the price they have paid is beyond reckoning. We only hope that, for a few hours on Friday January 24, the healing power of music will give some of them a brief respite from the trauma they have experienced. In our own small way, we’d like to honour them for the sacrifices they have made on all our behalf.”
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: “It’s been a devastating and tragic fire season and NSW RFS members have been working tirelessly for months to protect the community. Despite this adversity, there’s been incredible generosity shown by the Australian people.
“We’re grateful to Venues NSW and the NSW Government for offering our members tickets to the Cold Chisel concert, so they can take time out to enjoy a night off with these Aussie rock legends.”
Good seats are still available for the Blood Moon Tour 2020 show at Bankwest Stadium on Friday 24 January via Ticketek here. Gates open at 4.30pm.
Fans attending the concert will be able to donate directly to the NSW Rural Fire Service and the official tour charity Foodbank, which has been providing relief for fire-affected communities. Cold Chisel has already pledged a six-figure sum to fire services and other support networks
Cold Chisel have been playing to rave reviews around the nation since the tour started on New Year’s Eve. Their album Blood Moon debuted at #1 on the ARIA Chart in December and the band’s album All For You – The Best of Cold Chisel has just been announced as the second highest selling Australian album of the past decade.
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