[Chisel’s] The Last Stand
shows in December ’83 and I was on tour and road-testing songs by February/March ’84, then in the studio recording in April, so we didn’t muck about at all.
“I wanted to keep the momentum going. I just wanted to do what I do best, which is perform live and make rock ’n’ roll music. We went into the studio in Sydney with Mark Opitz and made Bodyswerve. Nobody had the chance to compare it to Cold Chisel because I never stopped. We played hard, raw rock ’n’ roll. We weren’t trying to be anything we weren’t, and people either liked it or they didn’t. We just put it out there and, luckily for me, it went to number one. It was a good start.”
Fast-forward 30 years to the new Hindsight album…
“I was trying to do something special for the 30th anniversary. Chisel did Standing On The Outside, where we got a lot of our favourite bands to record our songs. It’s a great idea, but everyone’s been doing it. And, that idea took me out of the picture. So I thought, I’ll get all my favourite acts and I’ll get to sing with them! It’s either me being the singer, or doing duets.
“I tour a lot and I’m always stimulated by support bands and all the musicians I work with. So over the years I have done lots of collaborations – Double Happiness was an album of duets; I’ve done duets with Tina Turner, INXS, John Farnham, Joe Cocker and many others.
“I find that every time I sing with another artist, or work with another band, I learn something new. Particularly a record like Hindsight – what I’ve been doing is getting the band to do the song the way they would do it, and I would sing with the band. And I think that’s a really great thing – as long as you keep learning, you’re moving forward.”
Hindsight sees Jimmy surrounded by family and friends, revisiting some of the biggest hits from throughout his solo career, along with a few deeper cuts and personal favourites. Family includes daughter Mahalia, son David Campbell and brother-in-law Diesel. And the friends include Keith Urban, The Living End, Tina Arena, Steven Van Zandt, Joe Bonamassa, etc.
As for the songs, most are icons in their own right: ‘No Second Prize’, ‘Working Class Man’, ‘I’d Die To Be With You Tonight’, ‘Lay Down Your Guns’, ‘Good Times’, to name a few.
After Bodyserve, what followed was an unparalleled and unbroken streak of six chart-topping albums in a row, spanning the remainder of the 1980s and into the ’90s. Just like Cold Chisel previously, Jimmy’s music literally provided the soundtrack for a generation of Australians.
The incredible statistics from his solo career tell only part of the story: Nine number one albums in total; all but one of his 14 studio albums debuting inside the Top 3; twice inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame (as a solo artist and member of Cold Chisel).
“I’d come up with a shortlist of songs. Basically, I had a good idea of the artist I wanted for each song – I didn’t want to put square pegs into round holes. The whole thing has been made quite quickly and spontaneously. The first track we put down was ‘Ride The Night Away’ which was originally on For The Working Class Man album.
“Back then Steven Van Zandt sent that song to me via Gary Gersh, who was the A&R man for Geffen Records in America. It was a little demo that he’d recorded on a Dictaphone. There was nothing else on it, just Steven scatting. Steven and drummer Steve Jordan had written this song specifically for me. When I got it, it was just the perfect demo. I just put it in the right key for me and I did it. I’ve been a fan of Springsteen since 1973 – the E Street Band is one of my favourite bands in the world, but I’d never seen them live – we’d never crossed paths and I was always working when they were touring.
“When they came back to Australia this time (March 2014), and I was working with them in New Zealand, I got this idea in my head that I would like to do the song with [Little] Steven. I went up to him and said, “This song you sent me 30 years ago, I wouldn’t mind recording it with you.” So Steven came to my house. My son [Jackie] played drums, and I got Steven playing the guitar solo and singing harmonies. Virtually, it was take three, but we spent about 12 hours together, just talking.”
“Then I went to America where I hooked up with Keith Urban. I’ve known Keith since he was a young performer. I think one of his very first recordings was in my house in Mittagong, near Bowral. He’s a really lovely guy and a great guitar player and singer.
“I’ve been doing a Vanda & Young song called ‘Good Times’ since 1987, when I did it with INXS. I sent it to Keith, and got him in the studio with [producer] Kevin Shirley in America. We did a rockin’ version.”
“Kevin Shirley produced the Hindsight album. He produced Cold Chisel’s last album [No Plans]. We get on really well. He has a great history of rock ’n’ roll music and he lived in Australia for a while, so he has a great sense of Australian music.”
“Kevin hooked me up with Joe Bonamassa, an awesome guitar player. We’ve collaborated on ‘Too Much Ain’t Enough Love’ and he also plays on ‘Stone Cold’ which was fantastic.”
“From there, it just started snowballing. I wanted to do something with Mark Lizotte, Diesel. I got The Living End to do a track. Mahalia, my daughter, did a track. I recorded‘I’d Rather Be Blind’ with Jon Stevens; he’s one of my favourite singers of all time. We’re dear mates, we’ve grown up together. He used to support me when he was a young singer, and now we do gigs together all the time. So to get Jon to sing with me was really special.”
“Baby Animals doing ‘Time Will Tell’ is a great, great version.”
“Love and Fear and Psyclone were albums that were reasonably lost compared to the other albums, so to go back and cover songs like ‘Time Will Tell’ and ‘Love and Hate’ (which I’ve done with Shihad) was a great experience and gave us a chance to breathe some fresh life into them and reintroduce those songs to people who buy my records.”
“When it came to do the song ‘Lay Down Your Guns’, The Living End was the first band I thought of. We allocated a whole day in the studio – 12 hours to do the song. But with a band like The Living End, we ran through the song once – yep, it’s the right key. We ran through it again – yep, we’ll push this and pull that. And then the third take, the song’s done. We virtually had the song done in an hour.”
I re-visited ‘I’d Die To Be With Tonight’, which I sing with my brother-in-law Diesel (Mark Lizotte). It was a big song for me, one of the pivotal songs of my career. I wanted to work with Diesel and I said, ‘What song would you like to do?’ and that was his first choice loved. It’s modernised the song but also taken me back to 1987, or whenever it was when The Injectors album came out and when I was first recording that song.”
“I sang ‘Stand Up’ with my daughter Mahalia. She’s a beast – a phenomenal singer. She’s one of the best girls I know. I’m biased, because I’m her father, but she’s got a great work ethic, she sings harder than anyone I know, she’s a caring person, a great mother and she’s a great mentor for young artists … She picked ‘Stand Up’, which is one of my favourite tunes from the Heat album. Mahalia and her band, The Soul Mates, did it first take, and it was just frightening. It reminded me of Sly and the Family Stone. Singing with Mahalia is a challenge every time I do it now because she just sings so damn good.
“I’m really happy with the record because we’ve actually kicked some life into the songs. I think when people hear the record; they get the sense that these are very modern takes on these songs. They sound fresh and they sound new and they sound alive. They sound aggressive, which I really like.”
“I didn’t want to do just the best-of. I’ve done a HITS record before. I wanted this to be more of a retrospective of the past 30 years, with songs that I like, and songs that I felt were steps forward for me.”
Format: CD / limited LP
Label: Provogue Records
Release: 27 October 2014
ALBUM TRACK LISTING
1. Lay Down Your Guns (w/ The Living End)
2. Time Will Tell (w/ The Baby Animals)
3. Good Times (w/ Keith Urban)
4. Ride The Night Away (w/ Steven van Zandt)
5. Stand Up (w/ Mahalia Barnes + The Soul Mates)
6. I’d Die To Be With You Tonight (w/ Diesel)
7. Stone Cold (w/ Tina Arena and Joe Bonamassa)
8. Working Class Man (w/ Jonathan Cain and Ian Moss)
9. Going Down Alone (w/ Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain)
10. Love And Hate (w/ Shihad)
11. No Second Prize
12. I’d Rather Be Blind (w/ Jon Stevens)
13. When Your Love Is Go
Website Jimmy Barnes: http://www.jimmybarnes.com/