Oz rock royalty Cold Chisel do not try to reinvent the wheel on their ninth album, and first ARIA #1 in more than two decades, Blood Moon. In some cases they even dive into their own back pages for inspiration, with mostly positive results.
The boogie-blues opener Getting the Band Back Together kicks the album off with tongue planted firmly in cheek, as the Don Walker-penned tune details a bunch of old mates reliving their youth. It’s clearly not autobiographical, as members of the band chronicled work day jobs and the need to get the missus’ permission to get off the leash and into the drummer’s back shed. It’s that the fictional band has two members with the pipes Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes exhibit here – it’s like their voices have gotten stronger with age, and with less whiskey and darts, as they trade verses.
The Don keeps his songwriting straight-faced on cabaret song Boundary Street and Accident Prone, which are both piano-led album highlights, the latter of which was penned during Walker’s Catfish days in the late 80s. He also gives a credit to Sonny Curtis for borrowing the chorus of I Fought the Law on I Hit the Wall.
Just as Jimmy Barnes is confident using a smartphone to order whatever food he craves these days, he’s also got no qualms in providing his own lyrics to the band, for better or worse. Some of Barnsey’s contributions leave the listener cringing, such as the “big car/big dick/big ass/big lick” line on the rhythm and blues tune Land of Hope. He gets closer to pop writing on Someday, complete with female backing vocals, which also harks back to the broken man themes the band built its name on.
While Chisel don’t throw too many stylistic curveballs on Blood Moon, what is surprising is just how polished they sound. Often bands of more than a 40-year vintage show signs of being on their last legs at this stage, but Cold Chisel sound like they’re primed to reclaim their crown as the best live band in the country in 2020.