Top 10 Cold Chisel Songs

Top 10 Cold Chisel Songs

In the lead up to MAX The Artist's Story: Cold Chisel we thought we'd go back and take a look at the back catalogue of some of our favourites from one of the greatest rock bands this country has ever produced.

Here is list of our 10 favourite Cold Chisel songs - the songs that made us cry tears of pride, hug complete strangers, order eight more schooners, and air-shred Mossy guitar solos.

And don't forget to tune in to MAX The Artist's Story: Cold Chisel, this Monday, April 1 at 9.30pm. To watch the opening few minutes of the special, click through here



1. Flame Trees

Only pipped out Khe Sanh because of its emotional impact. Flame Trees universal lyrics are applicable to almost anyone who grew up in Australia. Don Walker’s lilting piano keys, Phil Small’s warm bass lines, Ian Moss’ wailing guitar lines and Jimmy’s pining, gravely vocals -if you can listen to this song without shedding a tear, you’re either deaf or a robot.

2. Khe Sanh

There’s nothing that can really be said about this song that hasn’t been said before. It sits in the pantheon of unofficial  national anthems, along with ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘I Still Call Australia Home’. There are few who haven’t wrapped their arm around a mate on a big night at the local for a ‘Khe Sanh’ sing along. The fact that a song with such heavy lyrical content can resonate so easily with generation after generation of Australians cements Don Walker’s reputation as one of our greatest ever song writers.

3. Cheap Wine

Probably the band’s most memorable video clip and another great pub rock sing-along, it almost bubbles with a reggae rhythm. It epitomises what we imagine what life as a member of Cold Chisel must have been like at the height of their career. Don Walker even said about the song, “"It's about someone who's on the skids, but still having a great time. I can relate to that - in the seven years Cold Chisel have been together, we've only had enough money to eat the last two and a half. If you get into that lifestyle and start to enjoy it, you tend to stay that way even when the money comes in."

4. Choir Girl

This was the band’s first conscious effort to write a “hit” single and was recorded with producer Mark Opitz, who would go on to produce their next four albums, as well as hit records for INXS, Hoodoo Gurus and Australian Crawl.

5. Forever Now

One of the band’s more commercial sounding songs, it features arguably their catchiest choruses, and is an excellent example of Ian Moss’ exceptional guitar lick writing skills as it’s his guitar lines that drive the entire flow of the song.

6. Bow River

Credit where credit is due and this vocal performance by Mossy highlights just how exceptional a vocalist he was next to Jimmy Barnes. It also highlights just how talented each musician in Cold Chisel was, from Steve’s complicated, driving drum patterns, Mossy’s shredding, Phil’s warping bass lines and Don’s blues harmonica airlifted straight from the American deep south.

7. When The War Is Over

Probably Steve Prestwich’s greatest song writing contribution to Cold Chisel’s catalogue, it is a powerful, emotional ballad that highlights the band’s ability to not just be heavy, pub rockers, but also sensitive and soulful pop singers

8. Breakfast At Sweethearts

Like so many of the punk and post punk songs of the 80s sounded like the dank and dangerous depths of New York city of the era, Breakfast At Sweethearts sounds exactly like the seedy Kings Cross of the 80s it was inspired by. In Allmusic’s description of the record, "Don Walker's song writing -- and his story crafting around local references -- could engage a listener underwater," as it transports you to the infamous Sydney strip filled with gangsters, hookers, strippers and junkies.

9. Star Hotel

Inspired by the Star Hotel Riot in Newcastle in 1979, this song is the perfect example of how the band could take an almost insignificant moment in the nation’s history and turn it into a piece of art that will last forever, ensuring it will never be forgotten. 

10. Saturday Night

One of the band’s highest charting songs, it’s another eerie snap shot of Don Walker’s fascination with Kings Cross and features ambient sounds from the area that Walker recorded himself with a portable recorder. It literally sounds like Sydney in the 80s – Cold Chisel’s Camelot.


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