Chiseled: The Early Roots Of Cold Chisel & The Songs They've Covered (Part 2)

Chiseled: The Early Roots Of Cold Chisel & The Songs They've Covered (Part 2)

best cold chisel covers
Cold Chisel, 1982 (Photo by Fryderyk Gabowicz/Getty Images)

In Part 1 we took a dive into the early influences of Cold Chisel including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and more. You can catch up on that here. 

Below we look at some of the great Chisel covers over the years, first looking at the original and then the way Barnesy, Mossy & co. made it their very own for the pubs of Australia.  

"Georgia On My Mind"

A showstopping Ian Moss signature tune, this classic Hoagy Carmichael via Ray Charles number is all delicacy and finesse. Some fans probably saw it as a time to go to the bar or brave the toilets, but it highlighted other qualities and became a significant part of Cold Chisel's set. Chisel's version first appeared on the B-side "Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)" in 1978.

"Wild Thing"

From the sublime to the debauched... A highlight of Chisel's live You're Thirteen, You're Beautiful, and You're Mine live EP of 1979, "Wild Thing" captured the full of a prime Chisel late 70s pub show for posterity. The band learned it from Jimi who learned it from the Troggs...

"Knocking On Heaven's Door"

Another Dylan classic, which most people probably don't realise Dob write and recorded for the great Sam Peckinpah western Pat Garret & Billy the Kid, in which Dylan also took an odd minor but critical role. A minor hit for Bob in 1973, the song was an oft-covered rock classic by the end of the '70s, years before Guns N'Roses got hold of it.


"Don't Let Go"

An R&B obscurity learned off a Jerry Lee Lewis, "Don't Let Go" was originally recorded by Roy Hamilton in 1958. Hamilton also had the first hit versions of "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Unchained Melody", as well as "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry", later a favourite of both Elvis and the Beatles.



"It's Only Make Believe"

It should come as no surprise that Chisel have long enjoyed covering country tunes: after all "Khe Sanh" is a country-rocking number in the style of the Dingoes, and Don Walker wrote quite a few songs for Slim Dusty. "It's Only Make Believe" was an early hit for the great country crooner Conway Twitty in 1959, although we're most taken with this fantastic live version from the '90s in which Conway almost gets his Barnesy on by the end.



"Big River"

Years before Johnny Cash was covering Nine Inch Nails and Tom Petty tunes, Chisel picked this early Cash tune which no doubt would have resonated with any of Australia's more flood-prone regions. A staple during both the Last Wave of Summer and Ringside tours.



An obscure one from the American master songwriter Randy Newman – someone Don Walker would no doubt listen to carefully – "Guilty" was for years an even more obscure entry in the Chisel discography, as it only ever appeared on a New Zealand B-side until released digitally!

"As Long As I Can See The Light"

John Fogerty of Creedence is one of the great American songwriters, and a man seemingly steeped in the blues, gospel and country sounds of the South. Yet he was a man who in reality experienced as little of America's South as English bands like the Stones and Zeppelin; he'd never been to Louisiana when he wrote Born On The Bayou or sung "Cottonfields", and he'd never been to Mississippi when he wrote "Proud Mary". But he wrote fantastically universal songs, which is something that Chisel decided upon around the same time that Bruce Springsteen did; he started playing the similarly broad-reaching "Who'll Stop The Rain" around the same time Chisel started doing "As Long As I See The Light", in the early 80s. Both songs were inspired by the Vietnam war, as indeed were a couple of the Boss's most famous songs, as well as Chisel's "Khe Sahn". And Fogerty had a phenomenal scream on him, which Jimmy no doubt appreciated.  



"Light My Fire"

Perhaps an odd one – too obvious? – for Chisel to be doing in 1980-81, but a recording from that era appeared in 2011. "Roadhouse Blues", a more likely Doors number, was something they were doing back in the 70s but they never recorded it.



"River Deep, Mountain High"

Speaking of phenomenal screams... Tina Turner and Phil Spector combined in 1966 to make one of the most apocalyptic records ever recorded. A natural tune for a singer like Jimmy to attempt and the seed was no doubt planted for his subsequent solo soul collections with this live cover.

"Rip It Up"

One of quite a few 50s R'n'B belters Chisel started covering in the early 80s (Don & Jimmy were both huge Jerry Lee Lewis fans at the time, "Rip It Up" was a Little Richard hit that Bill Haley, Elvis and Buddy Holly also recorded. Other 50s rockers they covered around this time were the aforenoted "Don't Let Go", Warren Smith's Sun Records classic "Ubangi Stomp" and Big Joe Turner's "Shake Rattle & Roll". They'd been doing "Jailhouse Rock' back in 1975, but we suspect that may have been inspired by Jeff Becks' heavier version from 1969, with Rod Stewart on vocals... so let's hear that as well! 



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