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Chart Analysis July 18, 2022

Cold Chisel Debut At No.2 With ‘Circus Animals’ Reissue

Cold Chisel Debut At No.2 With ‘Circus Animals’ Reissue

Cold Chisel debuted at No.2 on the ARIA Album Chart this week with the 40th-anniversary edition of their fourth studio album “Circus Animals”.

The original version topped the charts in 1982 but a repeat trick was thwarted this week by Harry Styles, who spends his fifth total week at the top with “Harry’s House”.

However “Circus Animals 40” went to No.1 on the Vinyl and Australian Artist Albums Charts.

This is Chisel’s sixth album to reach the second spot, after “East” (1980), the “Standing On The Outside” compilation (2007), “All For You” (2011), “No Plans” (2012) and “The Perfect Crime” (2015).

If Styles gets his marching orders next week and Chisel move up, it will be their fifth No.1.

The others were “Swingshift” (April 1981), “Twentieth Century” (April 1984), “The Last Wave of Summer” (October 1998) and “Blood Moon” (December 2019).

The 40th-anniversary version comes with a limited edition DVD with concept videos and renditions sourced from shows at the Gold Coast Playroom, Sydney Acer Arena (“Houndog” with Tim Rogers of You Am I) and German TV show “Rockpalast”.

The band recorded “Circus Animals from late August/September to December 1981 at Sydney’s Paradise and Studios 301 with producer Mark Opitz.

At the time they were reacting against the pop melodies on “East” and before the sessions, Don Walker had told Opitz, “I never want to have another commercial album again.”

His own songs were intentionally less radio-friendly and more rhythmic and free form reflecting their live shows.

But the other members came up with some monster radio staples.

The highlight was “When the War Is Over”, written by drummer Steve Prestwich about a young man who’s about to be released from jail and pondering how his girlfriend and the rest of society will react.

The song was covered by everyone from Little River Band, John Farnham and Something for Kate to British band Uriah Heep.

“Bow River” was penned by the Alice Springs-born guitarist Ian Moss about the tough people who work in the Northern Territory.

Moss had never visited the creek himself, between Kununurra and Hall’s Creek, but his brother Peter, an early Chisel roadie, had worked there.

Lead-off track “You Got Nothing I Want” was Jimmy Barnes’ diatribe against Chisel’s US label Elektra who had inherited them from their Australian label Warner Music and made it abundantly clear they were not in the least bit interested in promoting Chisel on their 1981 Stateside tour or the “East” album.

Other songs on “Circus Animals” are “Taipan”,  “No Good For You”, “Wild Colonial Boy”, “Letter To Alan”(about a road crew Alan Dallow who died in a truck crash), “Numbers Fall” and “Forever Now”.

In his book “Sophisto-Punk”, producer Opitz remembered: “We were doing a mountain of coke during the “Circus Animals” sessions. 

“We would do monster lines of coke and then the band members would go in to do their parts. 

“I remember one time my head turned into a helicopter and I was about to lift off and go through the control room roof.”

The Walker-conceptualised cover shot, a wide flat space with a caravan on it, was uniquely Australian, and shot by Peter Levy who later became an award-winning cinematographer.

Barnes recalled the video shoot to “Rolling Stone”: “This caravan we towed out to Lake Eyre for the photo shoot and when we finished, we left it there. 

“It was about 40 degrees, it was brutal.”


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