I got on the bus this evening and the radio was playing ‘Cheap Wine’ (I was expecting it to be playing the last number one in the world, so there you go). I was once again reminded of so many interesting but not necessarily wonderful things about the Chiz, eg the good tune/ bad singing/ good and bad guitar coming out of the one amazing guitarist/ the line about rocket fuel… you know, all the things. I was surprised to see on facebook a few weeks ago some people full-on having a go at the Chiz when they failed to realise that what they were having a go at was that turkey Barnesy, but the Chiz are one of those muslim constructions indicating nothing is greater than god by having an imperfection, and that imperfection is the Barnestoermer himself. There was a moment, I don’t know if you know, when Barnesy quit the Chiz – this is before they had a record deal – and Mossy took over. Mossy is not only a guitarist’s guitarist, he’s a grouse singer. And so Chiz played with Mossy as singer for quite a few months, I think Barnesy had replaced Bon Scott in some band or other the name of which will return to me and I will put it in here when it does. And then he quit that and went back to the Chiz. Awful. But the worst thing is that tosserama Gudinski saying he wished he’d signed Chiz but when he heard their demo tape, Barnesy wasn’t singing (like, that’s a reason not to like them). Remember that joke from the Simpsons, I got Paul McCartney out of Wings? Well if only someone had got Barnesy out of Chiz forever… Don Walker’s (and the others’) amazing songs, and the incredible band, and Mossy up front. They would have been the greatest band in the world, instead of what they were, the greatest band in the world with a little pus-filled gutbucket up front belting out a kind of modified robot baby scream.
Whatever. Gudinski then signed Mossy and Mossy had a number one hit, so what was his problem with Mossy? Don Walker’s last album Cutting Back continues, for my money, to be a complete work of absolute genius, which keeps producing new greatnesses, so I am right into that, and I think Walker is in some ways a great bush balladeer whose music isn’t quite up to his lyrics (like a lot of great lyricists, think of Bob Dylan, if you like Bob Dylan), but it certainly has room for great musicians to work within, as ‘Cheap Whinge’ (as any song with Barnesy singing it could be called) shows.
I recently witnessed a quite good conference paper about oz rock and western Sydney in the 80s. I was up for it. I still think that oz rock is a misnomer; there’s no such thing in terms of sound (Icehouse was ‘oz rock’ as much as Chiz or anything else you care to name of a guitar-power chord persuasion; and for that matter, to take a random example and as much as they’re – or because they’re so – despised, the Angels were often as post-punk as anything else; think of the similarities, for there are so many, between the Gang of Four and ‘Take a Long Line’). I think the Angels are unfairly despised in many quarters. I admit I agree the later 80s saw them get a bit too hair-metal at least for my taste or the 21st century’s, the earlier stuff was very hardy. I advise you to reassess at the earliest opportunity.