You Got Nothing I Want (J Barnes) 1981 and Forever Now (S Prestwich) and When The War Is Over (S Prestwich) – Cold Chisel 1982
The live album Swingshift had been released before the band left for the USA, simultaneously the album East was released in the USA, Jane Mahoney and Jimmy Barnes were married in May 1981, and the band arrived in the States to commence their tour in June.Prior to their departure the band appeared on the Countdown Rock Awards at the Regent Theatre where they were to receive seven awards, their performance of My Turn to Cry was incendiary. The song’s lyrics were changed to mount a savage attack on the pop industry poseurs and mimers who appeared on Countdown, the set was shredded, the band destroyed its instruments, none of the awards were collected, and Jimmy strode off stage with a bottle of vodka in hand, compere Molly Meldrum was dumbstruck, relations between him and the band were frosty for years.
Swingshift was really a compilation of greatest hits and live performance favourites and quickly ascended to #1 to confirm solid and enduring support for the band in Australia. The US was quite another matter, East stalled at #173 despite the fact that 101 radio stations were playing it,the band would never crack the US market and their experience there was comparable to that of Irish hard rockers Thin Lizzie, to whom Cold Chisel were compared,who also failed to impress when they crossed the ditch to America.
The band toured the States intensively as support act for Joe Walsh, Ted Nugent, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Cheap Trick, returning home in mid-August, reviews of their music were mixed and generally the band were deflated after their debut US tour. While genuine chart action had not materialized overseas, professionally they were a more mature unit back on the local scene, Ian Moss was acknowledged as a world class lead guitarist, Steve Prestwich would emerge as a talented songwriter with a sensitive touch, and when Jimmy Barnes wasn’t excoriating American audiences for lacking animation, he was a commanding and at times intimidating front man.In March 1982 the band commenced recording their anti-pop album Circus Animals, with Mark Opitz at Paradise Studios (Syd), the Australianess of the cover art was striking, a caravanette parked on the lunar wilderness of the Eyres Lake salt flats. Prior to the release of the album, the single You Got Nothing I Want, penned by Jimmy Barnes, was released in November ’81. Musically the song takes its cues from the Rolling Stones Start Me Up, it charted #12 nationally and the promo video was filmed at the Paddington Town Hall (Syd).
The song and Barnes vocals, constitute a visceral, angry, anguished and take-no-prisoners tirade aimed at American rock fans who preferred bland MOR rock music, their US record company Elektra (logo below) who the band felt had failed to manage and promote them effectively whilst they were touring there, and especially Elektra senior executive Marty Schwartz.
Band members had pointed out an obvious mastering problem with the US version of the East album to which Schwartz had replied that the problem was more likely to be because the band couldn’t play properly – the battle lines were drawn, and this vitriolic song was especially dedicated to Mr. Schwartz. After the band had performed one night a marketing executive from Elektra tried to redeem himself with Barnes, who takes the story up from here as told to Jeff Jenkins in his book 50 Years of Rock in Australia “He offered me a big bottle of cocaine, do you do this he asked? Don’t tell any of the other boys, keep it a secret. I grabbed it out of his hand and went back to the front row and said, do any of you guys do this shit? And then tipped it on the floor. Then I went back and picked him up by the scruff of the neck, threw him out of the dressing room and told him not to be wanker…basically when you do that stuff to American record companies, they don’t really get behind you …Regrets? Not at all – I wish I had hit him!”East had ticked all the boxes for pop success, but the band wanted to get back to their pub rock roots, four band members would contribute songs to Circus Animals in a display of versatility and creativity within the band, in addition to this one by Barnes, other highlights included Forever Now and When The War is Over by Steve Prestwich, Ian Moss contributed Bow River and Don Walker Wild Colonial Boy and Houndog.Drummer Steve Prestwich emerged as a creative force in his own right during the recording of the Circus Animals album, he provided some welcome pop sensibility to the balance of song-writing coming from the other members of the band, who were moving away from the more standard pop song structures and melodies to songs that were more free-form and experimental. Steve has admitted that he had to learn to become less self-conscious about his song writing, and while he could neither read nor write music and had to explain his melody lines to Ian Moss and Don Walker, he quickly revealed a unique style, and when Forever Now was first played at a Parramatta Leagues Club gig in mid-’81 producer Mark Opitz knew it was a hit. Phil Small’s bass lines were particularly prominent and Barnes again revealed that he can be very effective when using a more restrained vocal style.
The song was originally called Acapulco Piranha before lyrics were developed as the tune had been evolving as a jamming session/sound check piece of music for some time. It was the second single lifted from the Circus Animals album (named in protest at the band’s treatment by US promoters) and the band’s highest placed hit when it climbed to #2 in NZ and #4 locally in March ’82. The promo video was shot in the Four In Hand Bar in Paddington (Syd) which was adapted to resemble an airport departure lounge, which is the location where the song is set, as a couple separate.The third single lifted off Circus Animals was another Steve Prestwich song, When the War is Over, of the creative process Prestwich said, “I got the first verse of melody and lyric quite spontaneously, and that, coupled with the verse guitar melody, brought it all together. However, I had to write the middle eight in the studio just prior to it being recorded.” The chorus is repeated several times at the beginning of the song, “ain’t nobody gonna steal this heart away”, for a classic “lighters-in-the air moment” which is repeated at the end, Ian Moss delivers lead vocals on the first two verses as well as several guitar solos. Jimmy Barnes sings the third verse which rises to a crescendo before returning to the more restrained, melodic refrain at the beginning of the song.
It was an emotional break up song which aligned the end of a relationship with the termination of hostilities, and became a live performance favorite, it charted #25 locally. and was much-covered by many others performers. Former Australian Idol contestant Cosima de Vito arguably did one of the best cover versions, her sensitive acoustic, string-laden version, recorded independently without the support of a major label, climbed to #1, and her version of When the War… remains the only Cold Chisel song to reach #1 on the singles charts, the band’s biggest hit single was another Steve Prestwich composition, Forever Now, which climbed to #4 in 1982.