JIMMY BARNES 1984 – 2019

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Driving Wheels (J Barnes/ J Cain/ D Robert) and I’m Still on Your Side (J Barnes/J Vallance/ J Cain) and Waitin’ for the Heartache (J Barnes/ D Child) – Jimmy Barnes 1988

The second single lifted off the Freight Train Heart album was Driving Wheels, a joint composition by Jimmy Barnes, Jon Cain and David Roberts, it was essentially Working -Class Man revisited and although not very original, it reinforced the blue-collar rock image Barnes had embraced on his debut solo album Bodyswerve and further cemented his pub rock credibility.

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American session guitarist David Lindley opened proceedings with a bluesy lap steel guitar intro, drums seep in and Barnes vocals were initially restrained, until the song gathered momentum and the more familiar propulsive beat, chanted vocals, and fat guitars took over. The title for this song came about when Jon Cain was driving Jimmy to Oakland (LA) for a recording session in his small sports car, and Jimmy felt the stress of being surrounded by heavy traffic and very large trucks, when Cain asked him for a song title he responded “What about a truck-driving song … shit did you see the size of those wheels”, to which Cain replied “Good idea… truck driving … big wheels…rolling wheels…I’m onto to it Jim.” (Working Class Man 2017). The video was filmed at different locations along the Hume Highway which links Sydney and Melbourne, with Barnes by the roadside chanting the vocals as trucks go by, Mark Lizotte appeared playing acoustic guitar at the roadside, which he didn’t do on the recording. It wasn’t a big budget clip, but atmospherically it ticked the boxes, you can almost smell the dust, diesel fumes, cab freshener, and coolant as the truck drivers eighteen wheelers put rubber to the road.

Freight Train Heart/Diesel and Dust/ Highway to Hell- gotta love a good life-affirming road song

The song charted #12 nationally and continued Jimmy’s chart momentum, he followed up quickly with the Cain/Barnes/Jim Vallance song I’m Still On Your Side, a more nuanced, restrained vocal treatment by Jimmy Barnes, an emotional breakup song, which required a sensitive rendering “Emotions ran high/ And the words were strong/ Heard the screen door slam/ And you were gone/ You can’t win a fight/ You don’t understand/ And I wake up alone/ Reachin’ for your hand”.

The promo clip was filmed at the Hawksbury River Railway Station in outer metropolitan Sydney, a perfect bucolic setting for such a song, with Neal Schon delivering solid lead guitar riffs, and Australian actress Imogen Annesley (below) appearing as the girl with the child in this video, the song was a minor hit at #29, and was underrated.

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The third song lifted off Freight Train Heart was a collaboration between Jimmy and the legendary Desmond Childs who had written many hits for Bon Jovi – Living On A Prayer, Bad Medicine, and You Give Love A Bad Name, as well as I Was Made For Loving You (Kiss), Poison  (Alice Cooper) and Livin’ La  Vida Loca (Ricki Martin).

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Waitin’ For The Heartache was also a more restrained break up song, with killer guitar riffs courtesy of Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) and Dave Amato, and impressive rock ballad vocals from Barnes “ Hard as a rock, you have made your heart/ And you’re so sure that its me to blame/ How can you lose when you hold all the cards/ But who can win at a loser’s game/ You told me I had to live without you/ Hey loneliness is no stranger to my life/ And I know you’ll get by.”

Barnes reveals vocal talent not always heard amidst his chants and shouts.

In the promo clip opening, fairground scenes segue to a live concert performance, as Diesel and Dave Amato trade guitar riffs; on the actual recording backup vocals were courtesy of Daryll Hall and Joe Lynn Turner. The song charted #32 nationally and Freight Train Heart became Barnes third consecutive #1 studio album, charted #5 in NZ, #24 in  Sweden, #104 in the USA, and sold in excess of 350,000 copies.

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