From Barnesy’s opening guttural scream – “I’m standin’ in the sun/ Smokin’ a cigarette – noooo plans,” – launching both album and title track in no uncertain terms, to the poignant sound of the late Steve Prestwich, singing and drumming his only and, sadly, final contribution to the band’s legacy, I Got Things To Do, this is undeniably classic Cold Chisel – no doubt about it.
All the elements are there – Don Walker’s stomping boogie piano counterpointing his more lyrical, limpid lines on tracks like All For You and Missing A Girl; Ian Moss solos scatterfire one minute, sinewy and lithe the next; that unmistakable bludgeoning Barnes voice matched by the worldweary romance of Moss’ voice and Phil Small holding it all down, locked into former Divinyls drummer Charley Drayton. Together they’re an undeniable force of nature.
Are they adding anything new to the legacy in this, their first new collection of songs in 14 years? The answer has to be the old time will tell. You’re unlikely to hear anything much from No Plans on the radio any time soon, but there are certainly moments when a new song – HQ454 Monroe – sounds a little too much like an old song. There are hints, naturally, at post-Chisel influences here and there, as in the gospel/R&B approach to Dead And Laid To Rest, with some snaky, incendiary guitar work from Moss.
What has always set Chisel apart is the fact that for all the rock angst inherent in Barnes’ delivery, they, or more specifically Don Walker, always wrote grown-up songs. Right from the beginning, Walker’s writing was remarkably mature and he remains on the top of his game, providing all but three songs for No Plans, Moss contributing a feisty Too Late, while Barnes the aforementioned Dead And Laid To Rest.
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