I wish I had the hindsight to pick up the guitar instead of writing about my best friend who picked up the guitar and became an auxiliary member of a moderately popular rock band, Acceptance. I wish I had the hindsight to kiss that girl, sit at the cool kids table because I deserved to be there, or listen to Australian music before I was paid to.
Jimmy Barnes is the lead singer of Australian powerhouse quintet, Cold Chisel. He is one of those musicians, like David Byrne or Sting, who brings a larger draw as a solo musician, or at least one on par with his main group. It has been awhile since Jimmy Barnes has brought out a solo release, and for his latest he dips out and about his entire musical solo career. Barnes celebrates a little hindsight with 2014’s pseudo revisionist greatest hits release, Hindsight. The first disc is revamped classics mostly from artists that Barnes found widely influential. Oddly, some of these songs only became popular in hindsight. Others never did.
The second disc is a selection of solo material from Barnes career. I have some disdain for greatest hits packages because I feel it is superfluous, so I won’t discuss it further. As an introduction to Barnes,’ you would be better off with Soul Deep or Two Fires.
This is one of the most personal cover releases I have ever heard. You get the feeling that there was no corporate mingling or cookie-cutter select cuts. It would be like a band covering a hit from a few years prior they were only slightly related to. Every track is only a few steps away from Barnes own core hard rock sound. But they are different enough to sound impressive in the hands of Barnes and whoever is guest spotting on the track alongside him.
‘Stand Up’ is almost a pure scaled up soul track. Infusing the spirited voice of Mahalia Barnes, the song is simply exquisite. “Ride the Night Away” brings Steven Van Zandt out of Norway’s Lilyhammer orifices to deliver a seismic backbeat to an already huge classic.
Some of these are not actually covers at all. “Too Much Ain’t Enough Love” is from Barnes own late 80’s Freight Train Heart. He brings aboard Joe Bonamassa to add some spirit to an otherwise decent original. Perhaps the best part of this entire release is the fact that Barnes isn’t scared to ask anyone along for the party. He has soul masters alongside punk elites. For example the Living End shows up to add a massive riff to album opener, ‘Lay Down Your Guns.’ The fact that this is on the same album as the fruity soft rock song ‘Stone Cold’ is a powerful statement. Not only is Barnes exceptional across the entire gamut of music, he also doesn’t give two shits about what you think and like.
Jimmy Barnes is a big player in Australia, and he serendipitously brought out guest vocalists and players on nearly every one of Hindsight’s 17 tracks. It is a bit of a hodge podge mess stylistically. Some tracks are Barnes originals reinterpreted. Others are classics. Others remain untouched from their original as just a greatest hits repressing. It ends up being a summation of Barnes solo catalog, with heart ballads and punk jams sporadically laid about all over the place. What a boss.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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