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"Cheap Wine" was a 1980 single from Australian rock band Cold Chisel. The second single from the album East , the single was released in May, a month before the album.[1] It reached number 8 on the Australian charts, the bands first top-ten single, and would eventually remain the band's second highest chart performance.[2] It has been described as, "one of Don's finest commercial songs.[3]

Details[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The song first appeared in live sets in April 1980, and was recorded in one or two takes with no demo. Author Walker said, "It's about someone who's on the skids, but still having a great time. I can relate to that - in the seven years Cold Chisel have been together, we've only had enough money to eat the last two and a half. If you get into that lifestyle and start to enjoy it, you tend to stay that way even when the money comes in."[4]

Producer Opitz said, ""Cheap Wine" was obviously written as a single, something to follow "Choirgirl". If you listen to it, it has many of the same structural elements - where the chorus falls, where the bridge falls, where the backing vocals come in. And that was no accident." Moss said, "At first I might have thought "Cheap Wine" was too commercial. Interesting chord progressions that walk the fine line between keeping the song poppy but not too poppy."[5]

Author Don Walker said the song was, "a cobbled together song. The two verses were from two different ideas and the chorus came in quite late, and a middle bit from somewhere else. From memory, this was bolted together on the day, in the frenzy of writing and the euphoria of the first few days at Paradise Studios recordingEast."[5]

A promotional video was shot for the song, featuring Barnes walking around an apartment, getting dressed, and miming to the song. Shot by Peter Cox,[6] it shows footage of a cockfight in one scene. It was filmed at Roger Langford's apartment in Elizabeth Bay on the 10th and 11th of April, where the cover for East had been shot.[7]

The B-side was Barnes' first solo song-writing credit, "Rising Sun". A rockabilly song,[8] it was inspired by Barnes' then-girlfriend, Jane, travelling to Japan.[9]

Reception[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The single was picked up by a number of commercial radio stations when released.[3]

Reviewed in RAM at the time of release, it was described as, "another excellent song from Mr Walker, a stunning vocal performance from Jimmy Barnes." The reviewer does note that, "this track may not please some of the die hard head-bashers, but will certainly broaden their appeal via the airwaves. 

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