10th May – The Number One Album in Australia – 1982 (Cold Chisel – Circus Animals)


The number one album in Australia on the 10th May 1982 was Circus Animals from Cold Chisel.

This was their first studio album to achieve the Number One position – Cold Chisel (released April 1978) hit number 31, Breakfast At Sweethearts (released February 1979) peaked at number 4 & East (released June 1980) reached number 2.

The band’s live album Swingshift released in April 1981 hit the number one position.

Cold Chisel achieved significant success in Australia with the East album which had sales of 5xplatinum – 350 000+ copies.

For Circus Animals a different approach was going to be taken by the band reacting to the significant level of success they had just had.

“In his own classic style, Don Walker decided we could do nothing the same. We toured extensively with East and it was very successful. At a certain point, we had a meeting and Don’s suggestion was we forget everything we knew. Throw all the arrangements out the window. The band wet from being this well crafted rock’n’roll pop band to this freeform blues band. East was very crafted – we learned the art of making a pop song on East. We took all those ideas we learned and honed and were very successful with and threw them out the window. Suddenly we were doing these songs that were loose, jammy, much more cryptic” – Jimmy Barnes, Sophisto-Punk – The Story of Mark Opitz and Oz Rock [Jeff Jenkins & Luke Wallis].

“For Circus Animals Don said he didn’t want to do another commercial album, but thank God [for late drummer] Steve Prestwich. I remember being at Parramatta Leagues Club, and they did this killer fucking song. I went backstage and asked what the hell that was. It turned out to be ‘Forever Now’. Beautiful song. Bang – I had a single. [Prestwich said], “Oh, you like that? Let me play you this one.” He had a tape recorder. “This one I call ‘When the War is Over’.” Then I knew – bang bang – I had two hits. That’s all I need.

So on Circus Animals I really limited myself to arranging and working on those two songs, and letting the band have more of their way with the rest. Because I knew they would be the singles. They went really, really, really well” – Producer, Mark Opitz [Mess & Noise].

The Circus Animals album was recorded between September – December 1981 in Sydney at Paradise Studios & Studio 301.

Some of the tracks on the album include:

You Got Nothing I Want – Written by singer Jimmy Barnes responding to the disinterest and treatment the band had received earlier in the year at the hands of a record company executive during a American tour.

“Musically, ‘You Got Nothing I Want’ was inspired by the Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’. The Stones Tattoo You was Australia’s number one album when we entered the studio and Mossy would tune up by playing the riff. I’m sure if you put the start of ‘Start Me Up’ at the start of ‘You Got Nothing I Want’ it would work perfectly” – Producer, Mark Opitz – Sophisto-Punk – The Story of Mark Opitz and Oz Rock [Jeff Jenkins & Luke Wallis].

Bow River – Written by guitarist Ian Moss about a sheep station where his brother Peter had once worked in the Northern Territory; it was included as the B-side to Forever Now 7” single release.

Forever Now – Written by Steve Prestwich, who could only play drums at the time of recording, had to hum the melody to the rest of the band. Artists that have recorded covers of Forever Now include The Reels and Pete Murray.

Letter to Alan – Written by Don Walker was dedicated to a former member of the band’s road crew, Alan Dallow, who died in a truck accident.

Track listing:

You Got Nothing I Want (Barnes)

Bow River (Moss)

Forever Now (Prestwich)

Taipan (Walker)

Houndog (Walker)

Wild Colonial Boy (Walker)

No Good for You (Moss)

Numbers Fall (Walker)

When The War Is Over (Prestwich)

Letter to Alan (Walker)


Circus Animals is without doubt an important album in the landscape of Australian rock – staying on the charts for 40 weeks upon release – and is a classic longplayer to be revered.


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