Jimmy Barnes Freight Train Heart Album Was An Unrecognized Gem

Jimmy Barnes Freight Train Heart

Photo: By jeaneeem from Canberra, Australia (IMG_6564) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What does Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis and the News, Neil Schon, Randy Jackson and Jonathan Cain of Journey, Tony Brock of the Baby’s, Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow, Jon Farriss of INXS, Johnny Diesel of Johnny Diesel & the Injectors, David Glen Eisley and  Wendy Matthews of Giuffria and Rick Brewster and Chris Bailey of the Angles all have in common? The answer is that all these great musicians played a role performing on one of the most underrated rock albums of the 1980’s.

In 1987, Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes released an album entitled Freight Train Heart. Any fan of 1980’s rock music would fall in love with this amazing record. The album Freight Train Heart was Jimmy Barnes third solo album. The singer’s debut album was released in 1984 entitled Bodyswerve . One year later in 1985, Jimmy Barnes released his sophomore release For the Working Class Man. However it was Jimmy Barnes third release, Freight Train Heart that blew away Jimmy Barnes fans.

Freight Train Heart was an album that glistened in 1980’s production. Big sounding drums, screaming guitar riffs, pulsating keyboards and lavish clean well produced sound. However what lay at the heart of the magnificent Freight Train Heart album was Jimmy Barnes “to die for,” screaming blues vocal phrasing. If you have never heard Jimmy Barnes sing before, which most people in the United States had not, than you were completely blown away by this incredible vocalist.

As great as the production and performances were on the album, the record also featured an abundance of substantially well written material. Most of the albums songs were written by Jimmy Barnes and Jonathan Cain with contributions by other writers on many tracks. However, Jonathan Cain’s influences on the material clearly stood out as many of the songs had that early 80s Journey feel, especially the material that Neil Schon recorded on. One of the album’s standout tracks was a song written by none of the musicians associated with the album. The second track on the album, “Seven Days,” is a Bob Dylan composition that stands as one of those rare Dylan songs even most die-hard Dylan fans have never heard of. It was a song originally written for Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.

While Jimmy Barnes may not be a household name in the United States, Barnes is a legend in Australia and perhaps the most popular rock singer of all time in his native country. Barnes career began as the lead singer of the Australian band Cold Chisel. The band first formed all the way back in 1973. It was an Australian band that wrote songs about the working class and has become one of Australia’s most loved bands of all time. Barnes had a rocky relationship with the band over the years often quitting and rejoining multiple times. However after Jimmy Barnes left in 1984 to pursue a solo career, the band Cold Chisel continued on. Jimmy Barnes rejoined the band in 2009.

Its amazing how many artists like Jimmy Barnes who are huge stars in heir native countries sometimes hardly make a dent in the United States. John Miles is another name that comes to mind who was a huge star in England but barley cracked the U.S. Charts.  Nonetheless, Jimmy Barnes has one of the most powerful and soulful rock and roll voices I have ever heard. We at ClassicRockHistory highly recommend that you check out the Freight Train Heart album. Its a monster recording.

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