Years of struggle had turned Cold Chisel into one of Australian rock's all-time great bands – many would argue the greatest. But the years had also taken their toll and, by the early '80s, rifts had begun to drag on the band. Drummer Steve Prestwich called it quits in June 1983. Two months later, the band put out a press release saying it was disbanding and in December played its final concerts to sold-out audiences at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. The shows were filmed for the documentary Last Stand: this is the film's soundtrack and the cream of those concerts. Undoubtedly a chunk of Aussie rock history, this album also stands purely on the strength of its content. Impassioned renditions of 16 of Chisel's best numbers (three of which – "Twentieth Century," "Flame Trees," and "Janelle" – had not as yet been released) delivered to rabid audiences show that the guys could still get their mojo working in overdrive and that, to the end, Cold Chisel were a great live act.
The album, recorded for Savoy in July 1956, paired Wess on flute with four trombonists - Jimmy Cleveland, Henry Coker, Benny Powell and Bill Hughes. They were backed by Ronnell Bright (p), Freddie Green (g), Eddie Jones (b) and Kenny Clarke (d). The gorgeous arrangements were by Frank Foster. At the time, Wess, Foster, Coker, Powell, Hughes, Green and Jones were all members of Count Basie's New Testament band while Ronnell Bright would periodically sub for Basie into the 1980s. In 1956, to hold his band together, Basie let his musicians make extra money recording as leaders during the band's down time…
The first album in nearly a decade to include younger brothers Ernie and Marvin backing up brother Ronald, the album scored two more R&B hits with "Whatever Turns You On" and "Sensitive Lover". It would be the group's last studio recording for Warner Bros.
The second of three volumes recorded in 1975 featuring tenorist Clifford Jordan with Cedar Walton, Sam Jones, and Billy Higgins finds the quartet in top form. Walton's "Midnight Waltz" is the first of three extended performances, the upbeat midtempo waltz featuring a rollicking solo by its composer, while Jordan's suave playing is buoyed by Higgins' driving rhythm. Walton's "Bleecker Street Theme" sounds more like a set closer due to its barely one-minute length; then the focus turns to standards, including a spacious treatment of "I Should Care" that has Jordan taking quite a few liberties with the melody from the very beginning, followed by a glistening interpretation of "Stella by Starlight." The CD reissue adds Higgins' tribute "Alias Buster Williams," which opens with a drum solo and then transforms into an uptempo post-bop setting with a Latin undercurrent as the band is added.
This CD has an unusual cover picture showing Billy Eckstine singing while holding a trumpet. He does indeed take a few short trumpet solos on the well-rounded program, 24 songs (13 previously unissued) performed during one night in Las Vegas. Eckstine, who is backed by an orchestra arranged by his pianist Bobby Tucker, is heard in prime form on a variety of standards. His baritone voice (which was quite influential) straddles the boundary between middle-of-the-road pop and jazz on such numbers as "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," "Without a Song," "Prisoner of Love," "I Apologize", "Alright, Okay, You Win" and "'Deed I Do." A good example of his talents.