Though he now calls Nashville home, Keith Urban’s always been one for preserving his Australian roots — he even married a fellow Aussie, Nicole Kidman — and certainly doesn’t stop when it comes to championing the music from down-under. This time, he’s partnered with fellow countryman Jimmy Barnes, former frontman of Cold Chisel and a veritable rock & roll legend in their homeland, on a cover of “Good Times.” The track appears on Barnes’ recently released 15th LP, 30:30 Hindsight, and displays another side Urban also channels frequently: his hard-rocking one.
The single displays two masters at the top of their game — and one just happens to be pushing sixty. While Urban adds his signature high-octane shred to the classic tune first released by the Easybeats in 1968 — essentially Australia’s Beatles —Barnes’ epic howl brings it to another level of rock-county heights with soulful, Steve Perry-reaching vocals.
Barnes and Urban have had a long-standing friendship that’s seen them through both highs and lows, namely drug addiction. “We have both had our times skating very close to the edge, when we both could have fallen through the ice once or twice,” Barnes recently told an Australian news site about his CMA-nominated duet partner. “There were times when I was really going hard, getting hammered, and I don’t know why but I would get a text out of the blue from Keith in America saying ‘Are you OK, mate? I pick ‘Good Times’ for us to do to tip our hats to friendship and because we have shared this common journey. As we did with Michael.”
Michael is Michael Hutchence, the Australian INXS frontman who committed suicide in 1997. He was a close friend of Barnes’, and the two released a version of “Good Times” in 1986. It’s been a difficult song for Barnes to perform ever since his friend’s death, but on this version with Urban he’s able to channel the energy into pure rock emotion.
This isn’t the first time Barnes and Urban have collaborated — Urban has played the Cold Chisel song “Flame Trees” often on tour, particularly in Australia, and has even had Barnes join him on stage occasionally. The connections don’t end there: Urban also once sang back-up on the 1991 INXS track “Shining Star.” In other words, plenty of Aussie pride.