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alinact 1960's Australian Folk Albums (127* d) RE: 1960's Australian Folk Albums 22 Jul 03


Good to know that there are still copies of these records out there, cobber, but I will still continue the exercise for those that don't know them.

The next album is called Bullockies, Bushwackers & Booze (POL 039) and features Martyn Wyndham-Read, Phyl Vinnicombe and Peter Dickie with a bush band consisting of Jim Buchanan (Lagerphone), Bert Cameron (Mouth Organ), Peter Dickie (Guitar) and David Lumsden (Banjo).

The back cover sleeve notes read:

SIDE ONE

1. REEDY RIVER (5.08) The words of Reedy River are by Henry Lawson, and the tune by Sydney singer, Chris Kempster. 'Reedy River' was the central song around which was based the now famous Australian musical of the same name.

2. THE OVERLANDERS (2.50) The version here is similar to the one published in the 'Queensland New Colonial Campfire Songbook' issued in 1865. The melody is a relative of one used in England for a ballad about the highway man Dick Turpin.

3. ANDY'S GONE WITH CATTLE (2.09) The words are by poet Henry Lawson. They describe a woman's concern which was not unfamiliar in the early days of Australian history; the worry brought about by the husband leaving wife and family to find work droving cattle.

4.EUABALONG BALL (1.45) This is a more working-class version of a genteel song of the late 19th century, 'The Woyoo Ball'. Comparison between the last two lines of the last stanza and the version sung here indicates the change of tone wrought by its descent down the social ladder:

'And many there will be who will love to recall
the fun they had at the Woyoo ball'.

The English singer and folk collector, A.L. Lloyd, seems to have collected the only version of this song while working on the stations along the Lachlan River in the 1920's and '30's.

5. ONE OF THE HAS-BEEN"S (1.51) This song tells the story of an old bloke who is certainly not shearing as fast as he used to, but is accepting the passing of the years gracefully. The tune will be easily recognised as 'Pretty Polly Perkins from Paddington Green'.

6. WILD ROVER (3.25) Originally a 19th century British broadside, 'Wild Rover' was presumably brought to Australia by sailors, where it enjoyed wide currency among bush workers. Banjo Patterson was first to print a bush version in the 1924 edition of 'Old Bush Songs'.

7. YE SONS OF AUSTRALIA (3.55) This song is published in 'Songs from the Kelly Country', and a much longer version (16 verses) is found in John Manifold's 'Penguin Australian Song Book', although some verses in this version are a bit hard to take, likening Kelly's sister to an Amazon queen and the Kelly gang to the free sons of Ishmael!

8. MARYBOROUGH MINER (3.55) Again, A.L. Lloyd has noted the only version of this song known to folklorists. 'The Murrumbidgee Shearer', printed by Banjo Patterson, contains some almost identical verses. However, the more stagey touches (perhaps by Patterson himself?) in 'The Murrumbidgee Shearer' contrast with the vigorous Irish 'Come-All-Ye' style of the 'Maryborough Miner'. Some definitions may be of help:

'Longtomming, cradling, puddling, panning': different ways of washing gold from soil.
'On the cross': in defiance of the law, the opposite to 'on the square'.
'Patent Pill Machine': a revolver.
'Cockatoo': the prison - no longer in existence - on Cockatoo Island, Sydney, N.S.W.

SIDE TWO

1. CLICK GO THE SHEARS (3.45) Along with 'Waltzing Matilda' is Australia's best known song, telling of the rigours and hardships of the shearer's life both in the shed and at the end of the season. The tune is also known as 'Ring the Bell, Watchman', and another version of this song has been collected and sung by A.L.Lloyd.

2. THE WILD COLONIAL BOY (3.06) This most popular song has had many versions collected throughout Australia. It replaced another bushranger ballad 'Bold Jack Donohue' as being the most widely and enthusiastically sung bush folk ballad, and at the time (1840's-50's) was most subversive of respect for authority and the rights of property.

3. O'MEALLY'S SHANTY (2.20) 'O'Meally's Shanty' was written by Kenneth Cook, of the A.B.C. in Sydney. It is based on the fact that O'Meally's shanty was the meeting place for the Lachlan bushrangers. His daughter, Kate, was a friend of Ben Hall.

4. PUT A LIGHT IN EVERY COUNTRY WINDOW (2.38) Written by Don Henderson, probably our best known singer-songwriter of topical songs, after a trip through the great Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric Scheme. Although particularly known for his more political songs, 'Put a Light' is certainly one of his most popular compositions.

5. 'ARD TACK (3.44) 'Ard Tack was recorded at the home of Mr. Jack Davies, a pioneer soldier-settler of the Leeton District on the Murrumbidgee. He says he didn't write it, but distinctly remembers being sober the day it was written. A song any shearer would relish, particularly on that section of the Murrumbidgee where grapes and sheep are grown side by side.

6. LAZY HARRY'S (2.55) A rollicking song telling of what normally happened to a bush worker who spent long periods in the bush, then came to town to 'live-it-up'. In this song the destination was Sydney, but they never got past Lazy Harry's or the barmaids at Gundagai.

7. BALLAD OF BEN HALL'S GANG (2.56) Of all bushrangers, Ben Hall seems to come closest to the Robin Hood folk-hero ideal. Ben Hall was the good man wronged, driven by police persecution and personal hardships to outlawry, but still conducting himself with a minimum of violence and a maximum of chivalry. The songs containing his exploits are collectively the most attractive of our bushranger ballads.

8. WALTZING MATILDA (2.45) The contoversy over the origins of this song (whether Paterson did in fact write the words, or whether the tune is an imperfect version 'The Bonny Wood of Craigilea') has been revived recently by the publication of Oscar Mendolsohn's book 'Waltzing Matilda'. However, the song's popularity remains similarly undiminished, and it is undoubtedly the best known of all Australian songs.

PETER DICKIE
MICK COUNIHAN
1967

I think that the best thing about Australian songs is their simplicity. There is no real originality in them - mostly the tunes are borrowed, and on some occasions even the words are. But the songs which are wholly Australian seem to fit the words just as simply as the words fit the tune, which I feel is the basis of folk music. Essentially it is the words which are the important thing, not the tune. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is out of a song about Ned Kelly entitled 'The Battle of Stringybark Creek', where there is one particular line that goes:

'But he never saw the Kellys, planted safe behind a log,
so he sauntered back to yarnand smoke and wire into the prog'

When I first saw this word 'prog' it appeared to me rather an incredible word, and I felt that the only reason it was there was because the bloke who wrote it couldn't think of anything else to rhyme with 'grog', and I'm sure that's the way some Australian words got into usage. The reason I believe love songs are lacking in Australia is that the period when these songs were evolved was during the gold rushes, and the gold fields were certainly no place for a genteel lady. Most blokes left their wives behind, so the only women who were around at that time were the camp followers who were more intersted in the nugget than the man.

The songs that we have got together on this record are some that we enjoy doing. They range through shearing, bushranging, droving, contemporary activities. Without the Bush Band these songs would be perhaps a bit weak and inaudible. The majority of shearing songs were sung with a tremendous of gusto in extremely high keys and at the top of the singers' lungs; the bushranging songs were sung with as much defiance as was feasible; the droving songs with as much clippity-clop as the performers were capable of. I'd like to mention just two songs that Jim Sings: 'Click Go the Shears' and 'Waltzing Matilda'. The former we always have much enjoyment in performing as Jim is so enthusiastic it is contagious, and the latter we also get a great deal of fun from.

MARTYN WYNDHAM-READ

Allan


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