The first of our two-part album set. The band are:
(Ross Hamilton, vocals, banjo, guitar, mandolin), Emma Hamilton (vocals, accordion, piano), Mark Oats (fiddle), Garry Steel (accordion, keyboards), Darryl Neve (vocals, double bass), Kirk Steel (piano accordion), Stuart French (lead guitar, guitars), John Knight (electric guitars) and Thomas Hamilton (piano, keyboards, electric bass, drums, percussion).
Produced by Ross and Thomas Hamilton.
1. The album gets off to a flying start with the jaunty gold prospecting song “With My Swag On My Shoulder”, a song of great hope and expectation for anyone willing to get on the boat and make the long perilous journey to Australia, where they were told fortunes were to be made picking up the nuggets of gold! Emma features on this track with a lively piano accordion solo.
2. “Botany Bay” (the 19th century English music-hall satire on convicts) is paired together with the classic radio advertisement “I Like Aeroplane Jelly”, which dates back to the early days of Aussie radio.
3. Next is the lively sea shanty “South Australia”, a call-and-response set piece for the ships’ crew to sing while working on deck. This track also includes a foot-tapping fiddle and accordion break by Mark and Garry playing “The Sailor’s Hornpipe”.
4. “The Old Bullock Dray”, a wonderfully optimistic song about all the things one shearer plans to do when the shearing season is over, sees the band kick into jig-time with more fiddle and accordion duets by Mark and Garry.
5. On “Clare Jig” and “Haste To The Wedding”, two of our favourite Irish tunes, the band is joined by Kirk Steel playing piano accordion, who duets with Emma on piano. A very danceable set!
6. The mood dramatically changes with “Moreton Bay”, one of Australia’s earliest-known songs, based on the old Irish ballad “Boulavogue”. This harrowing tale of early convict life is set-up by Garry’s haunting accordion drones and Thomas’ marching drums.
7. Hugh McDonald’s powerful song “The Diamantina Drover”, about the allure of the drover’s life and the passage of time, lends itself to some misty electric guitar licks from Stuart French (on lead guitar) and another of Mark’s moody fiddle solos.
8. The flat-out brag of “The Ryebuck Shearer”, a vigorous yarn about the shearer’s prowess and speed is next and features all the band playing flat-out to heighten the excitement.
9. “The Wild Colonial Boy”, is another very early Australian song (also much loved in Ireland) about the bushranger Jack Doolan (or Donoghue or Duggan etc. etc.), who arrives at an early age and defies the British rule and takes to the road as our most famous highwayman: “I’ll fight but not surrender”, cried the Wild Colonial Boy!!!”
10. “Morningtown Ride” a song made famous around the world by “The Seekers”, features a father-daughter duet with Ross and Emma telling this delightful tale about a magical train ride.
11. In the best folk tradition, “Come By The Hills” found its way to Australia with the early Irish convicts and settlers and eventually became about our own spectacular homeland. The track features Emma’s haunting vocals and is backed by Garry’s romantic piano accordion.
12. The final track on the album is Peter Allen’s stirring “I Still Call Australia Home”. Featuring a dynamic arrangement by Thomas Hamilton and some soaring electric guitar by John Knight, the track sees the end of the first part of our music journey across the vast brown land.
We hope you enjoy “Greatest Australian Songs Volume 1”.