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STACK Issue 118 (Aug'14)
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 Music Features
  : :  Archie Roach: Creation
 Archie Roach: Creation 
One of the most profoundly affecting voices Australia has ever heard.

Archie Roach: Creation
Hereís the test of a proper colossus of a singer-songwriter. Forget the four albums Archie Roach (above) made for Mushroom Records between 1990 and 2002, produced by Paul Kelly, Steve Connolly, David Bridie, Malcolm Burn and Richard Pleasance and handsomely housed in this elegant foldout package of picture discs.

Listen instead to the 14 bonus tracks, some from far less salubrious times, most with minimal polish and all deemed less worthy of release at the time of their recording on kitchen table tape-decks and stolen demo dates. Together, they tell a story thatís no less jawdropping than the official legend.

They include an early but already whole version of Took the Children Away and a tragicomic drinking song, Hung Over, that failed to make the cut of the Charcoal Lane LP despite some turns of phrase that would make George Jones cough up his breakfast.

They include a live version of Weeping In the Forest from Canada, Tell Me Why from Melbourne Concert Hall and Walking Into Doors from Sydney Opera House: gentle laments for land, broken family and abused women delivered sans studio sparkle or safety net.

They include alternately cheeky and downcast stories about police harassment, institutionalised vilification and footy on the streets of Melbourne, with members of Tiddas and Weddings Parties Anything riding shotgun.

They include a spare and perfect demo of Mulyawongk, a song of memoriam that enshrines his soul mate Ruby Hunter in the eternal present tense of the riverís flow. That one wound up on album five, Into the Bloodstream, but the ultimate musing on mortality, I Donít Wanna Go, is yet to make the leap from simply strummed acoustic guitar and one of the most profoundly affecting voices this country has ever heard.

Stick all that in your iPod and play it. Then remember, there are also four official albums involved here.

- Michael Dwyer

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