The Bold Bushrangers
— Volume One —
Songs of Wild Colonial Days
Lionel Long is now firmly established as a recording and television artist, and night-club entertainer. He is generally regarded as Australia's top folk singer and balladist, and his work is rapidly drawing attention outside this country.
Lionel Passed away in 1995.
When Ken Cook first submitted audition tapes of twelve of these songs for Lionel to hear, Lionel was so enthusiastic about them that, in addition to assisting in their musical arrangements, he suggested that the series should be extended to twenty-four. This was done and the collection in this album is the result.
Unlike his earlier records, in which he was accompanied either by an orchestra or a sextette with vocal group, Lionel is heard in this new album in what may be called a "straight" presentation, thus achieving the more authentic folk song style. On some of the tracks his own guitar is his only accompaniment, while on others the addition of Don Andrews on guitar and Dave Guard on banjo still retain the directness and simplicity of true folk music.
Dave Guard — Don Andrews
This collection of bushranging ballads came into being when the Australian novelist, Kenneth Cook, was asked by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to give a series of talks on Bushranging. To enliven the talks, Cook decided to include songs of those days. However, considerable searching for such songs produced the conclusion that there were not many extant that were suitable. Still determined to use bush-ranging songs of the A.B.C. programmes, Cook decided to write them. He selected as the basis for his melodies Irish. English and American folk songs appropriate to the time, and he wrote the lyrics in the style used by the balladists who have recorded Australian folk history. His wife, Patricia, sang the songs for the A.B.C., and the flood of letters that resulted was so great that he decided to approach a recording company. This Columbia album is the outcome.
Moreton Bay: The penal settlements of Australia were all places of universal horror, but naturally each man thought the place to which he had been condemned was the worst. Individual overseers, such as Captain Logan mentioned in this song, were so widely loathed that many men thought hanging a worthwhile price to pay for the pleasure of killing them. Captain Logan was in fact killed by natives, but many overseers met their deaths at the hands of the men whom they goaded to the point where there was nothing left to fear.
One summer morning as I went walking,
By Brisbane waters I chanced to stray,
I heard a convict his fate bewailing,
As on the sunny river bank he lay,
I am a native of Erin's island,
Oh banished now from my native shore,
They tore me from my aged parents,
And from the maiden whom I adore.
I've been a prisoner at Port Macquarie,
At Norfolk Island and Emu Plains,
At Castle Hill and at Toongabbie,
At all those settlements I've worked in chains,
But of all those places of condemnation,
And penal stations in New South Wales,
In Moreton Bay I have found no equal,
Excessive tyranny each day prevails.
For three long years I've been badly treated,
With heavy irons on my legs I wore,
My back with flogging is lacerated,
And painted with my own crimson gore,
And many a man from downright starvation,
Lies mouldering now underneath the clay,
And Captain Logan he had us tortured,
At the pillories down at Moreton Bay.
Like the Egyptians and ancient Hebrews,
We were oppressed under Logan's yoke,
Till a native black waiting there in ambush,
Did give this tyrant his mortal stroke,
My fellow prisoners be exhilarated,
That all such monsters such death may find,
And when from bondage we're liberated,
Our former suffering shall fade from mind.
The cover painting of "Ned Kelly" by Sidney Nolan is reproduced by permission of the artist and the Museum of Modern Art and Design of Australia, Melbourne.