“The Game is Getting Lively – Songs of the Weddin Mountain Bushrangers” is a collection of 13 songs relating the remarkable story of the bushrangers of central western New South Wales – Ben Hall, Frank Gardiner, Johnny Gilbert, John Dunn and the rest of the gang. The songs are drawn primarily from traditional sources, with a couple of brand new settings to old poems, offering a fascinating insight into people’s perception of the bushrangers in the midst of the wild gold rush era. The CD comes with a substantial booklet including background information, lyrics, timeline and a map of the region.
Collector – The Game is Getting Lively
Review by Chris Spencer
Collector are a group of seven musicians from central western NSW, formed in 2001 who, before this album, had already released three albums.
Two of its members, Chloe and Jason Roweth, have also released recordings in their own right.
Collector play instruments such as fiddle, bouzouki, dulcimer, banjo, whistle, guitar, mandolin and drums.
For this album, the band has collected 13 songs about bushrangers.
Many readers will be familiar with most of these songs, such as ‘The Ballad of Ben Hall, Bold Ben Hall’ and ‘The Streets of Forbes’.
The album is accompanied by an elaborate booklet, which provides some historical information about the bushrangers, particularly those who worked in Central NSW.
The band also relates how they found the song, or from whom they learnt it, and explain why sometimes, there are different versions or tunes.
For example, I was not familiar with the tune they used for ‘The Streets of Forbes’.
In fact, the band relates that they had recorded a previous version of ‘The Morning of the Fray’ on a previous album, as they had for ‘The Death of Ben Hall.’
I like the way Collector alternates male and female lead vocals in the album.
The arrangements are diverse and the playing excellent.
In ‘John Gilbert, Bushranger,’ the band inserts a Lancers/ Alberts dance tune which works well.
In ‘How Gilbert Died,’ the Roweths have written the music to an A.B.
Banjo Patterson poem. It is so well composed that it sounds as if it is an ancient tune.
Several songs remind me of the work of Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span, perhaps because of the strong female vocals and the use of drums.
One can’t complain about that!
However, I wouldn’t describe Collector’s sound in general as folk rock.
This is an enjoyable album that I recommend for those who prefer their folk in the ‘traditional’ mould, to those who enjoy history and learning more about the background of our Australian folk heritage.