Restless Music’s best selling album to date. Written by Bill Scott – one of Australia’s finest poets – performed by Penny & Roger who have brought his work to the ears of millions of Australians.
DVD and a song book are both available separately.
CD Review by 2021 Tony Smith
Bill Scott received the O.A.M. in 1992 for his valuable services to Australian folklore.
In 1999 long term friends and collaborators, Penny Davies and Roger Ilott, recorded this remarkable collection of 22 of Scott’s songs with their special focus on Queensland.
Davies and Ilott sing the tracks and provide instrumental backing on a range of instruments.
They are supported by Jordan Davies-Ilott (backing vocals and percussion), Sharon Doro (button accordion), Maree Hennessy and Teri Welles (backing vocals) and Bill Rodgers (Celtic harp).
The sleeve notes feature Scott’s poem about opal mining.
‘Long ago, before there were clocks
A rainbow crept inside these rocks
Now in the darkness I burrow and creep
Waking that light from its age-old sleep.’
What a great metaphor the opal provides for the hidden mysteries of this land and indeed for the folklorist’s activity in unlocking its beauties.
Scott’s songs are predominantly about Queensland.
The album opens with the classic ‘Hey Rain’ and includes songs about sugar cane, drovers and lighthouses.
Various locations are mentioned including Tully, Stanthorpe and a ‘Brisbane Girl’.
No doubt, Bill Scott had a background tale about each of these 22 songs and while they all stand alone and are given clear expression by Davies and Ilott, it would be great to see the sleeve notes provide some of that context.
Scott was after all, not just a writer but a collector who would be glad to acknowledge some of the characters who suggested these songs.
For me the best sounding tracks are those which have some button accordion (my prejudice), but the lyrics make a few songs stand out.
‘A Drover’s Life’ is an ear worm with a catchy chorus.
The song begins ‘A drover’s life is lonely but a drover’s life is free’.
‘Rain in the Channel Country’ is a great tale of the environment and describes how the land changes in the wet season, listing many bird species.
‘Old Man’s Song’ reflects on what a young man did ‘but it’s way ho, now I am old … the morning is silver the sunset is gold …I sit in the sun, thinking and dreaming of the things I have done …but I’d go out and do it all over again…what good is your life if it isn’t a song’.
On Opal Miner, Bill Scott, Penny Davies and Roger Ilott, show how true that remark is.