Warren Fahey & Luke Webb – The World Turned Upside Down


The gold-rush of the mid-19th century changed Australia forever adding well-over a million people in just two decades. On this album (accompanied by comprehensive booklet notes), cultural historian, Warren Fahey, (a regular on ABC Radio) shows the influence of American minstrel music and parodies on our gold songs and folksong tradition. With over 70 minutes of music you will also find some good honest doggerel but remember these sometimes awkward rhymes delighted many a lonely miner as he sat by the campfire at night.

CD Review by Chris Spencer

I would hope that the work of Warren Fahey will be well known to all of our readers.

Over the past decade he has released a dozen albums, including a series of multiple cd sets issued through ABC records.

He describes himself as a folklorist, record producer, author, performer and oral historian.

He has performed with The Larrikins, The Celebrated Knickers and Knockers Band and the Australian Bush Orchestra.

His website (www. warenfahey.com) has a lot more information about the man and his work.

You might ask why he has decided to release this album. And who is Luke Webb The album is sub-titled Songs from the Australian Gold Rush era.

The words of the songs included on the album, plus another 100 songs about gold can be found in the accompanying e-book of the same name.

The book is a social history of the Australian gold era from 1850-1900 and includes stories, reminiscences and songs taken from early newspapers, magazines and the oral tradition.

I did find the liner notes interesting and the thorough notes about each song are illuminating.

In his introduction, Fahey, makes the assertions that many songs from the gold era were influenced by American minstrel music and that parody played a major part in the entertainment of miners, singing new words to old tunes that made the songs easier to remember and sing at the next gathering.

To this end, this collection features several songs by Charles Thatcher. (Another band that I came across recently, Ragamuffin, also recorded a cassette album called ‘Gold’ on which they recorded several Thatcher songs.)

There is also generous use of the piano.

The arrangements are simple, uncluttered with Fahey’s voice up front. Songs and parodies of Thatcher include “Jolly Puddlers” (sung to the tune of “The Jolly Waggoner”). “Where’s Your Licence” (“The Gay Cavalier”), Coming Down the Flat” (“Comin’ through the Rye”), “The Fine Fat Saucy Chinaman” (The Fine Fat English Gentleman”), “Look Out Below”, “Shipping Agents” (Campdown Races”).

A song atributed to Joe Small aka George Chanson, include “The Nugget Family” (“Guy Fawkes”). “the World is now Turned Upside Down” uses the tune to “Oh Suzannah”.

Other tracks not mentioned already include “Off to the Diggings”, “The Rush to Glanmire”, “Where’s Your License”, “Dunn, Gilbert & Ben Hall”, “The Bail up at Eugowra Rocks”, “Sam Holt”, and “The New Chum Chinaman”.

Three songs that will be familiar to readers include “The Maryborough Miner”, “A Thousand Miles Away and “WIth a Swag All on my Shoulder”.

Musicians that Fahey has called upon to assist include, Sydney based musician Luke Webb on banjo and guitar, long time associate Marcus Holden, a multi instrumentalist, and the engineer of this recording, Garry Steel (piano accordion) and Elsen Price on bass.

Two tracks are culled from a previous recording session done by the Larrikins in the 1980’s “Frank Gardner He is Caught at Last” and “The Miner” – they do not sound out of place with the rest of the 22 tracks.

If you are interested in Australian music from this era, this is an essential purchase.

For other readers, this cd is certainly good value with over 72 minutes of music, providing some Australian folk songs that you may not be aware of.

3 in stock (can be backordered)

SKU: TN1946-40 Category:

Additional information

Weight .180 kg
Dimensions 22 × 16 × .50 cm