Archie Roach is a truly gifted and inspiring talent. Born at Framlingham Aboriginal mission, Warrnambool in south western Victoria, Archie was taken from his family at an early age as part of the notorious 'stolen generation'.
Institutionalised, and then fostered, the Archie Roach story has been well documented. A former homeless alcoholic, Archie Roach recorded his first record, Charcoal Lane, in 1990 with Paul Kelly as producer.
The album contained Took the Children Away, a song that dealt with Archie's personal experience as one of what is now called the 'stolen generation' of Aboriginal people.
The album won two Aria Awards and a Human Rights Award - the first time a Human Rights award has been awarded to a songwriter. It was also in the US Rolling Stone's Top 50 albums for 1992 and achieved gold status in Australia.
In 1992 Archie recorded Jamu Dreaming. Released in 1993, this album was recorded with musical assistance from David Bridie, Tiddas, Paul Kelly, Linda and Vika Bull, Ruby Hunter, Dave Arden and Joe Geia. Jamu Dreaming was nominated for an Aria Award in 1994 and was in Australia's Top 40.
Released in July 1997, Looking for Butter Boy was recorded on his traditional land at Port Fairy in South-Western Victoria. This album won three Aria Awards in 1998.
Aside from his recorded offerings and many awards, Archie has also performed with some of the top names in the entertainment business - including Paul Kelly, Weddings Parties Anything, Crowded House, Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, Bob Dylan, Joan Armatrading and Patti Smith.
“I thought writing the song Took The Children Away was, in part, a way of telling people that taking children from their families was not necessarily the best or only so-called solution concerning the child or their family’s well being. I was wrong.
We thought the Bringing Them Home report would see measures taken to ensure it should never happen again. We were wrong. We thought the Deaths in Custody report would help prevent such things happening. We were wrong.
Archie Roach releases his earliest recordings on an incredibly poignant album “Music Deli Presents Archie Roach - 1988”
(Winner Album of the Year – Deadly Awards 2010)
In 1988 much of Australia was celebrating the Bicentennial but a young Archie Roach was expressing in song what many who weren’t celebrating were feeling. For many indigenous people there was anger, despair, disadvantage, land rights battles and deaths in custody.
Archie Roach dealt with this by writing songs about his own experiences and feelings – and then performing these songs to whomever would listen. Then in early 1988 Paul Petran, the producer of ABC Radio’s ‘Music Deli’ program asked Archie if he would come into the studio to record a few songs to play on radio. Archie agreed.
Twenty one years later Archie launches his new album “Music Deli Presents Archie Roach -1988” with a series of shows. This album is the second in a series of important artist releases from the live archives of Music Deli and captures some of the first ever recordings by a young Archie Roach, available for the first time on November 13th.
The majority of the album recorded in 1988 captures Archie’s raw power and emotion in songs such as the moving “Took The Children Away”. Other highlights are “Weeping in the Forest” - recorded live at Melbourne Concert Hall in 1992 with Yothu Yindi and the “Christmas Eve” song with Paul Kelly - also recorded live in ABC studio in 1990. As a bonus at the end of the CD is an interview with Archie recorded on March 1st 1988, followed by a short interview recorded 20 years later in September 2008.
“While listening to these songs today 21 years later I felt a little uneasy about their pending release. I’m not quite sure what it was that made me feel this way. Maybe it was the language I now find rather offensive and would not use today.
I do know I was younger, angrier and crazier than I am today. I was also getting off the booze so maybe it was a way of getting rid of all the muck that had built up through the years, pouring it into songs rather than pouring alcohol into me.
Upon these reflections of 1988 I hope to take you back to another place where I once stood and have then moved on. That being said I am now looking forward to the release of these first recordings of my songs. As raw as they are this is where it all began”.
Yours in the struggle, Archie Roach