Musical archaeologists extraordinaire Mississippi Records team up with Australia’s Flipping Yeah for this release, and an important one it is too. The eleven tracks here draw from the Australian Aboriginal country tradition, a music silenced as often as the people who have made it. The ‘country’ of the title is a broad church - while there are balladeers and down-home ditties here, there are also rockers, droning organ tracks and moving blues numbers. A unique record, Black Country comes with extensive reading.
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This vital collection poses a serious challenge to modern understandings of ‘country’ music and how it’s been canonized. ‘Buried Country’ is a compilation of aboriginal music from Australia, representing the songs of the country’s most oppressed and marginalised groups. It is, as such, a broad, far-reaching musical archeology, presenting pop songs alongside blues, organ tunes and traditional wind instrument sounds, clear fidelity against music of a production era where songs sounded like they were being played out from beneath buckets.
What Mississippi and Flippin Yeah have done is present the sheer breadth of music we haven’t heard from these silenced populations. “Sick of being treated like a mangy old dog” is a bluesy protest song; the gorgeous “The Coloured Lad” is a similar depiction of the civil rights struggle, Jimmy Little playing plaintively and quietly with little more than a gorgeously soft voice and ever-so-slightly brushed guitar. The bouncing guitar-line and wiry fiddle playing of “Black and white cat” offer a simple instrumental showing, the Brown Bros offering a simple example of their playing. Other songs provide an example of archetypical country storytelling: the plodding narrative of Dougie Young’s “They Call It Cut a Rug” will sound familiar to anyone with a traditional understanding of the genre, but its story comes from a new place.
Anyone with even the smallest interest in roots music should get this record: it is a recontextualisation of music history, putting a foot right in the growth and development of Australian music. This LP version offers an extensive booklet of liner notes breaking down the songs and their musicians.
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