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Goanna - 1982 Spirit Of Place

ARTIST: Goanna
ALBUM: Spirit Of Place
LABEL: WEA (Aust), Atco (USA)
SERIAL: 600127, 90081-1
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1986, WEA (Aust), 600127-2


LINEUP: Shane Howard - vocals, guitar * Carl Smith - bass * Gary Crothall - drums * Roslyn Bygrave - piano, synthesizer, organ, vocals * Warwick Harwood - guitar * Marcia Harwood - guitar, synthesizer, vocals * Graham Davidge - guitar * Peter Coughlan - bass * Robert Ross - drums * Michael O'Connor - background vocals * Billy Inda - didgeridoo

TRACK LISTING: 01 Cheatin' Man * 02 Solid Rock * 03 Razor's Edge * 04 Scenes * 05 Stand Yr' Ground * 06 Borderline * 07 On The Platform * 08 Four Weeks Gone * 09 Factory Man * 10 Children Of The Southern Land

Here's a group that was a big success in their native Australia at a time when music from 'down under' was becoming all the rage in America as well as Europe, thanks in part for better or worse to MTV and Men at Work. Of course we all knew there were plenty of good things coming out of Oz in the 1970's, but it was encouraging to hear so many new bands signed and making their way to record stores and Walkman's in mass, including Goanna and their first album 'Spirit Of Place'. Formed in the late 1970's in Geelong, The Goanna Band as they called themselves was essentially a folk-rock outfit led by Shane Howard, a sort of Australian everyman with a keen interest in Aussie history and culture.

The Songs
And indeed, 'Spirit of Place' plays out like a cool conceptual piece with the inside sleeve sporting drawings of Australian life in the first half of the twentieth century, although musically the album is firmly grounded in 1982. With a warm, laid back and a sophisticated progressive pop sound, the Alan Parsons Project and Tarney Spencer Band come to mind immediately on 'Cheatin' Man', but it's on the massive single 'Solid Rock' that Goanna come into their own. Featuring didgeridoo, apparently the record company was a bit queasy over releasing it at all, since the song addresses Australia's indigenous people which was and still is a touchy subject. With a hot solo from former Little River Band guitarist Graham Davidge, the song even managed a spot on the lower recesses of the American charts. 'Razor's Edge' was also pulled as a single, and managed a spot in Australia's top 40 although not nearly as successful as the former with a very light country rock flavour. Keyboardist Roslyn Bygrave takes the lead vocal spot on the upbeat 'Stand Yr Ground' and side two's 'On The Platform' but for the most part this is Shane Howard's gig as the excellent 'Borderline' hints at the much missed Racing Cars while 'Children Of The Southern Land' closes the album like a setting dusty red sun and hope for a new day.

In Summary
I've never been big on music with political messages and taking a listen to a good portion of music that came out of San Francisco in the late '60s should be example enough for the current batch of Conservative/Tea Party/Palin bashers to take heed that 'activist' music becomes embarrassingly irrelevant very quickly. With that said the political bent of 'Spirit Of Place' is easier to stomach since I'm not Australian and easily detached from what's subtly hinted at here since the music melodic to the core, more than makes up for the lyrical pandering. Two other Goanna albums were released; 'Oceania' in 1985 and 'Spirit Returns' in 1988 although I've yet to hear the latter or any of the Shane Howard solo albums which from what I've read, dig even deeper into the mysteries of Australia.

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#1 | Traveller in time on October 13 2010 21:10:01
The band also made a EP in the year 1979.
Title was: ' Living on the razor`s edge'

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