26 September 2023

Jamu Dreaming

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Archie Roach, Mushroom records 1993.

Jamu Dreaming was Archie’s follow up album to Charcoal Lane and after the success of his debut there was a marked step up in the money available, and its effect on production quality and resultant sound is notable.

Some of Australia’s best musicians filled out the musical backdrop including Peter Luscombe on drums, David Bridie on keyboards, and Vika & Linda Bull on backing vocals.

The lead single, From Paradise, once again delt with the pain associated with the stolen generation.

It’s a beautiful song and shows Archie’s development as a musician which was further emphasised by the incredible second single, Walking Into Doors.

The scourge of domestic violence is widespread and not limited by race or creed, Archie was not prepared to turn his back on the issue when it occurred in Aboriginal communities.

It’s an incredibly powerful song with its chorus specifically referencing indigenous men, but it has universal application.

So my brother don’t hurt her anymore, she’s got her lore, you’ve got yours

And she’s sick and tired of walking into doors.

Once again, it’s the clear-sighted honesty that shines through which is a trademark of Archie’s writing.

Archie’s standing as a respected elder gives him licence to speak the truth and requires others to listen.

And yet this one-time boxer has the ability to speak that truth forcefully and without menace.

It is a wonder to me that Archie can deal with these weighty issues with compassion and understanding and not be overcome with resentment and hate.

While there is sadness there is never resignation but rather resolution and positivity.

Maybe this is why we want to listen; we want to understand and learn from him.

I have had the privilege of seeing Archie in concert numerous times and I have watched as he’s coped with the pain of losing his wife and soulmate Ruby Hunter, and as his own health began to deteriorate.

And although I have never personally met him, I feel a strong connection.

His music has regularly moved me to tears but just as often had me soaring with elation.

Can there be a better accolade for a song writer?

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