Archie Roach’s Charcoal Lane, 25 Years On – A Review

Read our review of Archie Roach’s anniversary edition of Charcoal Lane

Archie Roach’s iconic 1990 debut Charcoal Lane is celebrating twenty-five years and has been given an impressive make-over by Festival Records and Warner Music Australia.

This November saw the release of a new edition of Charcoal Lane, a double CD which includes the remastered version of the original album.

A second disc includes five acoustic tracks (recorded live for Triple j’s Live at the Wireless in 1990), and some new recordings of Charcoal Lane material by other artists.  The unlikely but successful pairing of Paul Kelly and Courtney Barnett on the song “Charcoal Lane” is a highlight, as is the blistering take on “The Children Came Back” by Briggs & Gurrumul & Dewayne Everettsmith.  The complete list of covers follows:

Paul Kelly & Courtney Barnett “Charcoal Lane”

Dan Sultan & Emma Donovan “Munjuna”

Marlon Williams & Leah Flanagan “I’ve Lied”

Ellie Lovegrove & Nancy Bates “Beautiful Child”

Emma Donovan & The PutBacks (Featuring Archie Roach) “Down City Streets”

Radical Son & Urthboy Produced by Trials “No No No”

Briggs & Gurrumul & Dewayne Everettsmith “The Children Came Back”


Charcoal Lane was co-produced by Steve Connolly and Paul Kelly and immediately put Roach into the national spotlight, such was the power and impact of the songs.  The album won Roach two ARIA awards, achieved gold sales and an international ‘Human Rights Achievement Award’ for the song “Took The Children Away”.  The song was written by Roach about his own experience as a member of the Stolen Generations: he was forcibly removed from his own family and community at a young age.

The succession of albums that begun with Charcoal Lane was momentarily halted in 2010 with the death of his wife and singer-songwriter Ruby Hunter, and his subsequent stroke and battle with lung cancer.  Roach ‘came back’ with the much-acclaimed album Into The Bloodstream in 2012, which was followed by the 4CD collection Creation in 2013.

The new deluxe edition of Charcoal Lane includes an excellent twenty-eight page booklet featuring previously unseen images from the era and lengthy liner notes.

Having a remastered copy of Charcoal Lane is treasure enough, but the second disk provides other perspectives of these landmark songs and, coupled with the acoustic live versions of Roach and Ruby Hunter and the wealth of material in the booklet, ensure that this twenty-fifth edition is a real collectors’ gem.

Via Footstomp Music


Read our review of Archie Roach’s anniversary edition of Charcoal Lane




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Author: Rob Dickens

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