Eric Bogle,
The Colour of Dreams
(Greentrax, 2002)

Eric Bogle was born in Scotland but now lives in Australia. He is perhaps best known, almost anonymously, as a songwriter who gave us tracks like "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" and "The Green Fields of France," which were massive hits in numerous countries for other singers. Who recalls the writers?

This new CD is a collection of brand new material and I reckon that from the 16 tracks there are at least 12 top-class songs with a potential to move all but the most stony hearted.

The title track is a sort of mini-history of the late 20th century, as Bogle recalls where he was when some momentous events occurred. Thankfully he does not include the Kennedy assassination. This is a song of social conscience with Martin Luther King, Neil Armstrong and Nelson Mandela as the characters. It also preaches non-violence -- "one by one the walls came tumbling down, and not by weapons or machines, but by people with nothing more than dreams."

On "Koala Cafe" he sounds more upbeat but the sentiments are those of a village or town in decline as it loses its bank and school. This is a song to resonate in any country with small communities in danger. Bogle revisits the heart-rending problem of the treatment of native peoples in his song "Reconciliation," which charts the "education" of the Aboriginal Australians.

"One Morning in Bar Harbour" recalls the events of Sept. 11 but in a muted form. There is genuine feeling in the song but it avoids flag waving and anger as it brings the events to a more personal level. "A day of hell was dawning that made that sweet warm day seem bitter cold." He brings that surreal touch of reality to the event with the lines, "When the towers came down, in the woodlands birds were singing."

As always on a Bogle album there are sad songs mixed with fun songs and all have a message to impart. The tracks here move from the sentiments covered already to global economy, immigration and spirituality. Unusually for Bogle there is one track that is not solely his own. The track "Soaring Free" uses the words of a poem written about his hometown of Peebles by Maureen Sansom. It is a delightful track with Bogle returning to sing in a sort of dialect that suits both his voice and the lyrics.

"Cradle to the Grave" is sort of downgraded in his notes saying that he just likes a good hymn, but a feeling of spirituality does show through and makes this a beautiful song, sung with emotion.

Sadly, I was disappointed on one or two tracks. It was not so much the content of the songs but Bogle, a very good singer and writer, did what I absolutely detest in music. He used what I call "elasticated lyrics." This is a sin more often committed by Irish country singers where they draw out single words simply to fit the rhythm. Having said that, 14 out of the 16 tracks will please the most discerning ear and we do have programmable CD players.

It is no secret that I enjoy the music of Eric Bogle, but I do not blindly follow, and this CD is a "must have" addition to my collection. I can almost guarantee that one or two of these tracks will be classics in a decade from now -- probably for another artist -- but buy it now and have the original.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 4 January 2003

Buy it from