The Eureka Suite
I intend to tease you this time. This CD is only available on a limited basis and you will need to contact the band's website to find out more. The reason that I am reviewing an album that may need some work to obtain is because I love it. This is living history, loving music and an essential asset to any collection.
The Eureka Suite tells the sad and inspiring tale of the roots of Australian independence and vigour. There is a beautiful narration that sets the scene for the music and songs of John Munro.
The title refers to the Eureka Stockade and the events of 1854, but the suite sets the scene going back to the native Australians on the evocative track "Waiting." The story then moves into the discovery of gold and the influx of miners and prospectors.
"Something's Coming" featuring vocals by the inimitable Kat Kraus brings that exploration to life. The discovery of the gold is likewise brought vividly to life on "The Land Belongs to Them."
The personal cost of the exploration is not forgotten. On the track "Loyalty" we hear the female voice as a wife recounting her true story of life and how the "lust for gold" affected the families. And, as ever, the dream became a nightmare.
The powerful forces of government wanted their share and imposed severe taxes and costs on the men who tried to make their fortune. Like America, France and myriad countries, these penal taxes and repression moved the ordinary people to rebellion and to want the yoke of tyranny thrown off. At Ballarat leaders rose up, people aspired and government cracked down.
"Bentley's Pub" tells us of the catalyst as a wealthy pub owner kills a miner and is acquitted in a court. This was the flame that lit the fuse of Eureka Stockade. The dilemma of those times is captured in "The Queen's Justice," as a soldier sings of his position as the troops were sent against the people. It is a poignant song that reminds us that all too often both sides feel that God is on their side.
"Bakery Hill" brings us to the point as the people feel the power of unity in spite of the loss of life to better trained troops. Then on "Rebellion" we hear the voice of Peter Lawlor, an ordinary man who saw this union develop. He reminds us across the years "the fight goes on, Eureka's memory lingers on." Despite the loss of the battle, the people won the war.
This CD is a unique record, well researched and passionately written and performed, of a period in Australian history. But this is not a parochial story. These people of Eureka came from many lands and the story is echoed in most of our histories. Listen to it for the songs, the stories or the feeling of history. Then remember your own ordinary men and women who fought whatever fight to make your life better.
The CD is enhanced with the script and lyrics to add to your enjoyment.