Warning for Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous readers: The following story contains mention of deceased persons.
Archie Roach has announced a reimagined version of his debut album, ‘Charcoal Lane’, to mark 30 years since its original release.
‘The Songs of Charcoal Lane’ was recorded in Roach’s kitchen in southwest Victoria during lockdown with musicians Stephen Magnusson and Sam Anning, along with recording engineer Hadyn Buxton.
Ahead of its November 13 release, Roach has shared a new version of ‘Took The Children Away’. The rework arrives with a music video of Roach recording the vocals, interspersed with archival photos and illustrations by his late partner and musical collaborator Ruby Hunter. Watch the video below.
Roach launched a picture-book edition of the song this week, also featuring illustrations by Hunter.
The year after its 1990 release, ‘Charcoal Lane’ won two ARIA Awards – for Best New Talent and Best Indigenous Release – while the single ‘Took The Children Away’ won an Australian Human Rights Achievement Award. It was the first time a songwriter had won the award.
In a press statement, Roach said the relaxed recording environment gave the new album “an intimacy [and] a closeness”.
“I have been so much more relaxed sitting here at my kitchen table with a cup of tea, looking out at my yard, recording the songs, maybe doing 2 to 3 takes. When we listen back to the recordings you can sense that there’s a different feel, a more relaxed approach to the songs, it’s more earthy,” he said.
“Over the past 30 years I have written most of my songs at the kitchen table, when my children were little and running around. Ruby and the children were the first to hear them. As I have matured so have the songs, it’s like they have grown with me. I think I understand them a lot better now than I did 30 years ago… it’s probably how they should have been sung.”
The Archie Roach Stolen Generations Educational Resources was also launched this week, after Roach spent the last three months gathering the stories of Indigenous Elders. Per NITV, it features filmed conversations with Stolen Generations survivors discussing intergenerational trauma, and other significant topics around Indigenous identity.