To celebrate the 40th anniversary of their seminal hit ‘Solid Rock’, Goanna have released an updated version featuring Emma Donovan and William Barton.
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The iconic track was initially released in September of 1982, marking Goanna’s debut single and, to this day, their biggest hit. In 2002, frontman Shane Howard explained that he’d been inspired to write it after a 10-day camping trip on the site of Uluru; during his time there, the songwriter supposedly experienced a “spiritual awakening”, which lit “the fire in [his] belly” over the oppression faced by the Indigenous peoples of so-called Australia.
Speaking to The Standard last week, Howard said of the newly released re-recording: “There was an impetus to have it as a bookend version to close the year of Goanna with a 21st century version of the song that honoured a lot of elements of the original.”
Noting that he was drawn to re-record the song after revisiting the Uluru site this year, he added: I started the year at the Sydney Opera House on January 26 with Will Barton and Emma Donovan. We did ‘Solid Rock’ and that brought in many artists including a community from Uluru, and a choir from Sydney, translating the song into Gadigal and Eora language.
“Then I ended up back at Uluru which was quite amazing, so it was like a circle. It was recorded in Melbourne, Geelong and Killarney.”
‘Solid Rock, Sacred Ground 2022’ largely stays true to the original song, with the addition of Donovan’s stirring tenor in a poignant verse of her own, and a newly tracked didjeridu performance from Barton. The track’s string section is also spotlit more in this version, with a new arrangement penned by Ruth Roshan and performed by members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Have a listen to ‘Solid Rock, Sacred Ground 2022’ below, then compare it to the original version:
‘Solid Rock’ also appeared on Goanna’s debut album, ‘Spirit Of Place’, in November of 1982. Particularly notable as the first charting rock record to feature the didjeridu, it went on to be certified Platinum four times over, and has long been considered one of the most important releases in Australian music history. Back in September of this year, it was reissued digitally and on vinyl to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
In a statement published by The Music, Howard said of his aim to continue the activism he started with the record: “We’ve come a long way as a nation in the past 40 years, but there is more to be done to achieve meaningful justice for First Nations peoples. Life is still too hard for most Aboriginal peoples in this country. The prosperity we enjoy in this nation comes on the back of unbearable sorrow and loss for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.
“Back in 1982, ‘Solid Rock’ called for meaningful change. ‘Solid Rock, Sacred Ground 2022’ calls for us to engage, build meaningful relationships and finish the promise of our generation to make those changes for a better future for the coming generations.”
Also last week, Howard appeared at the Victorian state memorial service for the late Archie Roach, where he performed music from the revered Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung) and Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller’s catalogue.