Ross Wilson Presents Living in the Land of Oz!

Ross Wilson Presents Living in the Land of Oz!

ross wilson
Ross Wilson. Image supplied. 

Ahead of the special Ross Wilson Presents Living In The Land of Oz event in Melbourne on January 26, ILYOS presents a number of rare versions of Wilson’s classic early solo song from which the event takes its name, as well as two rare alternative clips for Daddy Cool’s “Eagle Rock”, the 50th Anniversary of which Wilson will also be marking on the day.

Ross Wilson presents Living in the Land of Oz is a special one-off show taking place on January 26. The event takes its name from Ross’ ground-breaking 1976 first solo single, which was the first white rock record to address Indigenous issues. It is also Wilson’s first show in a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the record-smashing first Daddy Cool album and his signature tune “Eagle Rock”. The outdoor afternoon show in new venue Melbourne Pavilion Live Outdoor (just minutes from the CBD) features Ross Wilson & The Peaceniks, Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission and Jessie Lloyd’s Mission Songs Project.

While the 50th anniversary of Daddy Cool’s history-making arrival is, of course, a big deal, Ross is at the moment more intent on supporting a cause that is close to his heart.

Ross says of the concert: “I’m looking forward to playing my songs in context on Survival Day in support of First Nations people. ‘Living In The Land Of Oz’ was released in 1976 and sadly its lyrics of dispossession & institutional racism still resonate today. #changethedate”

“Living in the Land of Oz” is a significant song in Wilson’s repertoire and his first solo single. It was not only first white rock record to address Indigenous issues, but also the theme song to the 1976 feature film Oz (a.k.a. Oz – A Rock 'n' Roll Road Movie)  by Wilson’s old mate Chris Löfvén – the man who made the previously made “Eagle Rock” film clip.

The bright, celebratory vibe of “Living In The Land of Oz” veils brilliantly dark and subversive lyrics. Lyrics like “150 years ago the black man lived in peace and the land was still / Now a city of millions covers the soil and the blacks have all been killed” and “Now I don’t know how it happened but it happened just the same / Now the whites are rich and the blacks are dead and no one seems ashamed”.

The song also addressed our nation's then still-recent White Australia policy: “The government of this wonderful land, they sent men all around the world / Just to tell everyone it was the perfect place to raise their boys and girls / If you’re white you can come alright but if you’re black you’d better get back /  Because they took a lot of trouble just to kill ‘em all off, don’t wanna have to do it again.”

Pretty blunt stuff for the times hey? And no it wasn’t a hit. But while the song predated similarly-themed material by the likes of Goanna, Midnight Oil and Paul Kelly by half a decade, it has endured. In 1989 it was featured on the groundbreaking collection released by CAAMA entitled Building Bridges (Australia Has A Black History) collection alongside the aforementioned artists and the likes of No Fixed Address, Yothu Yindi, Coloured Stone and others. And it remains in Ross' set, alongside classic material from Daddy Cool, Mondo Rock and his solo work.

Indeed, as you can see here, “Living In The Land of Oz” featured in Mondo Rock’s set back in their prime, and Melbourne icons the Dingoes, with Brod Smith upfront, were playing it before Ross even recorded it.

Ross Wilson Presents Living in the Land of Oz starring Ross Wilson & The Peaceniks, Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission and Jessie Lloyd's Mission Songs Project takes place on the afternoon of  January 26 at Melbourne Pavilion Live Outdoor, 135-157 Racecourse Road, Kensington VIC, 3031. Let’s finish off with this recently discovered live version of Ross’ signature tune, Daddy Cool’s “Eagle Rock”, from Adelaide TV back in ’71, as well as the alternative film clip that was most likely made for the American market back in the day..

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