We Have Survived: 6 Anthems Of Indigenous Australia

We Have Survived: 6 Anthems Of Indigenous Australia

joe geia
Joe Geia. Image via YouTube. 

Last week’s NAIDOC Week celebrations inspired us to delve a little deeper into the archives to bring you half a dozen Indigenous anthems which we think a lot of ILYOS readers might not have heard, but will definitely enjoy. No Archie Roach or Warumpi Band here as we covered them last week (see here) and no Yothu Yindi or Gurrumal either, as we figure their big tracks get pretty good coverage as it is. There’s some powerful, inspiration music here – give it a listen.

No Fixed Address | “We Have Survived”

No Fixed Address came out of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) in North Adelaide in 1979 and were the first of many notable Aboriginal reggae bands. Featuring the charismatic Bart Willoughby on drums and vocals, No Fixed Address beat the Warumpi Band in taking Indigenous music to the pubs, and they certainly became the first to feature on the cover of a national music magazine when Roadrunner featured them  in 1980. No Fixed Address, along with Us Mob, were also the first to star in a feature length film when Wrong Side of the Road – part doco, part drama - was released into cinemas nationally in 1981.

Vic Simms | “Stranger in My Country”

One of the legendary figures of Aboriginal Country Music, Vic was in Bathurst Gaol when RCA decided to record a live album on him. Although the backing was sadly a bit bland, the strength of Vic’s songs cut through, making The Loner a now-revered classic.  

Joe Geia | “Yil Lull“


Singer/songwriter, guitarist and didgeridoo player Joe Geia first came to attention in No Fixed Address and has performed around the world. He released his classic single and album Yil Lull to coincide with the Bicentenial in 1988. The song continues to resonate; Christine Anu, Paul  Kelly, Peter Garrett, Renee Geyer and Kutcha Edwards song it together at the AFL’s Dreamtime at the G round in 2006.  In Joe’s Kuku Yalanji language “Yil Lull” means “Sing.”

Ruby Hunter | “Down City Streets”

Archie Roach’s better half was an accomplished singer and songwriter herself, and was a constant in Archie’s music – it was her encouragement that got him started, and she contributed the now iconic “Down City Streets” to his Charcoal Lane album - until her passing in  2010. She released three albums; the last, simply titled Ruby, with Archie as well as the Australian Art Orchestra & Paul Grabowsky, featured her own version of “Down City Streets.”

Kev Carmody | “Thou Shalt Not Steal”

A powerful, angry song, with a sound that wouldn’t be out of place on Bob Dylan’s Desire album; “Thou Shalt Not Steal” throws the teachings of the white missionaries  – who represented the powers that first stole the Black Man’s land and then his children – back in their faces. “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is not as well known as Kev’s co-write with Paul Kelly, “From Little Things” but it deserves to be – it casts into sharp relief the hypocrisy that has been piled on top of the indignities, and its power cannot be denied.

Bob Randall | “Brown Skin Baby”

Written in 1970, “Brown Skin Baby” preceded Archie Roach’s “Took the Children Away” in speaking of the Stolen Generation. Never a hit, the song has remained well known and has often been performed by others. In addition to his music, Randall authored books, acted, taught, directed cultural institutions and much more.

If you want to immerse your self in more classic Indigenous Anthems, as well a selection of more contemporary artists, check out the 2017 collection Nima Presents The Sound Of Indigenous Australia: Now & Before (2CD), here.  

Listen to No Fixed Address on Spotify:

Listen to No Fixed Address on Apple Music:

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