So does anyone out there remember this band? It seems they’re not remember at all. I what to know why this band is total forgotten about? Why does nobody remember Warumpi Band? It seems they have disappeared from all Aussie music history or are just some kind-of footnotes to Midnight Oil or something like that. Sorry but this band didn’t have a frontman who turn into a really bad politician and then wrote an Autobio and now released a not so good solo album too. The frontman George Burarrwanga of Warumpi Band passed away almost ten years ago now with lung cancer at the age of 50 but that news made little headlines in any media in this country at the time really.
They’re pretty much an Aboriginal band from the central desert region of the Northern Territory from settlement of Papunya. George Burarrwanga on vocals and didgeridoo, Gordon Butcher on drums, his brother Sammy Butcher on guitar and bass guitar, and Neil Murray on rhythm guitar who was the only white bloke in the original line-up who was a teacher then visiting the settlement. I have to say now, it’s Murray’s two songs Breadline and Fitzroy Crossings on this album which are the ones that seem dated now, they’re not as great as the rest of them even if he co-writes all of the rest. Even this was the 80’s this was the very first Aussie band to record song in an Aboriginal language which was the Luritja dialect. The debut song called Jailanguru Pakarnu (Out from Jail) from 1983 was the very first rock song to do so. They conutiue to do so on the debut album called Big Name, No Blankets.
Last month here in Australia is Ausmusic month, mainly an made-up thingy by radio stations Triple J/Double J so they can play more Aussie music, why they need a reason is beyond me. So that month for say to programs one called Classic Albums too have had Head Injuries by Midnight Oil, Domestic Harmony by Do Re Mi, The Honeymoon Is Over by The Cruel Sea and last was Gotye’s Like Drawing Blood and also their J File program have Magic Dirt which I did write a post about them a few days ago. Also Silverchair and Crowded House and next is the best of New Zealand but sorry Crowded House is really NZ band because the main songwriter is a Kiwi even if the other two guys are Aussie. Anyway I do like even love couple of these bands and it’s not all bad music but it’s all so white music!
Anyway I’ll do my little bit here to remind you, blogland, anyone who clicks on this post about them or just intro them to you if you never heard of them. I guess why they’re always with Midnight Oil and comes up is because they give Warumpi Band there big break, playing support band to them and releasing this debut on their record label in the middle 80’s so thanks guys for bring them wider crowd then but on Wikipedia it says something about this band even missing the boat at the time after that record deal. I don’t know about that really. They play pretty much straight up Rock music and maybe like almost every other 80’s Aussie band formed around this time, it’s Aussie Pub Rock with a little bit of Reggae thrown in at times too. The major difference is that they did sing in their native tongue, well half the time and the other half in English on this album they did. My copy of it seems to have Sitdown Money but sometimes it’s not on this album, my is saying it’s a bonus track.
It’s such an iconic 80’s Aussie album cover really. An ute on a dirt road with bonnet up with someone drinking water from a cooler and three others in the back of the ute. I remember riding around so much back in those days in a back of a ute, no one care if you didn’t off course have seat belt or anything like now you couldn’t get away with this. I was even in a car accident once in back of a ute, everyone just laugh pushed it back on road and got it going again to get to where we were going.
The Warumpi Band’s Big Name, No Blankets album really does remind me of the 80’s and as a kid growing up in a small country town, it’s one of those records that take me back there. So I guess it like a childhood album, kind of the Marty Robbins and Adam and The Ants albums I’ve talk about before here but those from the US and the UK, this is the Aussie one I remember just as well but they’re a few more Aussie albums I’ve got to include sometime.
It’s was until the late 90’s at one of the Big Day Out fest show that I did get to see them play live too. They were like the opening band and so very early in the day and off course it was a small crowd at that time but I did enjoy it, finally seeing them live. George Burarrwanga come out later and sung, played didgeridoo solo with Soulfly which was Max Cavalera from Sepultura brand new band at the time. It was pretty cool seeing both those guys together on stage.
They’re most likely most well known for a song My Island Home that came out on the next album Go Bush in 1987 but was covered in the mid 90’s by Christine Anu. Two years ago for her Oz album Missy Higgins did a version of Blackfella/Whitefella which a duet with Crystal Itjuwalyi Butcher who’s Sammy Bulter young niece. Plus a few years ago doco was made about them which was named after this album, if you are looking for more info that’s where you should look.
A reissue came out in 2015 called Warumpi Band 4 Ever which was 2-CD of the three albums this debut and 87′ s Go Bush and 96’s Too Much Humbug plus some rare recording. That would be the easiest way to get there music now.
I’ve got to write about some other Aboriginal Classic Albums posts sooner or later because it should have more written about it but it’s mainly not by mainstream media or almost all press or anything in this country. So who else here remembers them? Why not leave a reply about Warumpi Band?
Big Name, No Blankets track listing and times
1. Waru (Fire) – 3:53
2. Blackfella/Whitefella – 3:30
3. Breadline – 4:19
4. Nyuntu Nyaal Tjirriku (What Are You Going To Do) – 4:14
5. Animal Song – 3:10
6. Warumpinya (Papunya) – 3:14
7. Wiima Tjuta (All The Kids) – 2:17
8. Fitzroy Crossings – 4:01
9. Sitdown Money – 2:40
10. Mulga & Spinifex Plain – 4:49
11. Gotta Be Strong – 3:11
All my Classic Albums posts are linked below, off course it’s a work in progress:
Tales From The Australian Underground – Volume 1 & 2 by Various Artists
Station To Station by David Bowie
Unplugged In New York by Nirvana
Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs by Marty Robbins
Henry’s Dream by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Whatever You Love, You Are by Dirty Three
In The Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn by Pink Floyd
Songs Of Love And Hate by Leonard Cohen
Warm Leatherette by Grace Jones
Silence Is Sexy by Einstürzende Neubauten
Kings Of The Wild Frontier by Adam And The Ants
Drowning In The Fountain Of Youth by Dan Kelly And The Alpha Males
Sings Christmas Carols by Mark Kozelek
What Are Rock Stars Doing Today by Magic Dirt
Big Name, No Blankets by Warumpi Band
So, this was the reason I started this blog. The idea is simply to write page/post about one of my fave album each that I consider a classic album. Please leave your own comments below about each album because I would love to hear what everyone think and has to say about them? cheers!