Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Solid Rock" by Goanna

Song#:  1488
Date:  06/11/1983
Debut:  87
Peak:  71
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Australian band led by Shane Howard made a big statement with this politically charged single. Kicking around since 1977, the group gained a following and even did an Australian tour supporting James Taylor. Warner Bros. took notice and signed the band. Initially, the label was a bit gun shy in releasing this song as Goanna's first single, fearing that its serious topic and tone was too heavy for pop radio. But Howard convinced them to release it and the tune struck a nerve. It would end up reaching #2 on the Australian chart. Its success prompted Warner to release the single in other countries including the US. Hopes were not high that the very Australian tune would catch on, but it did better than expected with Rock radio supporting the tune (#31). The exposure there helped the song get on the Pop chart for a few weeks. It would be their lone chart entry. Goanna would have a few more chart entries in Australia, but it was this song that would make them a part of their home country's cultural history.

ReduxReview:  I had never heard of this song and I wasn't sure what to expect. An Australian political rock song with didgeridoo wasn't really enticing to me. I was kind of expecting something akin to "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" (Rolf Harris, #3, 1963) crossed with "Blowin' in the Wind" (Bob Dylan, 1963), but what I heard was a terrific song that had more in common with U2 or Midnight Oil. The driving beat, anthematic chorus, and potent lyrics make this a winner.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Howard's inspiration for the song came from a camping trip he took to Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) near Alice Springs. He was shocked at how the indigenous people there were treated and the inequality between them and the main population that had funneled in from Europe. In many ways, it was similar to what happened with the American Indians in North America. Being from a port city near Melbourne, Howard had little first-hand experience with the plight of the Aborigines, but his trip provided a lot of insight. He put it all to song and "Solid Rock" became one of Australia's most famous political rock songs.  2) From what I can tell, this is the first rock tune on the US charts to feature a didgeridoo. The Australian wind instrument can be heard at the very beginning. Although the didgeridoo has been included in other songs (such as Kate Bush's 1982 song "The Dreaming," which hit #48 UK/#91 AU), it seems to have made its US chart debut with "Solid Rock."


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