The release of Tribal Voice marked an important step in the development of Australian music. It was the first time that an Aboriginal recording artist had received serious public recognition, to the extent that a song from this album, "Treaty," became an Australian hit. Yothu Yindi's music is a strange mixture of influences, ranging from the haunting traditional instruments and singing on tracks like "Gapu," to the modern rock of "Treaty" and "Tribal Voice." This range of styles serves to encompass all facets of the Aboriginal experience: reminders of the Aboriginal heritage, pleas to young Aborigines to maintain their links with their culture, and political protest over the controversial question of land rights (as previously tackled by Midnight Oil on Diesel and Dust). This album proved successful thanks to the release of a remixed version of "Treaty" (also included here), but it also provided the impetus for other Aboriginal performers -- Archie Roach, Kev Carmody and Ruby Hunter, to name a few -- to receive serious media attention. There are criticisms of Tribal Voice, though. The traditional songs are stunning, and Mandawuy Yunupingu's voice is suited perfectly to these, but it is the rock tracks that are the weak links in this disc. Yunupingu is not a particularly good pop singer, and the music is sometimes insipid; it seems unlikely that "Treaty" would have become a successful single in its original form. Despite this, Tribal Voice is a fine example of both traditional and modern Aboriginal music.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Lewis