The Bushwackers

Flash Jack From Gundagai

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This is a compilation of the Bushwackers' two late-'70s albums, Murrumbidgee and Bushfire. The limited liner notes do not explicitly state that discographical fact, so casual or novice fans probably wouldn't be able to discern which recordings these songs originated from. Murrumbidgee was recorded in London and released in 1977. It even features Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks on three tracks. This album was produced by Fairport sound-shaper John Wood and displays a noticeable musical expansion for this Australian folk group -- most obviously, the pronounced use of electric guitars. Guitarist Louis McManus injects rock & roll and blues-rock riffs into the Bushwackers' music for the first time. That is especially evident in "Augathella Station." Richard Thompson's "Cold Feet" is given a slight country feel, while "Rain Tumbles Down in July" possesses bluegrass traits. All of those ingredients interspersed with traditional Australian music yields a unique amalgamate. Bushfire, released in 1979, continues the trend unveiled two years earlier. Again produced by John Wood, this configuration of the Bushwackers includes three new members, but it's guitarist Steve Groves who makes the greatest impression. His contribution on "Van Dieman's Land," along with Mick Slocum's voice, recall the quintessential sound of Richard Thompson/Dave Swarbrick-era Fairport Convention. The driving rhythm and Slocum's lead accordion on "Bushfire" actually conjure up pipe dreams of what a jam session between accordionist John Kirkpatrick and Rush might sound like. Given the year of release (1979), it's a testament to this band's integrity that they didn't fall victim to the many disposable musical trends that seeped into the fabric of even well-established bands of that time.

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