Roger Knox


Country music crossed the equator to the southern hemisphere in the kitbags of American servicemen during the Second World War. Somewhat unexpectedly and magically, it struck a chord with Australia's then voiceless and near-invisible Aboriginal population. Soon, buckaroo ballads and honky-tonk classics had proved themselves unbeatable as a vehicle for telling tough tales, and they were retooled to describe rugged outback lifestyles and the migration from country to city. The Aboriginal country tradition is peppered with drinking songs and prison songs: songs that yearn for justice and for home, songs of alienation and the loneliness of the outsider. It's a music redolent with humour, resignation and outrage, whose protagonists stalk a superficially familiar musical landscape that’s been re-populated with stockmen and grog- drinkers, wallabies and bandicoots, pelicans and policemen. And its chief heir, custodian and minstrel in the modern day is Roger Knox.

Knox—also known as the Koori King of Country—is an Aboriginal country star with a honeyed bear hug of a voice, and Stranger In My Land is his masterful celebration of a vast tradition of down-under country music wrought bruised and aching from the dustbowl of the outback. This collection of songs was originally written by Aborigine artists who were Knox’s peers and predecessors, a mixture of previously recorded rarities and handed-down folk songs which without Knox could have been lost forever. It's moving material, heartbreaking and hilarious, downtrodden and uplifting all at once. He delivers these songs of racial alienation, displacement and the march to civil rights with the poignant honesty of vintage Nashville.


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