Satisfyingly 'un-Australian' folk music

Issue 

Satisfyingly 'un-Australian' folk music

Un-Australian Folk Songs
David Beniuk
Send $14 to PO Box 29, Wollongong East NSW 2520

Review by Alex Bainbridge

I had never heard of David Beniuk before listening to this album, but now that I've heard it, I want to find out more. The album is a very sharp commentary on contemporary Australian politics — musically satisfying and politically excellent!

Beniuk explains the title: “'Un-Australian' is a strange term which is increasingly being used by both sides of politics to put down anyone who questions the status quo. It is very reminiscent of McCarthy's use of 'Un-American' to purge so-called Communists in the US in the '50s.”

This album certainly raises questions about the status quo. Two of the Australian labour movement's biggest traditional weaknesses come under fire: its nationalism and its allegiance to the ALP.

“26 January” asks why we should celebrate a day of tragedy. Simple it may be, but it certainly cuts through a lot of the nationalist crap put forward by the establishment.

“Advance Australia Current Affair” also hits nationalism on the head. In these days of John Howard governments and Pauline Hanson far right, this message is particularly appropriate.

“The Lesser of Two Evils” is about the ALP. Beniuk says this song “puts the ALP's flirtation with economic rationalism under the spotlight”, but the song does more than just that. As the title implies, it declares that the ALP does not represent the interests of ordinary workers.

My biggest gripe with the album is that it has only six tracks! That is meant as a compliment. When I find music that I really like, I like to be able to put it on and enjoy it, the longer the better.

I feel tantalised by the prospect that somewhere “out there” more Beniuk music is floating around ready to be enjoyed. I need to dig up his earlier album, Port, as well. It should be available from the address above. I hope it is.

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