Melbourne music icon and ARIA Hall of famer Ross Wilson presents a special concert to mark Survival Day 2021, named after his first solo single from 1976, Living In The Land of Oz, which was the first white rock record to address Indigenous issues. Taking place in the afternoon and early evening of Tuesday January 26 at Melbourne Pavilion Live Outdoor on Racecourse Road Kensington (just minutes from the city) Ross Wilson & the Peaceniks will be joined by fellow Melbourne institution Mick Thomas and his Roving Commission, and a yet-to-be-announced guest.
Ross says of the concert: “I’m looking forward to playing my songs in context on Survival Day in support of First Nations people. Living In The Land Of Oz was released in 1976 and sadly its lyrics of dispossession & institutional racism still resonate today. #changethedate”
Ross Wilson is a man whose influence on Melbourne Music is without equal. A significant presence in the’60s and early ‘70s with the Pink Finks, the Party Machine and Sons of the Vegetal Mother, he went onto smash all records with Daddy Cool, and then smash those same records again with the band he discovered, developed and produced, Skyhooks. He also worked closely with Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Sports, Jane Clifton’s feminist rock outfit Stiletto and others before taking to the stage again himself and achieving huge success in the ‘80s and beyond with Mondo Rock and as a solo artist and songwriter.
Living in the Land of Oz is a significant song in Wilson’s repertoire. Written and first recorded in 1976 it was his first solo single, it was not only first white rock record to address Indigenous issues, but also the theme song to the 1976 feature film Oz (a.k.a. Oz – A Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Movie) by Wilson’s old mate Chris Löfvén.
Its bright, celebratory vibe veiled brilliantly dark and subversive lyrics. Lyrics like “150 years ago the black man lived in peace and the land was still / Now a city of millons covers the soil and the blacks have all been killed” and “Now I don’t know how it happened but it happened just the same / Now the whites are rich and the blacks are dead and no one seems ashamed”.
The song also addressed our nation’s then still-recent White Australia policy: “The government of this wonderful land, they sent men all around the world / Just to tell everyone it was the perfect place to raise their boys and girls / If you’re white you can come alright but if you’re black you’d better get back / Because they took a lot of trouble just to kill ‘em all off, don’t wanna have to do it again.”
And no it wasn’t a hit. But while the song predated similarly-themed material by the likes of Goanna, Midnight Oil and Paul Kelly by half a decade, it has endured. In 1989 it was featured on the groundbreaking collection released by CAAMA entitled Building Bridges (Australia Has A Black History) collection alongside the aforementioned artists and the likes of No Fixed Address, Yothu Yindi, Coloured Stone and others.
For his first gig of the year – the year that marks the 50th anniversary of Eagle Rock and the record-breaking first Daddy Cool album – Ross Wilson and his band the Peaceniks have chosen to highlight the sentiments of Living in the Land of Oz with this special show. The song will of course be part of Ross’ set, alongside classic material from Daddy Cool, Mondo Rock and his solo work.
Joining Ross and band will be another iconic Melbourne artist known for both his strong sense of social justice and his feeling for Australian history (he featured with Weddings Parties Anything and his song Hungry Years on the aforementioned Building Bridges collection), Mick Thomas & his Roving Commission. Mick’s appearance follows the release of last year’s See You On The Other Side album, and his latest single, a summery cover of Cold Chisel’s Forever Now with guests including Tim Rogers and Angie Hart, and it precedes the formal announcement of his new album – his second recorded in COVID Lockdown, entitled City’s Calling Me – which will be out in March. Mick’s live set includes solo classics and WPA hits Away Away, Monday’s Experts and Father’s Day.
Ross Wilson Presents Living In The Land of Oz will also feature special guests, to be announced shortly.
Ross Wilson Presents “Living in the Land of Oz”
Starring Ross Wilson & The Peaceniks, Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission plus special guests TBC
Tuesday 26th January 2021
Doors Open time 2pm and Showtime 2:30pm
Melbourne Pavilion Live Outdoor
135-157 Racecourse Road, Kensington VIC, 3031