We Made the Steel – Tyke’s News

‘We Made The Steel’ – The Roaring Forties  RF043CD

[From Tykes’ News Spring 2013 – UK folk magazine covering West Yorkshire]

From Australia, The Roaring Forties is a group of strong individual singers who like to choose robust songs telling about real people, their lives and work, either from traditional sources or from original material. One of the members of the group is Margaret Walters, who is well known in the UK, having toured here many times in the last 30 years.

We Made The Steel is a collection of twenty–two songs and poems about the steel industry in New South Wales in the 1960s and 70s, written by group members Robin Connaughton and John Warner about the former’s own life experiences. The form of the CD will be familiar to anyone who knows folk operas like, for instance, those of Mick Ryan. Songs and poetry are linked by a repeating theme The Ballad of Lovely Tom – the life of a migrant worker in the steel industry from his arrival to retirement.

The songs are all robust, many with singable choruses, revealing the Roaring Forties’ roots in the world of sea–shanties. Some songs are serious and some funny, covering topics from the displacement of indigenous people and the despoiling of the environ­ment, through the scrapes and pranks of workers in a risky business, to story songs and poems like the tale of the runaway lorry–load of copper wire, or the foreman who fell in the melt. Many of the tunes are “trad”, and others have very clear traditional roots.

This will prove an entertaining CD for anyone interested in life in heavy industry, especially in the antipodes. There is an excellent booklet with the words of all the songs, which also has many images of the New South Wales steel industry.

Jim Lawton

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