The 25th (we think) album for Penny Roger. The duo have lovingly written songs, found songs, and, taking months in the studio, crafted the best versions of the songs that they can. It is truly a labour of love.
Roger sees the album as a whole story of life's ebb and flow. “We go through hardships when we are young (looking for our Blue Sky) and we realise that others are suffering too (Victor Jara , This World is Rich , Sleeping Child on Christmas Eve), but that there is beauty all around us. If we are lucky, we learn not to be disheartened and to find the uplifting experiences in the things that happen to us as we live. As older humans we inevitably look back through our Back Pages and go Looking Out at Mountains in the distance, and we see that, though we thought we knew a lot when we were young, it takes a long time (and a long life) to get perspective.”
Penny says “We have been incredibly fortunate in our lives. Firstly, to have a love of music from an early age, and then to meet each other and find love and musical synchronicity – to find the gold in the rising sun and the Silver in the Moon . We have had our dreams (John O'Dreams) and we have used the gifts we were given as well as we are able; learning along the road, singing for people wherever we could, writing songs and making a record of the songs we have sung and written as we have travelled along. Some of the places where we have performed are extra special, and have a song to remember them by, like The Woodford Bell .
Songs, like birds, are strange and rare… and we have been blessed to have some of them land on our hands and in our hearts over such a long, sweet time. We raise a Parting Glass to them all.” BACK TO SHOP
TURN THE WORLD AROUND - Songs for Peace & Justice PENNY DAVIES & ROGER ILOTT
Roger and Penny got together in 1976. On the 23 albums they have made since their first in 1983, they have written and recorded many songs highlighting issues such as the injustice still facing our First Nations people, the plight of refugees, the crises we face in our communities and on our planet caused by greed, and the challenges faced by those who find themselves on the fringes of society. A selection of these songs, recorded between 1984 and 2022, appear together here for the first time.
Penny says "Our albums have always included songs of justice and peace since we began singing together in 1983.
It feels like the right time to bring a few of them together in one collection, to make a loud noise about the place we find ourselves in today. We are writers and singers of songs and if our voices can help to change the world we want to sing as loud as we are able."
WINEGLASS BAY - MEDITATIVE INSTRUMENTALS ROGER ILOTT
When Roger was in his first band, Southern Road Band, in 1971 he wrote some instrumental music for an environmental poem, "Wineglass Bay". written by his friend Judi Major.
In 1984 he developed the music into a suite of instrumental music for Alec O'Halloran's Personal Achievement Kit - an album recorded in our studio in Balmain for Alec in that year.
In May, 1992, Roger combined that suite with some instrumental versions of our songs for a Meditation and Yoga album for our friend Lynn Alexander to use in her classes.
This collection combines those instrumental recordings, and an excerpt from Wineglass Bay Suite, with two instrumentals from our first album RESTLESS, plus a 2012 recording of an instrumental he recorded for the wedding of young friends. This album is ideal for quiet time, for meditation, or for times of stress when words get in the way.
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PENNY DAVIES & ROGER ILOTT RM203
Singing and sharing songs has been at the heart of our lives together,” says Penny. “Whether a song is about political or social issues, historical tales, or home truths – we have sung ‘em all. The point of it all is to share joy, ideas, hopes and dreams. That's why we keep on doing it.” |
WINDFALLS, their 23rd (ish) album since their very first vinyl release in 1983, brings together just some of those songs they want to share.
These songs are gathered from writers such as Phyl Lobl, Kevin Baker, Gary Shearston and others, and and create a windfallen tapestry of colours and flavours of the country in which they live, and of the world beyond.
Craig Edmondson's 200 Years, recorded on his 1987 album Bondi Road (on Penny & Roger's Restless Music label - RM019) is the first track. Written about the Australian bicentenary of the arrival of the First Fleet, it is a protest song still relevant today.
A poem, written by Mary Hannay Foott caught songwriter John Broomhall's imagination, and he wrote a tune for Where the Pelican Builds Her Nest on his 1987 album In the Days When the Anzacs Were New (produced by Penny & Roger for the Sandstock label SSM04). Penny says, “When we were walking by the Warrego River in Cunnamulla in November 2021, we saw a sign quoting the poem (the poet used to live nearby). Two pelicans drifted by and we had to sing this song! There's even a YouTube clip to prove it!”
Wollongong songwriter, the late Kevin Baker, is remembered here by two songs, Superstar and Aunty Roony's. “Roger and I have always shared music wherever we have gone - at kitchen tables, around the fire in someone's backyard, under the trees at a summer picnic,” says Penny, “Kevin Baker's Irish family obviously loved and shared music whenever they were together. This pastime is sadly unknown to many of today's talent-show consuming families.”
Penny & Roger built their first studio and began their record label in an old run-down cottage in Sydney's Balmain. “We were lucky to live near the old wharves, where we walked along the waterside, watched the ships come and go and absorbed the history of the old “town”. Phyl Lobl's Old Sydney Town takes us back there in a moment,” says Penny. Gemma Armstrong's soaring flute adds an ethereal quality to the track.
Former Byrds member, the late Gene Clark wrote Silver Raven. “It's a bit mystical.” says Penny, “It was written in the 70's but foresees the changing rivers, the crying seas, the trials of a planet in trouble.”
Penny wrote the lyrics for The Lost Boys (Roger composed the tune). “It's such a difficult issue, but it's so important to talk openly about youth suicide. Knowing a few young men who have taken this tragic path I focused on them, although I know that depression is a universal issue. Boys and young men find it so difficult to show vulnerability and ask for help. They can be gone before anyone knows they are in trouble,” says Penny.
Roger's brother, Tony Ilott *who plays bass on the album) wrote the lyrics to Long Time Waiting and Roger came up with the tune. The Wave Hill walk-off of 1966 (where indigenous station hands went on strike for fair pay) resulted in the handing back, nine years later, of some of their stolen land to the Gurindji people. “As for the rest … still waiting,” says Tony.
For the Children is a “letter to an old friend”. “It was the last song Gary Shearston wrote - the one he was due to record in our studio on the day he had a fatal stroke. We promised Gary we would get his songs out into the world. I had the lyrics, but no tune, so wrote a melody for the song,” says Roger.
Penny & Roger live in a fruit growing region in Queensland. “At picking time,” says Penny, “the town fills up with young people from all over the world. Their youthful energy enlivens the town, while the district shares its beauty with these Windfalls, who are blown in from everywhere.”
In 2021 Penny and Roger were involved in an outreach programme run by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. “We were doing a songwriting workshop that day and Dave Kerrigan, the Project Coordinator, came out with the phrase ‘you still need Good Bait to catch a yellow belly' (that's a kind of freshwater fish),” explains Penny. “So between Dave, Roger and me, we came up with the rest of the song one afternoon at RFDS HQ in Thargomindah, Queensland.”
Penny first heard Crossing the Bar sung by some beautiful voices in Maine, USA. “It stayed in my head and would pop out from time to time until Roger noticed me singing it to myself and suggested we should record it,” says Penny. “A.L. Tennyson wrote the poem in 1889 and Rani Arbo has written this gorgeous tune in more recent times.”
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