Tracks

  1. Cheatin’ Man
  2. Razor’s Edge
  3. Common Ground
  4. Dangerous Dancing
  5. Hideaway
  6. Dancing With The Lions
  7. Four Weeks Gone
  8. Borderline
  9. Stand Yr’ Ground
  10. This Time You’re Running
  11. Children Of The Southern Land
  12. Solid Rock, Sacred Ground

The Band:

Shane Howard
vocals and guitars
Rose Bygrave
vocals and keys
Marcia Howard
vocals and keys
Peter Coughlan
bass guitar
Robbie Ross
drums
Mal Logan
keys
Brian Holloway
electric guitar

The Crew

Mike Emmerson
audio

The folk-rock Goanna Band, as they were first named, were formed in 1977 by singer-songwriter Shane Howard in Geelong Victoria. With an ever-changing line-up, the band steadily grew in popularity with hard touring. In 1982 they exploded into national and international success with ‘Solid Rock’.

The classic was inspired after Howard’s emotional and eye-opening ten-day camping trip to Uluru two years before, and the album Spirit Of Place which reached #2 in Australia. Live At Canberra Workers Club captures the bridge between Spirit Of Place and the follow up Oceania, which was released in April 1985.

They lived as a collective in a two-storeyed house which they called Goanna Manor, and operated as a social democracy between the musicians, management and road crew.

The Canberra tape captures the triumphant note of the songs on the first album, and the step forward in Oceania, which they had just recorded in America with Bill Payne, keyboard player and songwriter with US band, Little Feat.

Some of the new songs like ‘Common Ground’ and ‘Dangerous Dancing’ were previewed on the tour. Although not as big a commercial hit, a revised version of Oceania was released in August 2020 on their Goanna Band website.

Howard’s body of work, both with the band and acclaimed solo albums, saw him appointed a Member of the Order of Australia In 2016.

SHANE HOWARD RECALLS THE TIME OF THE TAPE

(This is an excerpt of his memories of the time, the full transcript to be published in the liner notes).

“Having been off the road for nearly a year, recording and mixing, finances were grim and we’d taken to the road with some urgency, to raise some much needed wages, promote the Common Ground single and prepare for the upcoming album release.

By the time we did the Canberra Workers Club gig we’d already been touring pretty solidly through November, December and January 1984, to promote the ‘Common Ground’ single.

We’d had a short break and done a few days of recording and a few days of final mixes for the following single release before driving to Canberra. It was one of the first shows in a very long tour run that would take us from Melbourne to North Queensland, to Tasmania and West Australia. Like all touring in those days, it was nearly all done by road.

There’s some rough patches here and there and a bit of patchwork and spot welding that had to be done in a few spots. They’re certainly imperfect.

That said, the tapes are impressive and I think you’ll be struck, dear listener, by how good a live band Goanna were and how great the crew were who pulled these shows together, night after night, on the road. They’re a faithful portrait of a band in full flight, with a six man road crew, that you don’t see in the background, pulling every show together.

It was no easy life but our core crew guys were the salt of the earth and stood by us through thick and thin.

Bob Welsh was Goanna’s Stage Manager forever. He turned up regularly to a residency we had on Saturday afternoons at the Station Hotel in Prahran, Melbourne in 1980 or 1981. It began as a conversation and then he started helping us carry our gear out to the truck at the end of the gig. Before long, he was completely indispensable and central to the crew. Bob stated…

“The people who mentored me in this, my first gig with any band, were all outstanding operators in their fields and gave me the tools to work for over 40 years with a variety of fine Aussie bands.