During the 1980s and early 1990s, Australian music was seen to be something of a popular thing that was in demand globally. Bands such as AC/DC, INXS, the Hoodoo Gurus and countless others showed that Australians could indeed Rock hard. Indeed, Yothu Yindi were no different in this trend. Their political song, Treaty, was a massive hit around this time and the group’s best album to date was released in 1991, being this album. How does it sound? Let’s find out.
Gapu begins with some deep and soulful tribal singing that is beautiful and wordless, for the most part. Soon enough, some didgeridoos and other tribal instrumentation enter. Unusual, but very cool. This is music deeply rooted in Aboriginal and Indigenous traditions, and it sounds amazing and fantastic. It gradually builds up in volume and sounds very cool. Spirituality and music do mix well here, and one can hear this in this tune. A really fantastic listen, and great to hear some soul on such a release. It finishes in less than three minutes, great music.
Treaty is the main hit of this album and launches straight into it. There are bongos, wah-wah guitars and some lyrics dealing with a broken promise by Bob Hawke, the then Australian prime minister, who did not deliver an indigenous people’s treaty, as was promised by him back in 1988. The chorus is amazing and catchy, and the mixture of English and tribal lyrics in this song are really cool. It is a true call for reconciliation and sounds intensely amazing as a piece of music. The chorus is so catchy that you’ll be singing it on repeat. Even if you do not understand anything about Aboriginal culture, this is pleasant listening. There is a key change, followed by an awesome guitar solo in the second half of the song, before the verses and chorus resume. A great, great song, and worth your ears. It ends after three and a half minutes, a defining moment in musical history.
Djapana (Sunset Dreaming) begins with stereo-panned didgeridoos, tribal vocals and chanting throughout. Again, this launches into a really cool Rock music groove. English lyrics eventually emerge, and this music is soul-searching, and brilliant musically and melodically. A really interesting listen, the music on this song (and album) is really quite good. The sounds present are quite unique in musical history here for Indigenous music, and this song is really cool. There is a neat wah-wah guitar solo, followed by some clean guitar figures towards the end. A good song, once again, and worth your time. Enjoyable music. It ends with wah-wah guitar galore, which is superb.
My Kind Of Life begins with some incredibly unusual sounding rhythmic acoustic guitar strumming, timpani drums and an odd feel to this piece of music. The music here almost sounds like Reggae. It’s still consistently good, but rather unusual sounding here. An awesome tune, despite its quirkiness. Singing about travel and other adventures, there is also a very pretty Fender Stratocaster solo, which is nice and different. Overall, this is another wonderful tune to listen to. A nice, grooving and relaxing tune that needs to be played on a tropical island of sorts, or in Australian terms, Far North Queensland. There is some interesting drumming to conclude this pretty piece, just before it fades out. Excellent.
Maralitja (Crocodile Man) begins with some beautiful acoustic guitar playing that sounds lush, before launching into a mellow tune with tribal lyrics and a relaxing tune to boot. An enjoyable and fruitful piece of music, this makes a definite change to the rest of the album. Eventually, the chorus gets going and it is a heavier, driven thing to hear. Surely this music is very underrated and underappreciated today? Comes across as that. The chorus is powerful, awesome and uplifting to hear, and it is something to groove along to. An enjoyable sort of ballad, and this does sound very interesting to listen to. The guitar riffs throughout are extremely catchy. There is a breakdown near the end with just vocals and didgeridoo, which is worth hearing before the rest of the song resumes. A great listen, and very underrated music here.
Dhum Dhum (Bush Wallaby) begins with clacking percussion sticks, didgeridoo and chanting. In many ways, this is a wonderful and unique listening experience. Being a traditional Aboriginal piece, this is just over a minute long, but worth the listen. An excellent intermission styled piece.
Tribal Voice begins with chiming guitars and a song that sounds too much like the Stone Roses. It’s good, but the sounds present are fairly unoriginal. This is a good song with some less-than-original melodies and a political overtone that may put some off this music. An interesting squealing guitar solo is near the middle here, which sounds different. Although this song is very good, it does drag on a little length-wise. Still, it is a good effort and does have some cool didgeridoo on it. Indigenous Australian culture is frequently ignored or crushed by the history of white settlement since 1788. However, this song shows a better way to survive through it all for minorities of the world. A good song, with a clear political voice for Aboriginal people in particular.
Mainstream begins with more Fender melancholy guitars, some didgeridoo and quickly launches into a rather miserable sounding Pop song. This sounds a lot like the Stone Roses, once again, and is deeply emotional and soul-searching musically. A sad and strange piece of music, this is a good tearjerker for fans of Australian Pop/Rock. The guitar solo exudes some great emotional expression on it, and the whole thing sounds rather sad to listen to. A miserable tune, but one that works well. In the second half are some impressive and interesting playing to match the mood of this song. A bit of a drag musically, but at least it is good regardless. There are some call-and-response vocals to finish this off over the conclusion of this song. It’s okay but is very depressing.
Dharpa (Tree) begins with a percussive rhythm stick intro, more didgeridoo and some AC/DC like guitar parts, that sound tapped. Soon enough, a Sammy Hagar sounding riff begins to launch this track underway. Of course, this isn’t the most original music out there to this day. But simply put, it works. Lots of yelping styled singing is on this track, and the whole thing is quite interesting to listen to. Yothu Yindi as a group were obviously very talented musically in their own way. The second half has a keyboard solo, before returning to the chanting at hand. A wonderful and enjoyable tune, although likely not the best tune from this album. The playing and singing are very good, despite the lack of originality musically. The second half has more tapped guitar parts and didgeridoo for an extended section before the band resumes as a unit. Good music, decent for what it is.
Yinydjapana (Dolphin) is a one-minute-long instrumental piece with didgeridoo and chanting. An interesting listening experience, this is very great for an instrumental. Uplifting and different, even though this does not have English lyrics in it, it is different. A good addition to this album.
Matjala (Driftwood) is a lengthy piece on this album. It begins with drumbeats, chirping crickets and some loose bass guitar. The drumbeats are front and centre over the top, as whooshes and singing emerge. This sounds a lot like Australian Reggae. In fact, it likely is. Nonetheless, this is a very good listen that sounds extremely decent and cool. Although this has some sounds similar to 1980s Synth Pop trash, this is worth your ears. An enjoyable piece of music for your summer getaway, this is chilled stuff to play in your car stereo that people will likely dig as you drive by. Unfortunately, the length of this piece does wear one out a little, despite the fact that this is quality music. A nice and excellent textural journey, although it could have been edited down for length’s sake. In any case, it’s a good chilled listen, and one can only imagine the effort and expertise put into such a sonic journey. The harmonies towards the end are really divine. There is real soul in this music, and it does wonders. It ends with the drums finishing up, and the remnants of the song being gradually faded out. Nice.
Hope launches straight into a basic Classic Rock sounding piece, with didgeridoo accompaniment. There is some great music on this tune, and the tune is okay, even if this is a mixed bag of musical quality. Still, one cannot deny the quality and excellent storytelling of this song. A good piece of fairly average music that is not the greatest from this album. Having said that, it does sound nice in some areas. The album begins to wear out its appeal a little by this point, sadly. It’s not the greatest set of songs ever made, and it is quite dated now. Good effort regardless, though, on this song.
Gapirri (Stingray) launches into a retro 1950s styled tune that is a lot shorter and more upbeat. There is a neat breakdown of instruments and instrumentation on this tune before this tune resumes to tell a story tale lyrically. This is a good listen with some excellent electric guitar playing with some awesome Floyd Rose whammy bar action, and the whole tune is very cool to hear. Wonderful didgeridoo and guitar duke it out towards the end, and this track concludes with some awesome sounds from the former. Great.
Beyarrmak (Comic) is a shorter piece with some chanting at the beginning, before being matched with didgeridoo here. Percussion sticks are added. This is very deep and spiritual sounding music that is deep, and emotional and is designed to move others. This is a very short piece under two minutes long designed to sway you, even if you don’t speak the language that Yothu Yindi do verbally. It ends fairly abruptly.
Treaty – Radio Mix is a radio remix of the original. It begins with 4/4 beats, some early 1990s sounds such as piano and an EDM structure. This is extremely catchy and worth your ears and time. This is the sort of thing that one could put onto a DJ set, with no problems at all. Yothu Yindi knew how to make a crossover into western music with their approach, and this remix is an indication of this. There are intermissions and organs galore here as well. A tremendously good take on the original song, this in some ways is the 21st-century version (even at the time) of Yothu Yindi. It stops the beats for a bit in the second half, leaving the chanted vocals exposed before the musical elements return to conclude this. A great remix of a great song. Excellent.
Djapana (Sunset Dreaming) – Radio Mix launches straight into it with chanted vocals and percussion in the background. Some awesome chanting enters, along with didgeridoo which is quite nice to hear. A straightforward and interesting tune about looking at the sunset finishing and other deeds, Yothu Yindi knew how to make an impression on record. All in all, this is okay but not as good as it could be musically. A good breakdown with didgeridoo is present, along with more chanting. It goes back into the main song section, and is rather lengthy, to be honest. A nice finish to an album that is good, but not great. It’s okay but could have been better here.
This album is okay. Treaty is the standout track here, obviously, and was obviously what made Yothu Yindi famous at the time. This means that, unfortunately, the rest of this album, although has its moments, is fairly average musically. The didgeridoo and other instrumentation are unusual for a Pop/Rock basis, but still, these songs could have been trimmed in length. Should you listen to this album? Yes, especially if you like Australian Indigenous culture. Just be wary that some tracks are better than others.