Roaring Jack

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Roaring Jack was an Australian Celtic punk/folk punk band of the 1980s and 1990s. The band formed in 1985 and played their first shows in Sydney in 1986. Original members were Alistair Hulett (acoustic guitar and vocals), Dave Williams (bass), Steve Thompson (drums), Bob (Rab) Mannell (electric guitar and bouzouki) and Hunter Owens (accordion/mandolin and vocals).

Owens was later replaced by Steven (Steph) Miller on the same instruments and on vocals. Rod Gilchrist replaced Steve Thompson on drums after the recording of their first album.

The band built a cult following by playing the Sydney pub circuit eventually scoring regular slots at the Harold Park Hotel in Glebe and the Sandringham Hotel in Newtown. Their music had a strong political focus with emphasis on aboriginal Rights and union activism, working class activiism, anti authoritarianism, opposition to gentrification, and other social issues, as well as an emphasis on the pleasure of whiskey and drinking, having fun and cavorting. In keeping with this the band gave many benefit performances for a diverse range of left wing causes with fellow rebel rousers The Urban Guerillas, including the workers of Cockatoo Island, accused Sydney Hilton bomber Tim Anderson and opposition to the first Gulf War.

The band went on to support the likes of Billy Bragg, the Pogues and The Men They Couldn't Hang during their Australian tours.

Roaring Jack recorded for independent Sydney label Mighty Boy Records. They released the Street Celtability mini-LP in 1987,[1] The Cat Among The Pigeons LP (1988)[2] and Through The Smoke Of Innocence LP (1990).[3] German label Jump Up Records released all of these as The Complete Works, a double CD package, in 2002.

Some of their best remembered songs include 'Yuppie Town", "The lads from the B.L.F.", "the thin red line", ‘Buy Us A Drink’, ‘The Old Divide And Rule’, ‘Destitution Road’ and ‘We Don’t Play No Elton Fucking John’. A video was made for the single 'Framed', a song which raised awareness of the Campaign Exposing the Frame-Up of Tim Anderson.[4]

The band split in 1992. Alistair Hulett then enjoyed a successful solo career as an internationally recognised folk musician. Steph Miller formed his own band, The Wickermen in 1991 and spent most of the 1990s as a multi-instrumentalist in the successful Sydney band, Eva Trout. Steph released a solo CD, Strange Sea, in 2004.

Roaring Jack reformed briefly for two reunion gigs in 1995.[5] Alistair Hulett died of liver failure and cancer on 28 January 2010.[6][7]


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