King Stingray

King Stingray: Yolngu surf-rock kings

It would be an understatement to bestow the cliche “long-awaited” upon King Stingray’s self-titled debut album. The Yirrkala band from north-east Arnhem Land have already teased us with five singles. The first of them, Hey Wanhaka – which means “what’s happening?” – was released in late 2020; Get Me Out, Milkumana, Camp Dog and Let’s Go have all followed.

Adding to the considerable hype are the band’s bloodlines: the singer, Yirrnga Yunupingu, is the nephew of the Yothu Yindi leader, Dr M Yunupingu, while the guitarist, Roy Kellaway, is the son of the same band’s bass player, Stuart. Both also play in Yothu Yindi themselves.

The five aforementioned singles make up a full half of this album’s 10 tracks, with Get Me Out and Milkumana both nominated for APRA awards as song of the year. They have been all over the airwaves – and deservedly so. The fact that their self-described Yolngu surf-rock will already be familiar to many listeners in no way detracts from this sparkling record.

Indeed, it’s great to have them together in one place, fleshed out by five more songs that sit well alongside one another. Most bands would be proud to have a collection like this on a greatest hits album.… Read more..

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The people’s band

Neil Murray had been labouring in the Indigenous community of Papunya – a bone-jarring four-hour ride north-west of Alice Springs – for about a week when he met Sammy Butcher in 1980. “He must have heard that I had a guitar, and he came around to have a look,” Murray says. “I showed him the guitar, and right away I could tell he could play – there was an energy there, he was gifted. You know those guitar players that never play the same solo twice, and they’ll tune up as they’re going? That kind of guy.”

Murray dragged out his amplifier, Sammy’s brother showed up with an upturned flour drum and a couple of sticks, and the trio began bashing out covers of rock & roll standards in the front yard. This was the birth of the Warumpi Band, who would be completed by the arrival of charismatic singer George Rrurrambu Burarrawanga.

It’s these rough beginnings that are captured in Warumpi Rock, a historic release of the earliest known recordings of the band in 1982, by which time Murray had become a bilingual teacher in the community. The recording, which contains covers of songs by Chuck Berry, the Beatles and Bob Dylan, was captured in the front room of his house, supplied to him by the Northern Territory education department.… Read more..

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