Love Loss and Liberty
The Trustees would also like to thank all the artists, record companies and music publishers who generously gave permission for the use of the songs. Many thanks also to Alison Hulett for her outstanding design work, and to Phil Snell of Limbo Creatives Ltd for production. All funds raised from sales of Love Loss and Liberty will go to the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust in the UK, and the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund in Australia.
During his many years as an antipodean, Alistair made some of the best songs ever written about Australia, particularly its working history. “The Sons of Liberty” is typical of his uncanny ability to turn complicated historical events into brilliantly singable anthems of common people. We are honoured to have been Alistair’s friends and to have worked with him over the years, and we miss him every day. Fortunately for all of us, Alistair lives on in a truly remarkable collection of songs that will continue to inform, inspire and illuminate our lives forever.
Alistair Hulett is a singer of intensity, integrity, and conviction, but although much of his writing is hard edged social and political commentary which challenges any hint of passivity in his audience, he doesn’t let the ideology overpower the imaginative lyricism of his writing.
Once referred to as “one of the defining voices of Scottish music”, Alistair Hulett was a genuine folk hero, perhaps best known for fronting the folk-punk band Roaring Jack.
Mark and I were on tour in the USA and a friend gave us a home-made cassette tape to play on a long drive north through Vermont. Having played the first side, we turned it over and found Alistair’s Dance of the Underclass album. When we got to ‘He Fades Away’ we had to pull off the freeway in floods of tears. Not only does the song express deep anger over the exploitation of the men who played a dreadful price for working at Wittenoom (Western Australia) in the Blue Asbestos Mine and Mill, but it also says so much about the pain and helplessness of watching someone you love suffering and going beyond your help.
There is something admirable about those people of deep political conviction who, in their youth, rail against the unfairness of the world and maintain that rage for the rest of their lives.
It was our mutual friend Donald Lindsay who first introduced me to Alistair’s music and, later, to the man himself. I grew to know Alistair better over the following years and it became apparent that his musical talent was matched by his generosity of spirit, friendliness, good humour and by his rigorously held belief in social justice.
I first met Alistair at the Australian National Folk Festival in Adelaide in 1991. We became firm friends and I have many fond memories of Alistair and Fatima coming to my concerts in Sydney. His songs will last since they address the human condition, its joys and its tragedies, its love and it’s pain, whatever the subject, his love of, and for humanity shines through.
When folks asked me to record “Behind Barbed Wire” for this collection of Alistair’s songs I was a bit hesitant, it’s a song that represents some of Ally’s most beautiful, intricate guitar work and I wondered how I might do it justice. I ended up using a flatpick and doing a version that, for better or worse, lacks most of the intricate stuff Ally did in his own rendition of his song. But I got a great, posthumous guitar lesson in the process, anyway.
I met Alistair in the mid 80s when he was living in Australia. I was touring there myself and sang at many benefits and rallies with Alistair, against the first Iraq war, outside the fence of Long Bay Prison, a live broadcast for community and Aboriginal Radio stations Skid-row and Redfern, on an ‘oven hot’ sweltering Christmas Eve for the ‘Free Tim Anderson’ campaign, among many others. There are many fine songs Ali has written that I wanted to sing for this album, I was told other good friends of Alistair were already covering them, so it’s ‘Don’t Sign Up For War’