The poignant works of singer/songwriter Vic Simms are brought back into the light, writes Helen Goltz.
In 1973, Indigenous singer/songwriter Vic Simms recorded the most important Australian album you’ve never heard, The Loner, from the confines of his cell in Bathurst jail.
In 2014, Brisbane Indigenous singer/songwriter Luke Peacock has brought together some of the finest talents in Australian music to form The Painted Ladies and to recreate the songs of Vic Simms.
Get Back Into the Shadows is the first taste of the forthcoming album, featuring the talents of Peacock (who is also a member of Brisbane band Halfway) and The Medics as they deliver the powerful lyric about Simms’ observation of discrimination and living as an Aboriginal man in 1973.
Peacock’s personal music journey started at the age of thirteen as a result of having a knee reconstruction.
“I was really into Nirvana and stuck at home. I picked up Dad’s guitar and started learning lots of Nirvana songs.” In later years, he came across the works of Vic Simms when working at radio station 98.9fm.
“I was digitising a bunch of old analogue recordings when I came across Vic’s album, The Loner. I’d heard one or two of the songs before, but it was then that I realised how important and incredible this stuff was,” he says.
“I immediately started looking for as much of his music and his background as I could possibly find.”
During this search Peacock found many of the verses from Simms’ work resonated with him.
“The phrase ‘try to understand’ pops up a few times on The Loner. They’re simple words with a simple meaning, but they really sum up how I see any positive things happening.
“I really try to get a decent understanding of where other people stand in an emotional or cultural conflict. Even if I think they’re a complete goose. A lot of lives are ruined because someone else just doesn’t wanna’ try or doesn’t really care.”
Peacock says Vic Simms’ passive fight or in his own words “this is not a man who is marching in the streets and preaching politics” is as relevant as ever.
“If you spend time with mob in your community, you see the doors shutting and the stones being thrown way too often. And working in Black Radio for five years meant I was hearing and reporting all sorts of disturbing stories every day; stories that a lot of mainstream media tend to shy away from. Or just change.
“People like to think we’ve come a long way, and in some ways we have, but there’s still a lot of false common beliefs, poor attitudes and actions that are based on race and that kind of slowed down a lot of our hard work.”
If you’re brown, stay round
But if you’re white, it’s alright
But if you’re black,
you get back into the shadows
Vic Simms, 1973
The Painted Ladies play Selections from The Loner is released on 6 June through Plus One Records/Mgm.