Music from the anti-nuclear movement: Australia

Laka has a large collection of music (on vinyl, LPs & Singles and on CD or even VHS and Music Cassettes) supporting the anti-nuclear struggle. Most of these recordings are documenting a specific struggle in a specific era and location, and are living documents of that decennia long struggle. We’re focusing on officially released music, but if appropriate added some digital content too. Music is part of Laka's 'special collections' - the culture of the international anti-nuclear movement - which also includes a large collection of anti-nuclear songbooks, posters and graphic novels. If you have anything to add, want to make a contribution or an inquiry about a specific record, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If You Don’t Fight You Loose
LP, 1978

Redgum were an Australian folk and political music group formed in Adelaide in 1975 by singer-songwriter John Schumann, Michael Atkinson on guitars/vocals, Verity Truman on flute/vocals; they were later joined by Hugh McDonald on fiddle and Chris Timms on violin. All four had been students at Flinders University and together developed a strong political voice. This first album “If You Don’t Fight You Loose” was released in March 1978. The songs address topical issues. They tackle all the big issues and were the first band to do so for many of them: Aboriginal deaths from alcohol, nuclear power and uranium mining, unemployment, redundancy and US influence on Australia. Servin’ USA is one of the songs about the nuclear issue.

Various Artists
El Pifco - Meltdown
Single 45 rpm, (1979) Re-released 2019 (U.S.A.)

Liner Notes. Travel to El Pifco's many gigs in Sydney, the major metropolis some 80 kilometers to their north, meant a dangerous drive past the Lucas Heights Nuclear Facility on its outskirts. With the memory of the then-recent Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania fresh in their minds, the lads set about lining their band's Kombi van with lead and tinfoil to preclude possible contamination with radioactivity. Mind you, radio activity is precisely what they wanted for their new vinyl single release "Meltdown", inspired by thoughts of nuclear catastrophe mixed with a longing for sexual congress. The song, written by lead singer and rhythm guitarist Hank Vann, was self-released on an vinyl pressing in 1979. This extremely hard to find 7" was re-released in 2019 in the USA.

Virgin Ground
LP, 1980

Second album of Redgum, released late 1980. Initially a part-time band, performing weekends and school holidays (two members were teachers), it was only after they released this second album, to strong sales and critical acclaim, that the group became full-time and started touring nationally. They are best known for their protest song exploring the impact of war in the 1980s "I Was Only 19", which peaked at No. 1 on the National singles charts in 1983. After two of the founding-members left, the band broke up in 1987. The song Nuclear Kop is dealing with proliferation by selling uranium and the consequences of mining it.

The Lucky Country Survival Band
Instant Nuclear Nation / Ground Zero
Single 7", 1985

One of the many bands formed by Loui Cerviatti and Neil Gray from Australia’s capital Canberra. In 1985 they teamed up with Gunna Productions to help write and perform in various theatre productions. An offshoot of this was this recording, their only release. Both songs deal with uranium mining, nuclear weapons and US-involvement. Because of uraniummining, the Australian anti-nuclear movement is, more than in other countries, interconnected with the peace movement and the movement against nuclear weapons. In election time they said no mining / but in government there’s been some back sliding / what is the difference if its labour or liberal / we’re an instant nuclear nation. Neil wrote another song called "On the Brink" for the 1985 Palm Sunday peace rally outside Old Parliament House in Canberra; it was recorded but never released.
The Lucky Country is a 1964 book by Donald Horne: an evaluation of Australian society that questioned many traditional attitudes: "Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck”.

Various Artists
Uranium Don't dig it. Stop Jabiluka mine
CD, 1998

The Jabiluka uranium deposit is surrounded by the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park– on the lands of the Mirarr people. Drilling at the nearby Ranger Uranium mine had started in the 1970s, but with a change of government in the late 1990s there was a renewed pushed for uranium mining in Australia with a focus on the nearby Jabiluka lease. Led by Mirarr senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula, national and Northern Territory environment groups started a campaign to stop the proposed Jabiluka mine. Meetings, films, exhibitions, speaking tours and protests carried the message of respect for culture, country and the future. The Jabiluka campaign was a movement in which Australians and people from all around the world came together and stood alongside the Mirarr Traditional Owners. People from all walks of life protested together and said this is ours to look after, to care for and not destroy. The Jabiluka campaign was a game changer in the environment movement. More information on this release. More on the Jabiluka campaign.

A Compilation of Political Music, frontcoverA Compilation of Political Music, backcover

Various Artists
"Songs of Protest. A Compilation of Political Music by Independent Australian Artists."
Digital, 2003

Produced by DJ Robot Citizen, Community Radio Network of Australia. This album is a showcase of 12 truly independent underground Australian artists with a progressive political attitude. It was released roughly in the midst of the 10-year long oppressive right-wing John Howard-led LNP government; a period characterised by political corruption and their socially-divisive strategies aimed at smoke-screen distraction ie. provoking fearful attitudes, scapegoating refugees, getting us involved in unpopular and ridiculous foreign wars, while undermining the living conditions of the working and middle classes in order to boost the wealth of the wealthiest. Topics include: media and government propaganda, activism, refugees, war myths and lies, aboriginal landrights, nuclear/uranium, class solidarity, reclaim the streets and environmentalism. 500 CDs were printed and distributed to other Community Radio stations and shows around the country. More information

Super Raelene Brothers vs Little Sisters Collective – Wiya! Angela Pamela, frontcoverSuper Raelene Brothers vs Little Sisters Collective – Wiya! Angela Pamela, backcover

Super Raelene Brothers vs Little Sisters Collective
Wiya! Angela Pamela
CD/Digital single, 2010

In April 2010, the super raelene brothers in collaboration with western arrarnta and luritja musicians ‘the little sisters collective’ released their debut single ‘Wiya! Angela Pamela’. 'Wiya' is the western desert word for 'no'. Launched in the capital of black australia, the song is both a cry for help in the campaign to protect indigenous communities threatened by the proposed Angela Pamela Uranium mine, and a celebration of the power of indigenous voices to stand and defend the wellbeing of their people. the song is sung in luritja and western arrarnta with a smattering of english, across a deep funk groove. The Canadian uranium mining company Paladin was looking into developing an open pit uranium mine just 10 kilometers across the plain from the southern edge of Alice Springs and directly above the desert township’s fragile water aquifer. Those living closest to the proposed open-cut uranium mine are the residents of the indigenous town camps of Amoonguna, Ndapa, Karnta and Ilparpa. In response to a strong grassroots campaign in Central Australia, the Territory Labor government withdrew its support for the development of the mine. But the Country Liberal Party remained committed to the mine going ahead. Due to local and national opposition and low uranium prices, the company lost interest and sold the deposits late 2016. Free download here

Super Raelene Brothers –Nuclear Kop,  frontcoverSuper Raelene Brothers –Nuclear Kop, backcover

Super Raelene Brothers
Nuclear kop
CD EP, 2011

The Super Raelene Brothers decided to cover Redgum's 1980 classic "Nuclear Cop" because of fear that the Liberal Party could win the August 2012 elections (which they did) and that could revitelize uranium mining projects - like the Angela Pamela (which did happen but not for Angela Pamela): “So little has changed in the 32 years since it was first released”. Super Raelene Bros' version of the song comes highly recommended by none other than Redgum's frontman, John Schumann.
Another song on the seven song EP is ‘Story’ about one of the darkest stories of modern Australian history: the dispossession of desert people by Australia’s involvement in the atomic bomb-making industry. In 1964, native patrol officers from the Weapons Research Establishment in Woomera were tasked with clearing any Aboriginal people from the area immediately south of the remote Percival Lakes. This was where Blue Streak rockets fired from Woomera were targeted to land – the "dump zone". It had been chosen because it was believed to be uninhabited. In the south, The Anangu People were moved off their lands so that the 1953-63 British Atomic Tests could take place at Maralinga.