"I remember you close the back gate behind you/ say goodbye, watch the river running by you/ hear the whistle blow, you stand to go/ leaving everything behind you." - Factory Man - Shane Howard

When Troy Cassar-Daley researched his fifth album he reached back to the bush life of his youth to tap a kindred spirit for his first single.

The Grafton raised troubadour chose Factory Man - penned by mentor Shane Howard for his chart-topping eighties band Goanna.
Cassar-Daley's parents met as 16-year-olds in the Sweetacres factory - makers of Minties - in Sydney.

Howard and his six siblings grew up in a small historic cottage attached to the Nestles milk factory on the banks of the Merri at Dennington, due west of Warrnambool on the Shipwreck Coast of Victoria.

It was where the Howard patriarch Leo toiled for his daily bread for 48 years and sang with his wife Teresa and progeny for their supper.

"I remember Shane's music giving me the chance to grow as a kid," Troy, now 35, told Nu Country on the release of his fifth album Borrowed & Blue (Essence-EMI).

"I didn't have a lot of confidence and then I heard this Goanna record Spirit Of Place, when I was at school in Grafton in 1982. There were many songs on there with social conscience, an incredible message. I remembered Factory Man and it had to be on this record."

Cassar-Daley, raised by his artist mum Irene on the banks of the Clarence River in South Grafton, identified with the Howards whose Irish roots inspired regular family soirees at Dennington in the shadows of the factory.

Howard, 45, and sister Marcia, 43, recorded two albums with Goanna before embarking on solo careers that have spawned a dozen albums.

The Howards, known as the Von Trapps of the Shipwreck Coast dairy belt, also gave birth to another band The Plough Boys.


"A lot of my family came from this blue collar background," Troy revealed, "mum and dad met at Sweetacres in Sydney where they make Minties. All my uncles in Sydney worked at McWilliams. My uncles on my mother's side worked on the railways - 9-5. You see a lot of yourself in this song - images of my grandfather standing at the gate in South Grafton where I grew up. He had old blue singlets and his tuckerbox strapped to his back - it conjures up those images."

Troy, renowned for originals, chose favourites by other artists for an album produced by Nash Chambers who grew up about 180 kilometres west of Howard's home at Southend near Millicent on Highway One.

"We hadn't run out of originals," Cassar-Daley says, "if we were doing a covers record we would pick big hits like Solid Rock. We wanted to pick ones that meant something. Factory Man meant so much to me. He thought he was coming up to sing on River Boy - I asked Nash to put on Factory Man in the background. He was really distracted. It ended up being one of the best songs from the session. I heard it in 1982 in high school. I was in year 7. A cousin had Spirit Of Place. I was in a band Little Eagle. We were into Goanna. They came to Grafton and did several shows - we were in the front row watching Shane, sister Marcia and Rose Bygrave, they were fantastic people."

When Troy played Factory Man to EMI promotions staff they thought it was his song.
"I had to make these songs my own," the singer revealed, "I admitted I was close to what Shane was writing at the time. I still am. I still like his style.


And Cassar-Daley, like Howard who has had seven songs covered by Irish singer Mary Black, acts out the freedom from the shackles suffered by Howard's parents in the video for the song.

"Don't wanna be a factory man/ don't want to be part of someone's plan/ spending your life just chained to the machine."

Howard, who now lives at Killarney on the coast between Warrnambool and Port Fairy, also sang on River Boy.

It was a tune he learned from a Willie Nelson album - one of many in his mum's record collection that enriched his childhood and this disc.

Cassar-Daley organised a reunion of the Dead Ringer Band through his producer Nash Chambers for his cut of Big City - a classic by another mentor and 1994 touring partner Merle Haggard.

"One night Kasey was on road with me, she just had The Captain out," Troy recalled, "I said I want you to get up and duet with me on Big River. She jumped up on stage on this freezing cold night in Cowra. She sung this verse. I had it on old desk tape at home. Nash organised it this time. That blend they got with Dead Ringers was second to one. It was a real kick seeing them singing and playing together with Bill on dobro."


Troy reunited with fellow Grafton bred singer-songwriter Don Walker and fellow Cold Chisel graduate Ian Moss on Hank Williams song My Bucket's Got A Hole In It.

"I sent him my version of Angel Of Death with a whistling solo - a Hank song he did as Luke The Drifter," Troy revealed, "Don emailed me back and said it was bad luck to whistle on records, they don't sell. Instead we did a Hank song that Lefty Frizzell did. I can get two Lefty songs on the same record. We did a Cajun version of I'm An Old Man Livin Trying To Live While I Can. Merle did a version of this on Hank & Lefty Crowded Every Juke Box. We used to do it at the Britannia Inn on Cleveland St in Chippendale when I was first in Sydney. It was a real crowd favourite."

Moss also harmonised on Troy's version of the oft-covered Dan Penn-Chips Moman soul classic Dark End Of The Street.


The singer also cut Slim Dusty tune Losing My Blues.

"I loved this song since I was a kid, I also think it was one of the best bluegrass songs written by Slim," Troy added.

"We also recorded Slim's gospel song Glory Bound Train - with Rod McCormack on the banjo - late at night."

Daughter Anne Kirkpatrick guested on late Johnny Cash classic I Still Miss Someone.

"I first heard Anne sing it in Tamworth when I was still at school," says Troy, "she has been in and out of my career from my first record. It's one of the saddest songs I have heard Johnny Cash do. I performed it recently at a street party near home with my wife Laurel doing Anne's vocal parts. It was an amazing experience. This woman was reduced to tears. I said 'what's wrong?"' She said 'I have just broken up with my boyfriend."


Cassar-Daley also recorded the Steve Earle song My Old Friend The Blues.

"I loved Guitar Town but it only had one or two chords so I sat down with my guitar and did My Old Friend The Blues acoustic. I used to do it in the Blue Heeler Band in the Criterion pub in Maryborough. I remember it so vividly. I didn't see Steve on his recent tour. I was away in Broome with the Pigram Bros. I have never seen him live in Australia but I saw him in Nashville and loved every minute of it."

The singer joined with Paul Kelly, who duetted with him on Wish I Was A Train for his previous album Long Way Home for a revamp of George Jones Why Baby Why.

"We recorded that with Paul in Melbourne," Troy revealed, "when we arrived at Paul's place he put on this George record. I love George's up stuff. They were on fire, swinging their arses off, it's not a shuffle."

Other tunes on the 14-track disc include Rodney Crowell's Til I Gain Control Again, Tom Petty-Jeff Lynne tune Yer So Bad and I Got A Name - a hit for the late Jim Croce.

The album was recorded at the Beach House and Shed studios on the NSW Central Coast and featured Rod McCormack on guitars, mandolin and banjo, Bill Chambers on dobro, Tim Weddie accordion, guitarist Mark Punch, bassist Dave Ellis, drummer Mark Meyer and fiddler Mick Albeck.

Cassar-Daley has launched an invasion of TV variety shows as his surrogate radio pad for his album.

The video for Factory Man will appear on Nu Country TV and Pay TV channel CMC as he tours widely to maximise his exposure with a national tour starting in NSW in May.


Shellharbour Workers - May 5, Burns Club, Canberra - May 6, Goulburn Soldiers Club, May 7, St. George's Basin Country Club - May 8, Bega RSL Club - May 9, Galston -May 12, Hexham Bowls Club - May 13, Ingleburn May 14. Gloucester Soldiers Club - May 15.

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