Midnight Oil

Diesel And Dust

Midnight Oil - Diesel And Dust ©1987 Columbia
1. Beds Are Burning
2. Put Down That Weopon
3. Dreamworld
4. Arctic World
5. Warakurna
6. The Dead Heart
7. Whoah
8. Bullroarer
9. Sell My Soul
10. Sometimes

Austrialia's bitter political band Midnight Oil were also quite the pop geniuses. I recall hearing several tracks from this album way back in 1988 and being enthralled, even as a fourteen year old who cited AC/DC as the coolest band ever. (Hey, they're both from the same continent...) Essentially Midnight Oil played on the same musical street as R.E.M., coloring a unique style under the guise of mainstream rock. Singer Peter Garrett has a weird hesitant voice that almost seems apologetic for blasting the oppression of aboriginies or whatever inflammatory topic is at hand. Needless to say, it is a unique voice (and another parallel to R.E.M.) that won't be forgotten. Midnight Oil also had the ability to write timeless pop songs that avoided bubblegum triviality. Unlike much of the popular songs of the era, "Beds are Burning" and the incessantly catchy "The Dead Heart" are still great over a decade later. Midnight Oil comes highly recommend for anyone who has a soft spot for left field mainstream rock such as Talking Heads or other theoretically mainstream acts that secretly had an intellect behind the music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1999

Back to top 

Blue Sky Mining

Midnight Oil - Blue Sky Mining ©1990 Columbia
1. Blue Sky Mine
2. Stars Of Warburton
3. Bedlam Bridge
4. Forgotten Years
5. Mountains Of Burma
6. King Of The Mountain
7. River Runs Red
8. Shakers And Movers
9. One Country
10. Antarctica

The tall, spastic, bald man from Oz and his four instrument-playing companions faced a monumental challenge. Could they follow up their politically abrasive-but-musically catchy US breakthrough Diesel and Dust without repeating themselves and becoming as cliché as their fellow Aussies, AC/DC? The answer is both a resounding "hell yeah!" and a quiet, "ummm, no."

Thesis: This is great!

Blue Sky Mining is solid, plain and simple. It's packed with strong songs from start to finish, each with its own unique identity. After a few listens, I was able to remember the tune from each song, as well as a good chunk of the lyrics. And although it's undoubtedly the same band, they avoid making a soundalike album by using more vocal harmonies and turning down their amps to emphasize delicate guitar passages over straight riffing. The result is a more nuanced sound that complements the reflective, less ominous tone of the album. Overall, it's quite an impressive collection of songs and the band has progressed without betraying its roots. Good show, lads!

Antithesis: This is boring.

Blue Sky Mining is a quieter, more introspective album, and the hard edge which characterized their previous work is largely missing. Even the most impassioned tracks, "Blue Sky Mine" and "Forgotten Years," can't match the outraged roar of their previous efforts. The band's political stance is also still obvious, but the lyrics are less strident and the confrontational value isn't there. The restrained production values don't help much, either; the album sounds a bit flat by today's standards.

Synthesis: I like it.

Blue Sky Mining is a good album—but beware! If you only liked Midnight Oil for their hit songs and want pissed-off, Aborigine rights rock ala "Beds are Burning," this one isn't for you. But if you liked the general direction the Oils took with "Put Down That Weapon," "Arctic World," or "Whoah," then you should appreciate this disc.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 08/1999

Back to top