Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Time Warp Wednesday: Midnight Oil’s Blue Sky Mining

In the mid 1980s to early 1990s, there were some politically minded bands that helped pave the way for the alternative rock movement of the 1990s. Some are still around today, such as R.E.M. and U2. Others, such as Australia’s Midnight Oil, are no longer together. In fact, lead singer, lyricist, and harmonica player Peter Garrett has gone all the way political—moving from rock to Australia’s House of Representatives in 2004 to Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts in 2007.

Midnight Oil first gained major attention in the US in 1987 with the single “Beds are Burning” off the record, Diesel and Dust. The song is about granting lands rights to Indigenous Australians. By the time Blue Sky Mining was released in 1990, America was ready. And from the first sound of Peter Garrett’s harmonica on the title track, Midnight Oil laid out their views through the great songs on the record.

While Garret was one of the great front men of the 1980s and 1990s, the guitar work of Martin Rotsey was really key to the band’s sound. What a great, blistering player. At a time when The Edge and Peter Buck were defining guitar playing for the 120 Minutes crowd, Ratsey had his own sound and style.

Politics were key to Midnight Oil’s core—who can forget their playing on the back of a flat-bed semi-truck with a banner reading, "Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick", in NYC to protest the Exxo Valdez oil spill. However, without the killer songs it would have been for naught. Tracks such as the aforementioned “Blue Sky Mine,” “Forgotten Years,” and “One Country” still hold up today, musically as well as topically. And really that is what a great record should do. Yeah, and they were also great live as you can see below.


Danielle said...

I can still think of most of the tracks on this album. I played this incessantly during my first year in college. Wait, is this a convergence of musical tastes?

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