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 Post subject: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Fri February 24, 2017 6:16 pm 
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Can't believe these fellows don't have their own OB thread. A ludicrous situation now rectified.

Giving up my tickets to see the Oils back in '87 (seriously! '87! What the hell was I thinking??) remains my single biggest musical regret. Never seen them but thank God for reunion tours.

I know fully well not to expect the Oils of '87 but if I know nothing else I know these guys will in no way be phoning this in. I imagine that, in a general sense, Peter Garret is damn pissed. And that bodes mighty fine for this tour.

Above all else, Midnight Oil will absolutely stand up and be counted. They always have.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Fri February 24, 2017 6:20 pm 
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Yesterday I picked up tickets to the mighty Oils October show in my nome town. What better reason for me to do a "LAL To" than that??

Please be advised that any actual album/song "scores" in future posts within this thread should be ignored for my total lack of taste.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Fri February 24, 2017 6:24 pm 
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The world needs the Oils now. Thank fuck they're back.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Fri February 24, 2017 6:25 pm 
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They sold out in under 30 minutes here. They're playing too small a venue, 995 people. Great venue to see them but hopefully the'll add a second (or third) night.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Mon February 27, 2017 9:35 am 
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Midnight Oil - 1978
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I must say that I hadn't honestly listenned a lot to this particular album over the years, but as part of this 'LAL' process have given this many spins over the past few days. I'd guess that this new-found familiarity has likely helped the song rankings here a tad as no doubt on blind first listen everything would probably have been a point or so down. I do however find the production on this to be quite flat and bland, which definitely detracts from the album. Also, the performances, both vocal and instrumental, are a bit lack-lustre to me. Whilst it's all "OK" sounding they certainly didn't manage to catch much of the power (or the passion!) of the Live Oils sound that they were already making their name on at the time.

1978 and Midnight Oil form their own record label to release this album. Surely that wasn't a common occurrence back then, was it? Very punk of them regardless, and very much their style. Uncompromising.

So, onto the tracks. "Powderworks" starts us off and straight away the basic Midnight Oil sound is there. Peter Garrett has always been very distinctive, and whilst Rob Hirst on drums is not about to take a back seat, the Oils have always been a guitar-driven band. This is a tune that grew on me with repeated listens, my initial response being that it was just too long, but after a bit I grew to really appreciate the breakdown in the middle. Gotta mention the opening line on the band's debut album is "There's a shit-storm a'coming" - I think that for this band that says it all really.

If I was making a 2-disc best of I'd likely argue for a spot for this tune, mostly as it contains all the basics that the band built on over the years to form their own sound. The drum patterns are probably a little more simple than the places Rob Hirst goes to in the future, but still, they are here, front and centre. You hear this and know how important the drummer is to this band. And of course the guitars. Good stuff here. A solid 3.5/5 for this one.

Track 2 is "Head Over Heels" which starts out with a chooglin' little guitar riff that reminds you how these guys were such masters of the guitar hook. Don't get me wrong - this is by no means a great hook or anything, I'm just saying that once again I can see the beginnings of the wonderful things they get to with later releases. An interesting lyrical tune this one - casually listenning it sounds as if Midnight Oil have thrown a standard love song at us, but that's not quite the case. The song finishes with "Stories flying, love is dying, in the end I can't understand her lying". It seems even within a simple love song the idea of "Question Everything" remains. 2.5/5

Track 3 is "Dust", which off the bat gives out a different sound to the 2 songs that preceded it. A bit more of a post-punky sort of thig going on here, which makes sense for a band that at the time were finding their own distinct sound amongst a mix of the current time mish-mash of punk, post-punk, disco, funk, rock and most of all, pub-rock so prevalent within Australia at the time. In the end this is filler, but interesting enough for it. 2.5/5.

Track 4 gives us "Used and Abused" which is another unusual tune when framed against the sounds of the band that Midnight Oil where to become. This one is also kinda post-punky and is fairly forgettable to be honest. 2.0/5.

Track 5 is "Surfing With a Spoon" which has a spacey little instrumental intro that kicks into a driving bass-line hook that runs through the rest of the song. This one is particularly interesting to me for the long instrumental breakdown in the middle. This sort of open-jam with all instruments getting their space and time is kinda great and to me highlights the band growing into the beast they are to become. Certainly they can play their instruments and know what they are doing. 3.0/5.

Track 6 is "Run By Night" which is the single they released off this album. This is where you can really first hear the 'classic' Midnight Oil sound. Having a look at the lyrics who knows what the fuck the boys were on about though - I can't make head nor tail of it. Anyways, a strong Oils rocker here, no qualms by me. 3.5/5.

How many 7 track albums are out there? Tons probably but it just occurs to me to be an unusual number for a tracklisting. Anyways, final track on the Oils self-titled debut is the sprawling, spacey(ish) "Nothing Lost, Nothing Gained". To be honest not a big fan of this one, the guitar tones they went with for the solo's are all a bit to close to the epic guitar sounds of so many film scores that would be so popular in the 80's to come for my liking. I will say though that there is a particular theme to this song that is apparent in a few Midnight Oil songs along the way, that of "not me, I Don't Wanna Be the One, I know things aren't good but hey, whatever" that does appeal to me.

"Turn up the TV, make the music loud
Better to ignore the rabid dog baying at your door
Draw the blind, change the channel if you dare
Better to say, I don't care"


Still, overall the song doesn't hold up musically for me, even if the lyrics are alright. 2.0/5.


So overall that's an average of 2.7 across the album, which is probably about right when I consider the album as part of the overall catalogue. Not a terrible start, certainly some signs of life here in the debut, but nothing necessarily jumping out at you screaming about how much this band had to say, and how incessantly and well they would end up saying it. A quick mention of the album art too - I do love the base black cover with the chosen font. Simple, yet powerful. I would have def. picked this up to have a look at it had I been browsing through an LP bin back in the day.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Tue February 28, 2017 12:08 am 
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Awesome write up. Now I have some homework to do. Let's spread this out till October so we don't burn out.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Tue February 28, 2017 2:49 am 
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I've only ever heard beds are burning and it's pretty awesome


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Tue February 28, 2017 3:47 am 
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You're missing out bugs - these guys are great. I'd guess that they have a lot of stuff that you would like.

Try out 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and the Species Deceases EP for sure.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Tue February 28, 2017 3:51 am 
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LetMeSleep wrote:
Awesome write up. Now I have some homework to do. Let's spread this out till October so we don't burn out.

Thanks and agreed. I was all set and raring to do the initial write up there when I started this thread at 2:30 Saturday morning, but soon passed out so didn't make it. Probably lucky that as at the time my output would have probably been along the lines of "WHOO-HOOO!! THIS SONG FUCKING ROCKS!!!" for every track...

Yep, slow and steady wins this race - I'm in no rush here.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Tue February 28, 2017 6:28 am 
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Higgs wrote:
You're missing out bugs - these guys are great. I'd guess that they have a lot of stuff that you would like.

Try out 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and the Species Deceases EP for sure.

Keep checking in here, bugs, for the next year. There's eleven albums all available on Spotify and it looks like we're going to LAL to them all.

But Species, Diesel and Dust, Blue Sky Mine and 10-1 are must listens.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Fri March 17, 2017 2:08 pm 
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Head Injuries - 1979
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Straight off the bat this is a better sounding album than its predecessor. Better produced and more grunt. Just one look at the cover shot and you get a pretty good idea of what you are in for.

Press play and Cold Cold Change comes barging out at you, the guitars of Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey gelling into the classic and distinctive Oil's guitar sound. This is a great song, ballsy and bold. Straight away you are taken to a place that is less "produced" (but with better production), more raucous, more live than anything from the first album, and my God it sounds so much the better for it. Love this song, love that it fully announces who these guys really are and what they are about. 4.5 stars.

Onto song 2 and we are off to the lovely (?) Bondi Beach. Section Five (Bus to Bondi) is a bit of a different beast in that it shows some of the progressive, post-punk musical choices/flourishes that the band experimented with on parts of this album. It's not bad for that really, but Midnight Oil, even at this early stage of their career, would seem to be a good enough band and enough in control of their own musical output to make generally good decisions about their sounds. I can't actually think of what I'd call a straight up bad Oils song at this point. Granted, that may well change by the time I'm through this LAL, but we'll get to that if we get to it. Still, this tune starts out with a quirkly little organ(?) riff, but soon enough the rest of the band kicks in and takes the tune away. No idea what the lyrics are about, except that perhaps Pete seems quite happy to get to have a swim at the beach. Which is nice. The bass line in this song kicks arse too. 3 stars.

Track 3 is Naked Flame and this starts off with a falsetto screech from Garrett over a repeating clean riff and a cowbell beat. What's not to love? This song travels a quirky musical path, meandering and changing up as it goes. Keeps it interesting, but not particularly great. I'll leave it with a 2 star rating I think.

Happily track 4 gets us back to what we are here for. Back on the Borderline is a straight up slab of rock, with all the usual Midnight Oil pieces in place. The guitar interplay in this is again classic Midnight Oil - these guys seemed to manage to lock in to each other in a manner similar to Angus and Malcolm Young, but without the fireworks, but with far more sophisticated and interesting patterns. Great stuff. 3.5 stars here.

Koala Sprint is track 5 and this is one of the first times that I hear Midnight Oil playing with the idea of the space available in their music. Over the course of their albums I've often enjoyed most the few songs they put out with surprisingly open soundboards - it wasn't all pedal to the metal pub rock, the louder the better. Here they move around a bit and the song goes through a few distinct sections before an extended instrumental run out. A curious, interesting piece this. 2.5 stars.

Onto No Reaction, track 6. This could be The Angels listenning to the openning guitar riffage. That's not a terrible thing by any means, just saying is all. This is a fairly straight forward rocker with a very cool rolling drum beat by Mr Hirst, who, as ever, is no shrinking violet behind the kit. I actually quite enjoy this tune and note the first appearance of Peter Garrett's harmonica on this one. This is also another of the various "complacency" songs that I mentioned in my first album review. That appeals to me. This is a 3 star deal.

Track 7 is, in my opinion, the first stone cold Midnight Oil classic. Stand In Line just fucking rocks. I love everything about it and can listen to it pretty much over and over when the mood suits. A great song to throw on the stereo to get yourself charged before heading out on a Friday or Saturday night. 5 stars, easy.

The album closes at 8 tracks with Profiteers, a calming come down after the rawk of Stand in Line. No idea what the lyrics are all about at all, but the music is, as ever, solid and goes to some interesting places. Finishes the album with a clean pallette as Hirst's marching drum beat on his snare closes it out. 3 stars.


This was a pretty easy listen and highlights the growth of the band since the first album, as well as clearly showing the experience and smarts they were obviously gaining from their relentless touring of the time. This album set the groundworks for what was to come and showed them really trying out some interesting things and developing their own Midnight Oil sound.

Overall it averages out at a solid 3.3, which seems about right compared to the first album's 2.7. These guys are getting better.

The cover art on this one is great too. That's a pretty iconic image here and one that is instantly recognisable to almost any Australian. The equally iconic "hand" logo came from the liner notes included with this album. It's been used extensively since and is pretty cool imo.

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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Fri March 17, 2017 2:11 pm 
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A pretty imposing front man at 6'4 sweating all over you in the front row.

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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Tue March 28, 2017 10:57 pm 
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Midnight Oil - 1978
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I'm not going to do a track by track as there's nothing here that I care about enough to do that. Plus all the tracks kind of intermingle. What is striking is how confident, how dominating and mature the decisions are by the players here. There's a confidence musically to go in a different direction, to release 7 songs on a debut, to have an extended solo, even Garrett has a confidence in his voice that may or may not be warranted. He certainly was the weaker link here (or do I just say that with hindsight. He certainly had the greatest growth).

There is also a sound, a musical landscape that they were a part of. Looking at release dates of that period I can safely say that they were not influenced by certain bands of the period but they definitely are of the same landscape. Bands like The Police, The Damned, Dire Straits and even a few guitar tones and drum sounds reminiscent of Iron Maiden. Yet they are their own voice not yet fully formed but already clearing their throat. I've been trying to figure out who the mentioned bands share as influences but I'm coming up short. Pink Floyd's Animals came to mind at one point.

I'm not sure I'll return to this album and I can't remember if I'd heard it before. It was good to hear though and I'm keen to continue on.

Somewhere around 2.3-2.5 seems about right for this debut.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Wed March 29, 2017 1:20 am 
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That's a pretty spot-on write up there, 'sleep. I think you make great points as to both their confidence as a young band and their seeming lack of any specific touchstone influences. They almost came out already formed as "Midnight Oil" and hit the ground running as such.

I've noticed a significant difference in sound quality between some of these earlier albums and the (possibly remastered) versions of songs that appear on some of the later-year compilations. For instance, listening to Run by Night from the album release and 2006's "Flat Chat" side-by-side it is amazing how much more punchy and alive the later version sounds. Cold Cold Change from "Head Injuries" is another song that has stark differences in sound quality between the 2 releases.

I'm enjoying going through this LAL so far and have discovered some stuff that I wasn't very familiar with, which is always part of the joy. I've also started reading this book:

Image

About Midnight Oil and The Warumpi Band's tour through Central Australia and Northern Territory's Aboriginal Communities back in 1986. Well written and pretty damn interesting so far. This tour bought about the "Diesel and Dust" album in many ways. I actually have a few Warumpi Band albums and play them to give my kids the shits from time-to-time. Their song From the Bush is total 100% gold. Here's them doing it live from my old stomping ground, Broome:



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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Fri March 31, 2017 2:08 pm 
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Head Injuries - 1979
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Pretty much agree with everything you've said about this album, Higgs. This is the beginning of them using the studio to craft an album yet they still retain the energy of a live act here. The rockers on this album hit hard with rather crunchy guitars. The Angels is a great call for No Reaction, a personal favourite on HI. It's also very telling of where PG will head lyrically, drawing a line in the sand, an us or them, a call to action. Garrett is getting to really know his voice in the studio and throws in falsetto and whipers to great effect. And the harmonica introduction is great. There's a depth here that was absent on the first album yet it's only hinting at what's to come.

Standouts: Cold Cold Change, Back On The Borderline, No Reaction, Stand In Line and maybe Profiteers. I do love the way it ends with Hirst's military snare. Is It Now? isn't necessary after that lovely ending. It's an okay song but it doesn't add to the album at all drifting off with a whimper.

3 stars


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Sat April 01, 2017 4:49 pm 
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How the duck did I miss reviewing "Is It Now?".

Jeeze.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Sat April 01, 2017 5:03 pm 
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One could surmise that you'd had an ale or 2?


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Sat April 01, 2017 5:19 pm 
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Fo' sho'.

If I'm LAL'ing a Midnight Oil album I'm pretty certainly beers down.

WHOO!


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Sat April 01, 2017 5:25 pm 
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There are scores of people following this too.


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 Post subject: Re: Place Without a Postcard - The Midnight Oil Thread
PostPosted: Sat April 01, 2017 5:27 pm 
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The crowds love my reviews.


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