(Australian 976–2002, 2005, 2009)
Midnight Oil (also known informally as The Oils to fans), were an Australian rock band from Sydney originally performing as Farm from 1972 with drummer Rob Hirst, bass guitarist Andrew James and keyboard player/lead guitarist Jim Moginie. While vocalist Peter Garrett was studying at Australian National University in Canberra, he answered an advertisement for a spot in Farm, and by 1975 the band was touring the east coast. By late 1976, Garrett moved to Sydney to complete his law degree, and Farm changed its name to Midnight Oil by drawing the name out of a hat.
Midnight Oil’s albums which peaked in the Australian Top Ten were 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Red Sails in the Sunset, Species Deceases, Diesel and Dust, Blue Sky Mining, Scream in Blue (Live), Earth and Sun and Moon, Breathe, 20,000 Watt R.S.L., Redneck Wonderland, The Real Thing, Capricornia and Flat Chat. Australian Top Ten singles were "Power and the Passion", "The Dead Heart", "Beds Are Burning" and "Blue Sky Mine". Aside from chart success, both "Power and the Passion" and "Beds Are Burning" were listed by Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) in the Top 30 best Australian songs of all time in 2001. In December 2002, Garrett announced that he would seek to further his political career and Midnight Oil disbanded [extract from wikipedia]
BEDS STILL BURNINING
(Article from Rolling Stones '30 Years of Rock & Roll' May 2002, p17-18 by Jeff Apter)
PICTURE THIS: FIVE SWEATY, RAGGEDY 20-somethings are backstage at Sydney's legendary Bondi Lifesaver. It's December 10, 1977. The band — towering, chrome-domed singer Peter Garrett, guitarists Martin Rotsey and Jim Moginie, bassist Peter Gifford and drummer Rob Hirst (forever after known as Midnight Oil) — have just made a pact. They are chucking in their day jobs and studies and are going to give rock & roll their best possible shot.
"And we knew we could play louder than Rose Tattoo," jokes surprisingly softly spoken frontman Peter Garrett, almost a quarter of a century later.
Today, the band is as much an Australian institution as the novels of Peter Carey or the paintings of Albert Namatijira. Hell, they even have a postage stamp created in their honour. And a tribute album (last year's Power and the Passion). And their portrait hangs in Canberra's National Gallery.
But it ain't all gravy, folks. Garrett and the erudite, talkative Hirst are relaxing at Sydney's Studio 301, laughing (now) about an incident that happened on their 20th birthday, just prior to Christmas 1997. The band somehow found themselves playing Disney World in Florida. Hirst wasn't enjoying America's Sunshine State. He had just spent several days' wages on prescription drugs to get him through an important live-to-radio show. He had pneumonia, caught a few nights earlier in bone-chilling New York. The show was a blur. Life didn't quite have the same rose-coloured hue it did in that dingy band room in Bondi.
"I was so crook," Hirst recalls. "It was the closest I'd come to totaling myself. Meanwhile, others in the band were extremely disturbed at the fact that on our 20th anniversary there we were with Mickey Mouse roadies, the whole disaster."
But Midnight Oil are survivors. Not only did Hirst endure, but the band has just released their 14th studio LP, 'Capricornia' one of the strongest of their career. The album — resonant with Jim Moginie's chiming Rickenbacker and Peter Garrett's spot-them-from-a-mile away vocals — is a far more subtle effort than the bucket of bile that was 1998's 'Redneck Wonderland'. Still there's an unmistakably Australian texture to the record; you can almost smell the eucalypts and see miles and miles of nothing in such songs as "Luritja Way" and "Crocodile Cries", while the album's titled is copped from Australian author Xavier Herbert's 1938 novel, one of the most widely-read and best-known works of Australian fiction. (In its day, Capricornia was considered hugely controversial, due to its scathing assessment of European settlers in the top end: anyone who smells a connection to Midnight Oil's politics is right on the money.) If there's a sound of wide-open spaces, then Midnight Oil — and producer Warne Liversey, now on his fourth album with the band — have captured just that. Again.
"Redneck was an angry record for angry times," Hirst figures. "We got rid of some of that bile. This record is a more uplifting, very positive record rather than hellfire and damnation. I think it's wry and dry in some ways."
As with the band's biggest success, 1987's 'Diesel and Dust', it took a trip to the outback to spark some new life into Midnight Oil, After the globetrotting and platinum-plus times of the 19805, the band had stepped off the gas during the '903. There were studio records: I993's Earth and Sun and Moon, 1996's Breathe, 1998's Redneck Wonderland. But in between there was a live album (Scream in Blue), a best of (20,000 Watt RSL) and a whole lot of downtime. Now in their 405, the band found that families and other priorities, such as Garrett's involvement with the Australian Conservation Foundation, and Hirst's moonlighting with the Backsliders and the Ghostwriters, were taking priority.
Rob Hirst has a defense prepared for all of this and more — the postage stamp and the portrait included.
"Simple as this," he says. "We toured really heavily. We had a bunch of kids — there's now about 12 or 14 baby Oils. They grew up, went to high school, and we went back to work.
"The live album came out because there was a horrible bootleg being circulated from a show recorded from a mixing desk in Switzerland. The collection album was only put together because we decided that we could control it," he says, "and it was something that held together. As for the stamp, that was something that was forced upon us — the same with the portrait. As the artist [Ex De Medici] would testify, she had very little exposure to the band."
"These kind of tributes are only misconstrued if you're not moving," says Garrett. "We knew we were still on it, still moving."
The 2000 trip to the wilderness of Papunya ("out of mobile range,"Garrett adds), was a sort of home-coming. The band hadn't visited the spot since the legendary Black-fella/Whitefella tour with the Warumpi Band in 1986. It helped the quintet and their manager, Gary Morris, get some perspective on the past and a plan for the future. They also started figuring out some new tunes.
"We were in a Land Cruiser groaning with more raw meat than six men should ever eat," Hirst recalls. "We talked about everything the band was, the Olympics, our involvement."
While in Papunya, the band did some shows for kids and caught up with locals who the band had met 15 years earlier. Garrett laughs at the recollection.
"They said, 'What are you doing, how you going'? We said that we were playing at the closing of the Olympics; they said,'Oh, we just danced at the opening'."
The band's closing ceremony statement, draped in black outfits with the word John Howard couldn't utter ("Sorry") emblazoned upon them, was the kick-start they needed to get their groove back. Most of the Olympic Stadium yelled their support; four billion TV viewers looked on, wide-eyed.
"The closing ceremony was also a kind of closing for us," Hirst adds. '"Beds Are Burning' was a strong cry about Aboriginal people in Australia, about Australians for Australians. It was a song that demanded to be sung, From my way of thinking we're at a different stage now. We're finding ways of playing together as a band, the sensuality of it." The band has also rediscovered their love of the road. A good part of 2001 was spent touring America, playing to up-for-it audiences who hadn't seen them for seven years. The reviews were universally rapturous, the venues full to bursting. Midnight Oil plan to spend much of this year doing exactly the same.
"We started only three weeks after 9/11, and we weren't sure what the Zeitgeist would be," Hirst says. "People by then wanted to get out, they were glad we were one of the bands that didn't cancel. And in America, as long as your last show was a great one in their memories, it doesn't really matter about the passage of time. "And they didn't know about the stamp, either"
The following 12" EP's and Singles have been ripped from my collection (except for 'One Country' & 'Surfs Up' thanks to Deutros) into mp3 format (320kps) and all artwork and label scans are included.
Trugainini (Single) 1993
01 - Truganini
02 - Bushfire
Trugainini Link (22Mb) New Link 1/11/2014
Blue Sky Mining (12" Maxi Single) 1990
01 - Blue Sky Mine (Food On The Table Mix)
02 - Blue Sky Mine (Single)
03 - You May Not Be Released
Blue Sky Mining Link (37Mb) New Link 3/09/2015
King Of The Mountain (12" Maxi Single) 1990
01 - King Of The Mountain (Mountain Mix)
02 - Instant Karma (Live)
03 - King Of The Mountain (Single)
King Of The Mountain Link (30Mb) New Link 3/09/2015
Armistice Day (12" Single) 1982
01 - Armistice Day
02 - Stand In Line (Live at The Last 2JJ Concert 1981)
Armistice Day Link (25Mb) New Link 26/10/2014
Don't Wanna Be The One (Single) 1981
01 - Don't Wanna Be The One
02 - Written In The Heart
Don't Wanna Be The One Link (15Mb)
One Country (Single) 1991
01 - One Country
02 - River Runs Red
03 - Power And The Passion ( Special Extended Mix )
One Country Link (18Mb) New Link 03/04/2015
Surfs Up Tonight (Single) 1996
01 - Surfs Up Tonight
02 - I See You
03 - Star Of Hope (Live)
Surfs Up Link (12Mb)