Midnight Oil calls it quits
December 3, 2002 8:32 AM   Subscribe

"They kissed no bum and tugged no forelock." Aussie politi-rockers Midnight Oil have hung it up with the departure of their lead singer, Peter Garrett.
posted by scottandrew (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
...and made no difference whatsoever.
posted by quonsar at 8:53 AM on December 3, 2002

oh f-that, quonsar. what've you done with your life?
my first response was a quippy, "wow they're still around" ..still 'diesel into dust' or whatever that album was called (the one with beds are burning) was one incredible album for me when i was 13. it and bauhaus (thanks in part to my brother's girlfriends introduction) opened me up to a lot of music. soon my hair was shaved in stupid ways as i entered the retarded 14th year of life. i love those 'gateway drug' bands that introduce things to you. and Garrett danced like a freak!
posted by Peter H at 9:01 AM on December 3, 2002

yeah, sorry peter. i was trying to be funny, not sarcastic. my first reaction was the same. "you mean those beds are burning guys?!"
posted by quonsar at 9:07 AM on December 3, 2002

"tugged no forelock"?

I didn't even know they were Jewish.
posted by goethean at 9:08 AM on December 3, 2002

Well, I'm glad they lasted as long as they did. Yeah, Peter Garrett's a freak, and sometimes I wish the band was a little less shrill, but I don't think this article overstates their importance. Redneck Wonderland is as good as anything they did in the '80s.

Also, the guy wasn't young when this band started. He's gotta be about 106 now. If he wants to move on, more power to him. I just wonder who's around to pick up the slack, not just in Oz, but anywhere.
posted by chicobangs at 9:09 AM on December 3, 2002

Damn, I love Midnight Oil. Red Sails in the Sunset was one of my favorite albums when I was younger (and they don't even mention it!) A really stellar album. Bummer.

You have to respect people who use their fame for a good purpose, not just to get more famous. If there were more Midnight Oils and U2's out there, more might get done. Yes, they can be pretentious and annoying sometimes (read: Bono) but it's a good thing that they are trying to make a difference.
posted by aacheson at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2002

I'm with you, aacheson. Red Sails in the Sunset and 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 still have heavy rotation in my CD player. In fact, when I got a car CD player installed, my first purchases were those albums so I could still listen to them in the car without the tape deck. I can't say I've been as impressed with the recent work, but I haven't listened to Redneck Wonderland. I'll give it a try.

Also, Red Sails in the Sunset has one of my favorite album covers, with the bomb just exploding in Sydney harbor. Took me a while to realize it wasn't a meteor or blob creature.
posted by trojan_horse at 9:27 AM on December 3, 2002

"tugged no forelock"

Unfortunately, "Fortune is bald behind"
posted by yerfatma at 9:35 AM on December 3, 2002

...and made no difference whatsoever.

...to American Top Forty listeners with the attention span of a hummingbird. In their own country, however, they made quite a lot of difference.

It seems to me that what we're saying
Nobody really wants to talk about it
This is no time to be wondering why
I do the best I can do
The human jungle and the global zoo
I'll find my way it's a very special way...

posted by rory at 9:46 AM on December 3, 2002

I really think Capricornia is every bit as good as Red Sails - they're both on my heavy rotation list. Lines like "I've got the cure for compassion fatigue / Spend a week with the Timorese" and music that gives me chills every time I hear it. The weekend Paul Wellstone died, I just wandered around for a while listening to "Bedlam Bridge" over and over.
posted by nickmark at 9:47 AM on December 3, 2002

no rub, quonsar - sorry for bein a jerk myself
posted by Peter H at 9:56 AM on December 3, 2002

As long as they walk the walk, more power to em. I would
be slightly curious though, to know what size their homes are, or what type of cars they drive, or if they live on the same type of oceanfront property, that they seem to have a big problem with anyone else owning.
posted by Beholder at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2002


You mean that they are guilty until proven innocent - not only must they do good, they have to prove it to you as well.

I quite liked the bald guy, their music was still shit though.
posted by niceness at 10:33 AM on December 3, 2002

...and made no difference whatsoever.

They were popular in LA on KROQ in the early 80's. And by the late 80's were in heavy rotation on the radio during my years of college in Southern Cal. So yes, in my neck of the woods they will be greatly missed.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:33 AM on December 3, 2002

Peter Garrett's site is worth a look, too. 10,9,8... is still a fantastic record; it changed my head around when I first heard it on college radio.
posted by mediareport at 11:11 AM on December 3, 2002

This band changed my life. Really. I'll never forget going to Alpine Meadows in '85 to see UB40 play with Black Uhuru and being ultimately pissed off that Uhuru was a no-show and some unknown band called Midnight Oil was taking their place. As they took the stage to a chorus of boos, they immediately broke into "Kosciusko" and silenced every complaint. Touring for Red Sails, on what I think was their first US run, they smashed us with music lightning-fused to clear and staggering lyrics... "and ears can't hear/ what eyes don't see/and ya can't see me", right smack dab in the middle of Reagan's "Morning in America." Infectiously animated by Garrett's monstrous whirling and waving of those huge hands while screaming "We've got the best of both worlds...", it was a 110-decibel wake up call to me that there was a whole other world out there full of fresh, dissenting views.

Six years later, I was living in Melbourne, a midwest boy whose friends thought Australia was somewhere in Europe, and started to thrive in that wondrous land of Oz. Thanks, Oils.
posted by buzzv at 11:12 AM on December 3, 2002 [1 favorite]

I remember being blown away, just completely blown away at a show in Oregon in '93 - Political or not, they were stunning live. They've been a favorite of mine since Red Sails -

Check out Scream in Blue, the live album. Solid from top to bottom, the older performances are especially incendiary... I still get goose bumps listening to Hercules off that album. They'll be missed.
posted by jalexei at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2002

I am so very glad I got to pound on the stage at Garrett's feet earlier this year. A fond farewell to one of my favorite bands. It's incredibly hard to stay fresh and keep making great music over two decades. These guys pulled it off and then some.

I'll be keeping an eye on Garrett.
posted by frykitty at 2:09 PM on December 3, 2002

The oils will certainly be missed by a great many and I can't imagine anyone replacing Garrett. Whether or not they live in big houses or whatever is not relevant - you don't have to wear a hair shirt to make a statement.

Look out for him in the political arena, though ...
posted by dg at 2:49 PM on December 3, 2002

Hopefully, Mssr. Garrett will make it into oz parliament and give the australian political beast some form of conscience, at least.

(Sting and Midnight Oil in the late 80's introduced this young man to social responsibility and global issues - they might have their own styles of music, but their messages still hit their marks)
posted by elphTeq at 3:28 PM on December 3, 2002

US Forces give the nod
It's a setback for your country
Bombs and trenches all in rows
Bombs and threats still ask for more
Divided world the CIA
Who controls the issue
You leave us with no time to talk
You can write your own assessment

Sing me songs of no denying
Seems to me too many trying
Waiting for the next big thing...

Ah, the oils fueled my nascent america-bashing decades ago, when I was a mere whelp. They were indeed a fantastic live band.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2002

"Scream in Blue" got me totally geeked up. About the best live record I ever heard. I haven't bought their last few (and maybe because of that I was part of the problem) but I never had any complaints about them. I always wished people realized there was much more to them than "Beds Are Burning."
posted by schmedeman at 7:30 PM on December 3, 2002

Midnight Oil was my first ever concert -- it was 1988 I think, and I still have the t-shirt somewhere. They were my big introduction to concept that one could be politically motivated and rawk at the same time.
posted by jess at 7:56 PM on December 3, 2002

In their own country, however, they made quite a lot of difference

Empty sloganeering, filming video clips in the desert and generally being 'right on' had pretty much the same effect in Australia as it does anywhere else, which is to say none.

I don't have anything against political bands, but everytime Peter Garrett comes on the box I can't help but be reminded of the "Sting Cares" series from TV Go Home
posted by backOfYourMind at 9:52 PM on December 3, 2002

Yeah, right, whatever. If you assume that the only measure of political impact is winning a seat in parliament, and the only measure of musical impact is selling a zillion copies of each and every record, then you might well come to that conclusion.

Good luck in convincing anyone that your local backbench MP is a more significant political figure than Peter Garrett, or that Savage Garden gave us a more lasting musical legacy than Midnight Oil.
posted by rory at 2:36 AM on December 4, 2002

I heard Peter Garrett speak at a small local forum on nuclear disarmament that was held in a pub in Sydney, part of a series of Friday-night things called "Politics in the Pub." This would have been in 1996. He was among the most cogent and intelligent speakers I've listened to. Unlike a lot of anti-nuke freaks, he actually grappled with some of the serious problems of disarmament - logistics, verification, global security - and was willing to admit that he didn't have all the answers. I think he heavily influenced a number of people there.
posted by nickmark at 7:04 AM on December 4, 2002

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