“I remember seeing Midnight Oil live when they were as big as they’d ever get (late 1980s sometime), saving the world from ecological ruin one song at a time. They introduced Power and the Passion as a surfing song, which makes sense, because there’s nothing more powerful or passionate than a big wave, all that planetary evolution and movement coalescing across four billion years of evolutionary ebb and flow and yin and yang to conjure this fabulous monster which, if your skills are to up to it, you can actually ride. So not man vs nature so much as man in tune with it, which, in their prime, The Oils were just powerful and passionate enough to make you believe was possible.” (Philip Random)
“Australian outfit Hunters + Collectors took their name from a Can song, though you’d be hard pressed to make the connection as things evolved. But back at the beginning of things, their first album in particular, if you were looking for the big true primal sound of Down Under in all of its dust and grime and imponderable, uninhabitable vastness – well, it was all there. Or in my particular case, it was a local rawk club, 1986 or thereabouts, way the hell out in suburban Richmond (British Columbia, that is), the kind of place where cool bands never played, but for whatever reason, someone booked Hunters + Collectors. Just getting there was a journey in itself but trust that minds were blown, souls were lifted. Particularly as Run Run Run roared through its epic second half. ‘For the ages,’ somebody muttered afterward. And it the whole nine minutes were that strong, well, it’s probable the Eschaton would already have been immenatized.” (Philip Random)
Second of two in a row from Midnight Oil, who by the mid-80s weren’t just wearing their progressive politics on their sleeves, their front man Peter Garrett was actually running for office (no he didn’t win, but he would eventually). Red Sails At Sunset was their album of the moment (telling big scary, ugly truths about racism, nuclear apocalypse, environmental meltdown), with Best Of Both World standing tall as a possible alternative Australian national anthem. “I’d stand for it.” (Philip Random)
Midnight Oil’s politics have gotten most of the attention over the years, which makes sense. It’s not as if they were ever not wearing them on their sleeves, with U.S. Forces as good an example as any. But the music should also be noted, because here was an outfit that could rock every bit as hard as the Clash, while also working the sort of pop precision you’d expect from an XTC. And with lyrics like, “Everyone too stoned to start a mission, People too scared to go to Prison,” you had a pretty rich package.