“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)
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)
Rousing anthem of resistance from the Midnight Oil album that finally put them over the top somewhere outside of down under. Philip Random recalls being ambivalent to both song and album until one day in London, “… a long way from home, out of money, lonely as hell, but it’s a nice day so I’m out walking the Strand, and Sometimes pops up on a friend’s mixtape and holy shit, it suddenly says it all. Let the powers-that-be unleash their violence, push us to the wall, beat us to a pulp, we won’t give in. And then I’m looking up at all these centuries old monuments and statues of respected gentlemen who no doubt did their bit to crush the poor, the meek, the hungry, the foreign, all for the greater good of EMPIRE, and then I’m laughing because I realize they’re all covered in pigeon shit.”
Midnight Oil’s politics have gotten most of the attention over the years, which makes sense. It’s not as if they weren’t 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 and relevant package with 1982’s 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 as good a place to start as any.