Midnight Oil: Classic or G'dud!

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Flippin' through the channels this weekend, stumbled upon the ancient clip of "Beds Are Burning" by ye olde Midnight Oil, featuring Peter Garett's jerky histrionics and disco-dancing Aborigines. Though ulimately relegated to the cruel realm of one-hit-wonderdom here in the States, the Oils had a reasonably distinguished career elsewhere. I still remember the vids for "Read About it" and "the Power & the Passion" and thinking they were pretty righteous. Moreover, "Best of Both Worlds" is a fuckin' lost classic, I think.

Whatever became of them.....and what say you?

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 17 March 2003 19:41 (eighteen years ago) link

the same thing that happened to yahoo serious, vegemite, and koala blues.

jess (dubplatestyle), Monday, 17 March 2003 19:48 (eighteen years ago) link

last year, i think, they finally called it a day with garrett possibly going onto some sort of leftist politics career (although i haven't seen him involved in anything yet)

ubiquitous down here in late 70s - early 80s and, i suppose, the acceptable face of stadium style rock. i couldn't stand them but, at least, they weren't Inxs.

phil turnbull (philT), Monday, 17 March 2003 20:06 (eighteen years ago) link

http://www.midnightoil.com/media.html

Jazzbo (jmcgaw), Monday, 17 March 2003 20:28 (eighteen years ago) link

Classic for being relentlessly political and walking the walk not just talking the talk and setting it to a beat so you could dance to it.

teeny (teeny), Monday, 17 March 2003 20:47 (eighteen years ago) link

if i told you garrett is a better singer than a politician, and i think his voice sucks...

gaz (gaz), Monday, 17 March 2003 21:48 (eighteen years ago) link

He has a FUN voice. "...got mawhr sayee than thuh peeepool, got mawhr sayee than thuh peeepool, yeauhhhh!"
He's got singalongability!

Lord Custos Epsilon (Lord Custos Epsilon), Monday, 17 March 2003 21:52 (eighteen years ago) link

Damn....that pic vanished. Ah well, here's the Aussie:

http://image.allmusic.com/00/amg/pic200_web/drp100/p151/p15173bocj2.jpg

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 17 March 2003 21:57 (eighteen years ago) link

Yep. He got his start as the bad guy in "The Hills Have Eyes."

Lord Custos Epsilon (Lord Custos Epsilon), Monday, 17 March 2003 21:58 (eighteen years ago) link

Ahahahahaha..

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:02 (eighteen years ago) link

"Hey, matey, you got a reel purdy mouth...why don't you come ovah heer and squeal like a wallaby for me?"

Lord Custos Epsilon (Lord Custos Epsilon), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:06 (eighteen years ago) link

poor garrett. he seems like a nice bloke. do nice blokes RAWK, though? Plus as the bands mouthpiece, having your lyrics written by the drummer must tell you something.

gaz (gaz), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:09 (eighteen years ago) link

They were not one hit wonders in the US. They actually had a string of videos that saw a great deal of rotation on MTV and VH1 back in the day. They got shitloads of play on Dave Kendal era-120 minutes as well.

Mike Taylor (mjt), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:11 (eighteen years ago) link

Dud. I threw on Diesel And Dust the other day and it was basically mediocre "college rock" with some guy obnoxiously yelling vague platitudes or suggesting we give the land back to the aborigines. "Sometimes" worked the best as far as the vague platitudes go. I need to listen to my copies of Blue Sky Mining and Earth Sun And Moon to see if they've aged just as horribly. And every time I see them on VH1 Classic they scare me even more.

I'm glad Garrett's decided to stop talking the talk but keeping walking the walk. Though I don't want to see him do that funny walk ever again.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:12 (eighteen years ago) link

Peter Garret (along with Sinead, Right Said Fred, Michael Stipe, and the moron who sang for Live) helps prove that bald people are the worst dancers in the world. However, I always kinda liked the melody of "Blue Sky Mine." Also, they were inspired by Angel City*, I think (not by Angel City's GOOD songs, admittedly, but let's not be picky.)

* -- That's "The Angels" to all you marsupials in the land downunder.

chuck, Monday, 17 March 2003 22:18 (eighteen years ago) link

They were not one hit wonders in the US. They actually had a string of videos that saw a great deal of rotation on MTV and VH1 back in the day. They got shitloads of play on Dave Kendal era-120 minutes as well.

Having a video does not equate with having a "hit". Ask John Q. Public on the street to name a Midnight Oil song, and if they can do it, it'll invariably be "Beds Are Burning." Yes, they had other songs (so did Devo), but the only one anyone seems to remember is that one.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:21 (eighteen years ago) link

I love the live footage where Peter Garrett is howling his lyrics from the top of a marshall stack; he blunders off the stack and falls into the audience; and he blithely gets back up and gets back into the song right on cue.

Lord Custos Epsilon (Lord Custos Epsilon), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:21 (eighteen years ago) link

they were inspired by the angels? "am i ever gonna see your face again (no way, get f**ked, f**k off!)" are you sure chuck?
i guess i can see a similarity between doc neesons's dancing and garretts...

gaz (gaz), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:22 (eighteen years ago) link

I think 'Dreamworld' off something of theirs is a CLASSIC(sorry was never truly versed in the 'oil'. Love the simple non obvious bass part in the 'breakdown' bit.

panico (panico), Monday, 17 March 2003 22:39 (eighteen years ago) link

Custos, that live footage is from when they played outside Exxon's Manhattan offices shortly after the Valdez disaster.

hstencil, Monday, 17 March 2003 22:41 (eighteen years ago) link

some of the guitar sounds on their early work are phenomenally good. i don't particularly rate them from Diesel and Dust onwards but prior to that I think they're pretty good..

electric sound of jim (electricsound), Monday, 17 March 2003 23:42 (eighteen years ago) link

>>>they were inspired by the angels? "am i ever gonna see your face again (no way, get f**ked, f**k off!)" are you sure chuck?<<

nope, not SURE -- that's why I said "I think." I mean, I've never seen them mention it in an interview. But there's definitely some stuff on those Angels albums that sounds proto-Midnight-Oil to me.

chuck, Monday, 17 March 2003 23:53 (eighteen years ago) link

Also inspired by the Angels aka Angel City: Great White, who I believe covered TWO songs by them. Correct me if I'm wrong.

chuck, Monday, 17 March 2003 23:54 (eighteen years ago) link

I kinda liked 10, 9, 8 . . . at the time--pretty impressive in terms of ambition, and the production was artful and dubby and had serious rock crunch to spare when it needed it. Still, awfully stiff and serious, and they only got more stiff and more serious (and slick) as they went on. On the classic end of dud?

Lee G (Lee G), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 00:52 (eighteen years ago) link

Absolute classic, especially the run of albums from between 1979 and 1985. After that, the edges became a little more polished, and the band's energetic spontaneity came to a grinding halt on 1993's Earth and Sun and Moon. Fortunately, they'd recharged somewhat by the time Breathe came out in 1996 and have kept it up ever since.

Best two albums: Head Injuries (1979) and Place Without a Postcard (1981) -- neither of which saw a US release until 1990, after many people quit caring about the Oils at all.

paul cox (paul cox), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I had no idea the angels were influential at all! they hold a special place in the heart of all us 70's oz suburban kids.

gaz (gaz), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 01:02 (eighteen years ago) link

I listened to them a lot during my junior year of high school. My favorite record by them was (and probably still is) Red Sails in the Sunset.

o. nate (onate), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 01:57 (eighteen years ago) link

On the classic end of dud?

See, that's why I miss your music writing Lee.

Jesse Fox, Tuesday, 18 March 2003 02:27 (eighteen years ago) link

Aw shucks.

Lee G (Lee G), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 03:18 (eighteen years ago) link

Classic. Wonderful guitar work, great melodies, great live shows. Yeah their best stuff was early 80's, but the quality's been pretty consistent throughout. Admittedly the lyrics are heavy-handed at times, but the albums are so positive sounding, and they are the band who made me (at age 11) realise how godawful Bryan Adams was.

Poppy (poppy), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 03:34 (eighteen years ago) link

I'm really only familiar with their late-80's/early-90's work but they're not bad based on that. More on the dud end of classic. Diesel and Dust is a pretty solid album and there are good moments on Blue Sky Mining and E&S&M.

Vinnie (vprabhu), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 03:45 (eighteen years ago) link

I saw them after _10 to 1_ came out at Pier something-or-other in NYC in 83 or 84, and they were good, but I really, really loved that record. I haven't heard it in 15 years though, and I specifically haven't bought it again for fear of spoiling it.
They did rawk pretty hard up til that point. I mean, driving 90 mph on the Merritt Parkway to "Bus to Bondi" (Place w/out a Postcard?) was definitive for me. Uh, I remember being disturbed that they seemed vaguely metal-ish on their first album, which was very very bad in my world at the time.

Remember when that Screaming Blue Messiahs dude was around and it seemed like bald people were about to seize control?

Hunter (Hunter), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 05:42 (eighteen years ago) link

Actually, they split up after 20 years together a few months ago, Garret now devoting his time to being the head of the Conservation Society of Austalia.

I've never been a fan of them much, but the Guitarist (called 'Bones'), is a family friend of a friend of mine, so I got back stage passes to what turned out to be their last show at The Forum in Melbourne late last year.

Garret gave a big speech at the Feb 14 Anti-War Rally in Melb (200,000), one day before the Feb 15 rallies the world over. So yeeea...

Rob from Melbourne (Keith McD), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 06:16 (eighteen years ago) link

25 years, maybe? The first ep came out in '78.

paul cox (paul cox), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 06:38 (eighteen years ago) link

i think 10,9, ..1 is classic -- well balanced, not stiff but jerky/quirky, same producer as the better split enz stuff, but i think midnight oil nailed that sound and i have never heard anything like it, the angular thing suggested in split enz is better pilled off by m.o. with better songs (musically, ok ? the lyrics are sometimes melodamatic and over-serious, but i'm told no-one bothers listening to sonic youth lyrics either)

yeah i think this album is the best set of tunes, and heavy only in a very artful way -- the production emphasises the subtle and non-repetetive elements -- i still love it though i know it completley (and the only song that sucks would be called "US Forces")

ok they dumbed down later for all their big arena hits (and when i saw them live there was just one good song guitar solo etc. in the whole show, in the encore, v. dissapointing) but they'd changed for u2 type demographic by then

george gosset (gegoss), Tuesday, 18 March 2003 06:56 (eighteen years ago) link

one year passes...
If there was such a thing as Australiophiles (Koalaphiles?) in the U.S. I'm guessing they'd worship these guys the same way vespa kids love the Jam. Lots of strident, serious anthems and geographical references.

miccio (miccio), Saturday, 13 November 2004 20:12 (sixteen years ago) link

one year passes...
I tend to have a habit of ressurecting old topics but anyways...

CLASSIC!!! I mean, who else dances like Peter Garrett! haha

The Oil's 1979-1985 albums are absolute cult classics down here in OZ. Some of the songs on 'Red Sails...' are like nothing I've ever heard before, like 'When the Generals Talk' and that huge explosion of beautiful sound at the end of 'Kosciuscko'! Brilliant! My favourite Aussie band, bloody legends.

Miranda Leigh (Miranda Leigh), Thursday, 25 May 2006 03:32 (fourteen years ago) link

I always liked "Blue Sky Mine" much more than "Beds are Burning" and it used to annoy me that the latter seemed to get played 20x as much as the former.

Abbadavid Berman (Hurting), Thursday, 25 May 2006 03:35 (fourteen years ago) link

only outrated by sunn o))) and black dice in the 'loudest band i've ever seen' stakes, oddly enough. it was in the lead-up to the 1998 election and they were ANGRY. rarrrr! the government got back in, but it was still a good gig.

lil' merzbow wow (haitch), Thursday, 25 May 2006 03:55 (fourteen years ago) link

Australians will know this already, but for the others who don't... Peter Garrett is now a politician:

http://www.alp.org.au/people/nsw/garrett_peter.php

cnwb (cnwb), Thursday, 25 May 2006 03:59 (fourteen years ago) link

i very vaguely remember a magazine interview w/ these guys (i think that it was in spin, though it could've been rolling stone) circa 1990 where one of the band members (i.e., NOT peter garrett) talks about how they were approached by some american fan who LOVED their big hit song about "hot sex." at first the midnight oilers were puzzled ("what song about 'hot sex'?") till they realized that the fan was referring to "beds are burning."

(they did seem to think that the story was funny, so bully for them for having a sense of humor.)

Eisbär (llamasfur), Thursday, 25 May 2006 05:43 (fourteen years ago) link

Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and the Arts! oh, the power and the passion.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Thursday, 25 May 2006 05:43 (fourteen years ago) link

they were the template for radiohead:

10,9,8... = OK Computer
Red Sails = Kid A

fucking classic, until the bottom fell out with that tired-ass-sounding blue sky mining.

Lawrence the Looter (Lawrence the Looter), Thursday, 25 May 2006 12:23 (fourteen years ago) link

talks about how they were approached by some american fan who LOVED their big hit song about "hot sex."

That's great.

Similar to Colin Hay's story about someone requesting the "one about the goats".

Edward Bax (EdBax), Thursday, 25 May 2006 15:09 (fourteen years ago) link

I get the impression that "Beds are Burning" gives the rest of their stuff a bad name...

Pete Scholtes (Pete Scholtes), Thursday, 25 May 2006 18:56 (fourteen years ago) link

The Oils are absolutely classic Australian rock.

My favourite track is "no time for games" from the Bird Noises EP.

I think the political stuff and the rock gelled well for them.

The drummer (Rob Hirst?) is phenomenal too, one particular huge solo on Power in the Passion.

rchinn (rchinn), Thursday, 25 May 2006 21:18 (fourteen years ago) link

All the musicians in the band are phenomenal and frequently underrated.

I'd have liked Blue Sky Mining to have been recorded with less gloss, but a lot of the songs on there are good and therefore a keeper. The only studio album of theirs I don't care if I ever hear again is Redneck Wonderland... it had no ambition, no direction, no anything. Capricornia was a commendable swan song, though.

Johnny Fever (johnny fever), Thursday, 25 May 2006 22:06 (fourteen years ago) link

three years pass...

"Stars Of Warburton" sounded really nice today. BSM has aged a little better these days (and D&D probably hasn't)

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 21 December 2009 02:39 (eleven years ago) link

Dud. I threw on Diesel And Dust the other day and it was basically mediocre "college rock" with some guy obnoxiously yelling vague platitudes or suggesting we give the land back to the aborigines. "Sometimes" worked the best as far as the vague platitudes go. I need to listen to my copies of Blue Sky Mining and Earth Sun And Moon to see if they've aged just as horribly. And every time I see them on VH1 Classic they scare me even more.
I'm glad Garrett's decided to stop talking the talk but keeping walking the walk. Though I don't want to see him do that funny walk ever again.

― Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, March 17, 2003 5:12 PM (6 years ago) Bookmark

this is perhaps Miccio's most perceptive post ever.

How About a Nice Cuppa Shit on a Shingle, Soldier? (Eisbaer), Monday, 21 December 2009 02:41 (eleven years ago) link

I'd disagree. D&D really sort of embraces its own timeframe without becoming a victim of it. On the other hand, I hear BSM and all I hear (aside from a few good songs) is 19901990199019901990!

Johnny Fever, Monday, 21 December 2009 02:44 (eleven years ago) link

What else do I need to listen to? And I don't have a really good handle as to where they were coming from…they were too old to be inspired by punk…

Saints first single came out over a year before the Oils recorded their first album tbf, but they probably got loud and fast mainly through a) being young and b) trying to grab the attention of drinkers.

10 to 1 is their second-best and second-most interesting album; as everyone else says, Red Sails is the best and most. After that, the Species Deceases EP is the same type of super-tight songwriting and incredibly clean production, but solely on fast rock songs.

(Weirdly for this switch to a more straight-ahead record, it was produced with François Kevorkian - Nick Launay did the previous two albums.)

Rob Hirst a near peerless percussionist

NB to vm: they're one of those bands where everyone writes at least a bit, sometimes with other members, but Hirst is one of the two main songwriters (vying with the lead guitarist; Garrett is in a distant third, sometimes contributing to the others' songs).

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 22:05 (one month ago) link

OK, then: so if Garrett ia distant third in the band as a songwriter, is he the leftist of the band, and the rest of the guys are kinda "we're okay that shit, but he's the one that goes to the mat"; like one of the times I interviewed Tom Morello, I asked him "you and Zach have these beliefs, and they are the raison detre of the band; do the mopes in yr rhythm section care about leftist principles?" He answered noncommitaly that they did, but he clearly didn't like the question and wanted to move onto something else…

veronica moser, Wednesday, 3 March 2021 22:37 (one month ago) link

I don't heard what the antecedents would be… the Who?


While I don’t recall the Oils mentioning the Who in interviews, I think they’re a significant influence. I believe the Oils first shows outside of Australia were opening for the Who in Birmingham (UK) in 1982. And Rob Hirst is wearing a Pete Townshend t-shirt in the recentish Midnight Oil 1984 documentary (to say nothing of his Moon-indebted approach).

I felt that after 10-1 and Red Sails, they kind of fell off a cliff. Diesel had a few good moments, but Blue Sky Mining sounded tired and bland; really, it’s about as much the polar opposite of Red Sails as one could imagine. After that, I stopped paying attention.

Head Injuries is very solid, and Place Without A Postcard has some moments, but sounds not-great, somewhat inexplicably, since it was produced by Glyn Johns.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 22:40 (one month ago) link

I'm with the consensus on 10, 9, 8 ... and Red Sails, both terrific and unpredictable records. I like Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining fine, but those earlier two are the ones I listen to when I want to hear them. (Which is not that often, but I'm always happy when I do.) I have never gone back to the pre-10,9,8 albums.

Plenty of leftist lyrics in Hirst's not-Garrett-cowritten songs, and he even sings lead on When The Generals Talk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNL3xhxGpK8

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 22:49 (one month ago) link

I felt that after 10-1 and Red Sails, they kind of fell off a cliff

SPE. CIES. DE. CEA. SES.

(Diesel & Dust totally goes, but Blue Sky Mining was "what if Diesel & Dust but boring?" so tainted it retroactively.)

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 22:50 (one month ago) link

I know, I keep forgetting about Species Deceases. Also Bird Noises.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 22:54 (one month ago) link

I never gave this band a good listen until now. I don't even think I listened to any Australian bands the last time I checked them out, and that feels relevant given how topical their best music can be. For example, one of my favorite Paul Kelly songs, "From Little Things Big Things Grow," doubles as a history lesson on the Gurindji strike - an extraordinary story that became my gateway into the history of Aboriginal Australians. It won't change whether or not you like Midnight Oil, but I'm sure some of their songs won't feel as sharp if the context is completely lost.

Anyway, I just went through 10,9,8,7... and Diesel and Dust. 10,9,8,7... isn't bad but it didn't really do anything for me musically speaking. However I liked Diesel and Dust quite a bit, including "Beds Are Burning" (which I never hear played anywhere, even though it's supposed to be the "hit"). It's stunning how much of the album deals with Aboriginal land rights, and it does so without feeling limited or monotonous - just the opposite.

Both albums sound very different though, and there's something about the latter that feels like it's more accessible to anyone with a taste for mainstream American rock while the former sounds a bit more daring - I'd normally favor that, but on a basic level the songwriting on Diesel and Dust feels more engaging.

birdistheword, Thursday, 4 March 2021 07:18 (one month ago) link

Looks like I gave my opinion on this thread back in '03 and it still holds. If anything, I enjoy Diesel and Dust more now (not a track I don't like). The next two albums are weaker versions of it with some moments that work. I've had 18 years to listen to their pre-Diesel albums and still haven't done it - time to remedy that!

Vinnie, Thursday, 4 March 2021 09:30 (one month ago) link

Yeah, I think "Diesel and Dust" is start-to-finish great, and definitely more accessible. Aside from the singing it's even sometimes hard to believe it's the same band, and in that regard it reminds me of (in concept) "Laid" by James, a concerted but successful decision to strip things down and back and focus even more strictly on songs. The previous Midnight Oil albums are so full of ideas, not least because the prog-like approach and context didn't force them to discard any of them. Usually for the best, since those albums are rad, but I think there was no good next step further in that direction. Downshifting was inevitable, and D&D was a great example of a band doing so at its peak, not when it ran out of ideas or steam or suffered some setback or failure.

FWIW, I like "Earth and Sun and Moon" better than "Blue Sky Mining." The latter is so sterile and over-considered, the former is a bit looser and more organically band-in-a-room. Both albums have some great songs on it, but "Earth" delivers them better, imo.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 4 March 2021 13:53 (one month ago) link

I also prefer the more organic sound of E&S&M to the one on BSM, but I don't recall liking one album much more than the other. it's been years since I listened to either though

Vinnie, Thursday, 4 March 2021 14:51 (one month ago) link

I haven't listened to Blue Sky Mining in ages, either. I remember liking it well enough, and I do like the title track (the only thing that sticks in my head at the moment). But all the dismissals of it itt make me wonder how it would hold up if I listen again. My sense of liking it is also related to having seen them play on the BSM tour, and they were really good.

I really liked Midnight Oil in like 7th-9th gr. I had Diesel & Dust + bought Blue Sky Mining the day it came out! I loved everything about both of those albums and revisited both recently. I hadn't listened to either in aaaaaages and it was a fun time capsule. My memories of being a little righteous crusader all came back. I never really got into the band beyond those albums.

This thread title always literally makes me lol bc I picture someone posting simply "G'dud"and that's funny.

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 4 March 2021 15:36 (one month ago) link

I can't remember now if I became aware of them circa Diesel & Dust or if I had Red Sails in the Sunset first, but I definitely liked Red Sails more.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 4 March 2021 15:42 (one month ago) link

i definitely only became aware once they had a big single. they probably became uncool because kids like me liked them lol

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 4 March 2021 15:51 (one month ago) link

A friend of mine grew up in Perth and told me that Midnight Oil was so huge in Australia in the '80s that you could literally stop a random person on the street and sing, "US forces give the nod" and they'd immediately respond, "it's a setback for your country." I have no idea how true that is, but I've always wanted to go to Australia to test it out and/or make a fool of myself.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 4 March 2021 16:24 (one month ago) link

Playing Diesel & Dust, I'd forgotten that I bought a bullroarer because of this album. Will have to search that out, if I still have it.

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Thursday, 4 March 2021 17:26 (one month ago) link

they were really smart to go pop because I've been listening to their cool early stuff and they were a mediocre post punk band

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 4 March 2021 19:49 (one month ago) link

XXP: That's probably not too far off the mark, Tarfumes. I'd not be surprised if tracks from the first half of the 80s ("Armistice Day", "US Forces", "Short Memory", "When the Generals Talk", "Power and the Passion", etc) are *still* prominent rock radio fixtures in Aus. Possibly more so than later stuff?!? They certainly were when I was last force-fed daytime commercial radio in the workplace.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Thursday, 4 March 2021 22:48 (one month ago) link

growing up in Oz, the Oils were pretty ubiquitous. it wasnt really a question of liking them or not, everyone sort of accepted them as decent? some ppl prob found them annoying maybe idk.

the question was more if you were INTO them.
i know in high school the ppl who were super into the Oils were mostly dorky farm boys

i don’t think i fully got their impact until i was at university and the relevance of their message became much more clear - but i still dont know if i fully appreciated them musically etc wholly until my 20’s

when a band is THAT ubiquitous it takes a long time to critically assess them on their own merits imo

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 4 March 2021 23:27 (one month ago) link

How popular were Paul Kelly and the Go-Betweens back in the day? In the U.S. they remain more or less critical favorites with a small but devoted cult following. I always wondered if they did that well in Australia - it wouldn't seem logical for a local artist struggling for a hit in Australia to get major label distribution in America, but I could be wrong.

birdistheword, Thursday, 4 March 2021 23:42 (one month ago) link

Paul Kelly had the same ubiquity — was very well known & most everbody knew his music just from radio etc

again - the question was *how* into his music you were, not whether you were into him at all

GoBetweens for me was a bit different - i knew Cattle and Cane but not much else until i started hanging out w cool ppl at university
they didnt the same kind of broad radio play where i grew up (country town, limited to commercial radio for a long time until the broadcast strenth of indie radio improved in early-mid 90’s

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 4 March 2021 23:46 (one month ago) link

and to guard against sicbot corrections
talking abt personal experience in rural victoria, i am not speaking for country as a whole

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 4 March 2021 23:47 (one month ago) link

when a band is THAT ubiquitous it takes a long time to critically assess them on their own merits imo

That all sounds like growing up with the ubiquity of Springsteen in the US in the ‘80s. At a certain point — years, or maybe decades later — those who generally accepted him, but weren’t necessarily fans, stopped and said, “wait, WHY is he so beloved? I should look into that.” And I think the Spin piece in 1985 called the Oils the Australian equivalent of Springsteen.

The Midnight Oil 1984 documentary was tremendously illuminating in terms of their politics/convictions. But that’s where the Springsteen comparison falls apart: Reagan mentioning Bruce in an ‘84 campaign speech was strange: a president is using a rock star to woo voters?! The idea of Springsteen running for office, as Garrett did, at any level would’ve been utterly bizarre and unthinkable.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 4 March 2021 23:52 (one month ago) link

yeah Springsteen comparison re Oils’ ubiquity in Australia is a really good example.

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 5 March 2021 00:09 (one month ago) link

i think with Garret at some point we all just assumed he’d run for political office eventually, it was mors just a question of when lol

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 5 March 2021 00:10 (one month ago) link

*more

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 5 March 2021 00:10 (one month ago) link

if we can just play "ask vg how popular bands were in australia", how about Little River Band

VERY

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 5 March 2021 00:22 (one month ago) link

i think with Garret at some point we all just assumed he’d run for political office eventually, it was mors just a question of when lol

*beep boop* he ran for office in 1984!

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Friday, 5 March 2021 00:40 (one month ago) link

I suspect quite a few people are over Garrett now, post-actual-parliamentary career. But the description of '80s ubiquity seems very OTM.

Paul Kelly was perhaps wise to avoid public office. I've seen no evidence of anyone actively disliking him, ever. It feels like each Xmas every male in Aus confesses to getting misty-eyed over "How to Make Gravy", at the very least. LOL.

I know I had to actively seek out Go-Betweens stuff beyond "C&C"/"Spring Rain"/"Streets of Your Town" in the hiatus period. They were certainly indie-famous, but far as I can tell only "Streets" crossed over to commercial radio, when it was too late. They are possibly more appreciated now.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 5 March 2021 00:45 (one month ago) link

xp re Garrett running for office:

then he quit the party six months later because it had been infiltrated by socialists

then twenty years later he joined the center-center-left party on the invitation of a leader who is now a right-wing nutjob conspiracy broadcaster, got elected, and was forced by the party to publicly renounce his opposition to US spy bases and missile sites on Australian land, publicly declare that he would vote in favour of new nuclear facilities if ordered to (and later became the minister with responsibility for, and approved, the expansion of a uranium mine), campaign in another state by lying that the Greens were in allegiance with the right-wing government, and eventually got sacked and thrown under the bus when a bunch of tradies died installing roof insulation under a gov't scheme that was being rorted by private contractors.

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Friday, 5 March 2021 00:51 (one month ago) link

Correction: Labor leader who was one handshake away from being prime minister is now NSW state leader of One Nation, sitting in the state's upper house.

As someone else who grew up in not-Melbourne Victoria, vg's recollections ring true.

Vernon Locke, Friday, 5 March 2021 01:15 (one month ago) link

less of a correction, more of an addition. it's been a whole 3 hours since he posted video of himself talking to Bolta on Sky News:

IDENTITY POLITICS USED BY ELITES TO KEEP THE REST OF US IN CHECK

The claims of victimisation by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex highlight the fraudulent nature of identity politics. By dividing us on race and gender, the “woke” elites divert attention away from their own privilege!

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Friday, 5 March 2021 01:24 (one month ago) link

I missed that Latham was actually elected in that capacity! Ewwww NSW!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 5 March 2021 01:32 (one month ago) link

(xp) Fair enough. I thought that he's an interviewee rather than an interviewer on Sky these days (not watching video to confirm). The difference is negligible, admittedly.

I owned Scream in Blue at one time, and recall that it was a good 'un.

Vernon Locke, Friday, 5 March 2021 01:36 (one month ago) link

Don’t forget the role Daniel Johns from Silverchair played in Garrett’s downfall

badg, Friday, 5 March 2021 01:49 (one month ago) link

VG: what is the biggest Aussie band in Australia?

AC/DC vs. INXS

oh also is Nick Cave extra big there or just regular high end of indie popularity like here?

also I forgot Divinyls were from Australia!

AC/DC vs. INXS

The Bee Gees formed in Australia, if you want a three-way battle.

Vernon Locke, Friday, 5 March 2021 02:13 (one month ago) link

Cold Chisel and Powderfinger are secretly the most popular Aus acts within Australia. (A lie, probably, but it would be amusing if the statistically correct answer was something that never really traveled well.)

Cave albums routinely go comfortably top #10 in Aus nowadays, so he's pretty popular. Close to a household name, I'd say. Though my mother, for instance, can only name the Kylie duet. (I inadvertently tested this recently!)

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 5 March 2021 02:42 (one month ago) link

Mum only pays attention to Cave to tease me about how old he’s getting lol

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 5 March 2021 03:01 (one month ago) link

Rural wise i think AC/DC is def more broadly popular, and across most ages over 40’s 50’s etc

INXS maybe more popular w under 40’s idk and prob women? but thats a big maaaaybe bc they kinda fucked themselves w all the stupid shit they did after Hutchence died lol

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 5 March 2021 03:07 (one month ago) link

i dont farkin know tbh

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 5 March 2021 03:07 (one month ago) link

Chisel and Powderfinger def feel like much bigger cultural presences

Don’t forget the role Daniel Johns from Silverchair played in Garrett’s downfall

idk if I knew it to forget. too late if so!

The difference is negligible, admittedly.

yeah this is the thing, whether he's streaming drunk on facebook live on a $100k parliamentary pension, paid less than that (+ parl pens) to host on Sky News, or paid less again (+pp) to guest, it's still his main activity, and legislating isn't.

plus he's how he made himself eligible to that voting bloc (2 out of 42 seats: he ran on stopping immigration, blocking renewable energy, requiring DNA tests for indigenous dole recipients, and banning the burqa; used his maiden speech to argue that ppl shouldn't be fired for telling gays that they are cursed to hell)

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Friday, 5 March 2021 03:17 (one month ago) link

According to a Herald Sun article reposted to this forum thread, it's AC/DC over Bee Gees with INXS third, although international impact is considered. Every band mentioned in this revive is in the list.

(xp) Also happy to be reminded of Johns's role!

Vernon Locke, Friday, 5 March 2021 03:37 (one month ago) link

I grew up in 80s Sydney and all the bands mentioned in this thread were ubiquitous with the exception of the Go-Betweens, who were very niche indie back then and never had a hit, I don't think even Streets of Your Town charted.

Zelda Zonk, Friday, 5 March 2021 03:47 (one month ago) link

it got a bit of TV play at the time, and became one of the two Go-Bes songs guest programmers would pick on rage through the '90s, but only charted in NZ.

(Cattle & Cane ranked at #11 and #27 on the first two Hot 100s, clung on desperately at #96 in the final year when Nirvana and nationalisation broke the poll.)

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Friday, 5 March 2021 05:17 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

The Hottest 100 returns have been wretched for at least a quarter of a century

charlie rex, Wednesday, 7 April 2021 03:37 (one week ago) link


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