Midnight Oil Reopens the Blue Sky Mines On Essential Oils

Categories: Retro Active

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Photos courtesy of Columbia/Legacy Records
In the U.S., Midnight Oil are probably best known for their single "Beds are Burning." The video helped define late-'80s MTV by showing the group (most notably tall, gangly, bald singer Peter Garrett) dancing amid native tribespeople in the desert, while the lyric forcefully argued that their ancestral lands should be given back to them.

The rockers scored more hits with tracks like "The Dead Heart," "Blue Sky Mine," "Forgotten Years," and "King of the Mountain," and remained dedicated to producing material that dealt with political, socioeconomic, human-rights, and environmental issues, often related to their Australian country of origin and its indigenious peoples. If any band could be said to continue the legacy of the Clash, the Oils would be a quite right candidate.

But the band produced a lot more incredible material during their 1976-2002 lifespan, and hopes are that the brand-new 2-CD/36-track anthology, Essential Oils will introduce the band to new listeners as well as bring back some rare material for the core fans.

"It was a perfect opportunity for us to chronologically assemble for the first time and remaster our strongest tracks," says founding member and drummer Rob Hirst via email. "And the so-called 'political' nature of the band was simply an accurate reflection of the preoccupations and passions of the band members and manager."

That the band remained fiercely Australian in outlook and in choice of subject matter is point of pride with Hirst.

"We've always felt so lucky to be Australian, and wanted out birthplace to feature strongly in our music," he offers. "We felt that our country's unique stories, history, landscapes, and colors should inform our work. After all, our culture is a rich and relatively untapped resource -- perfect songwriting material."

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