- 15 August 2014
From their beginnings in the 1970’s on the pub circuit of Sydney’s Northern beaches Midnight Oil went on to win audiences across the world with their fierce commitment to environmental, social, anti-war and indigenous rights issues.
‘The Making of Midnight Oil’ is major public exhibition opening June 2014, which maps that journey and examines the band’s impact on social and cultural history across a 40-year period.
Amongst the wealth of items on display will be a stage recreated with Rob Hirst’s water tank, dingo and roo from the Diesel and Dust tour, Peter Garrett’s microphone and other instruments. Throughout the space the band’s original road cases have been reworked into display cabinets housing a myriad of fascinating objects, guitars, amps and pedals, iconic stage wear including the ‘Read About It’ overalls and Olympic ‘Sorry Suits’ and a huge array of banners, posters, rare photographs and original lyrics.
Two large screens reveal new and unseen film footage including a documentary on the recording of 10,9,8 by Robert Hambling and touring footage from the 1980’s by film maker Ray Argall, who also made ‘The Power and The Passion’ clip.
A surround sound booth with a sign saying ‘The Antler’ aims to capture some of the atmosphere of what it was like to be in the audience at an Oils gig, complete with sticky beer stained carpet, gaffa tape, elbows sticking out of the walls and a rare and unearthed piece of footage of the band filmed at the 1981 festival ‘Tanelorn’. Along one wall of the gallery a massive 30-foot wide banner from the band’s protest gig outside New York’s Exxon headquarters proclaims ‘Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes You Sick’.
In support of the exhibition, Sony Music are making available for the first time on DVD the documentary of that protest gig, ‘Black Rain Falls’. Also in support of the event, remastered versions of the band’s entire early catalogue are being made available for the first time on CD.
‘The Making of Midnight Oil’ is a free exhibition developed over a two -year period by MAG&M Curator Ross Heathcote in close collaboration with Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst.
Manly Art Gallery & Museum, West Esplanade,10am to 5pm, Tuesday – Sunday
Black Rain Falls and the remastered Midnight Oil catalogue available at the Gallery and through Sanity JB HIFI and also on iTunes
- 1 June 2014
To partner with the release of 'Black Rain Falls', Midnight Oil will be holding an exhibition at Manly Art Gallery & Museum.
The original 30 ft wide banner with the wording ‘Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick’ will be on exhibit in Sydney at ‘The Making of Midnight Oil’ a major public exhibition celebrating the power and the passion of one of the world’s most inspirational rock bands.
Opening at Manly Art Gallery and Museum, the exhibition has been developed in collaboration with Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst and will showcase iconic stage props and instruments, photographs, posters, stagewear and previously unseen films and early clips.
‘The Making of Midnight Oil’ exhibition will be on show at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum, located at West Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095, Open from 10am to 5pm, Tuesday – Sunday from June until 7th September 2014.
Entry is Free It is anticipated that the exhibition will tour to other locations including Canberra and Melbourne at a later date.
- 28 May 2014
Midnight Oil’s 1990 New York concert, ‘Black Rain Falls’, will be released for the first time digitally and on DVD on Friday June 20th in support of the opening of the exhibition ‘The Making Of Midnight Oil’ at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum on the same day.
On May 30, 1990, Midnight Oil interrupted their North American tour for a “special guerrilla action” outside Exxon Oil headquarters on the crowded Avenue of the Americas in midtown Manhattan. The agitprop event from the back of a flat-bed truck drew more than 10,000 people out of the nearby office buildings and onto the street.
The Oils were responding to one of the worst environmental disasters in US history when nearly 11 million gallons of oil were spilled onto the pristine Alaskan coastline by the Exxon Valdez. Twenty five years later the effects of the spill on the landscapes and wildlife of southern Alaska are still being felt.
“There are things we think are so important that they have to be said,” lead singer Peter Garrett told a packed international press conference after the performance, “and the best way we could say it was with song. What happened this morning was just another of the things that this band has tried to do for the last decade or so. We want to take some of the issues that are in the songs back onto the streets where they belong.”
The DVD features all six songs captured live that day: “Progress” (From the 1986 EP, Species Deceases); “Sometimes” and “Dreamworld” (from 1987’s Diesel And Dust); “Blue Sky Mine” and “River Runs Red” (from Blue Sky Mining, 1990); the apropos tribute to John Lennon, “Instant Karma” and the video clip for Midnight Oil’s “King Of The Mountain” (also from Blue Sky Mining), plus commentary on each track from the band.
In addition to the ‘Black Rain Falls’ release Sony Music is for the first time releasing the physical remastered versions of these 8 classic Midnight Oil albums: Midnight Oil, Head Injuries, Place Without A Postcard, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 , Red Sails In The Sunset, Diesel And Dust, Blue Sky Mining, and Earth And Sun And Moon, as well as the EP’s Bird Noises and Species Deceases.
‘The Making of Midnight Oil’ at Manly Art Gallery and Museum is a major public exhibition celebrating the ‘power and the passion’ of one of the world’s most inspirational rock bands.
Developed by MAG&M’s Ross Heathcote in collaboration with Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst and with exhibition design by Wendy Osmond, The Making of Midnight Oil will examine the band’s impact on our social and cultural history across a 40 year period.
As Rob Hirst puts it ‘The first crowd we ever pulled was on the Northern Beaches – in a long-demolished surf-pub called the Royal Antler Hotel. So it’s fitting that our first ever exhibition is in Manly, where some of us still live and make music. It’s a Midnight Oil exhibition, sure. But it’s also the story of a time when music – loud, fast and original – was all that mattered. And about the bands and the beer-halls and the smoky, sweaty, sticky joy of it all.’
The exhibition will showcase rare and iconic items including stage props, instruments, protest banners, hand written lyrics, photographs and posters sourced from public and private collections as well as the band’s own archives. It will also highlight the band’s various actions across the years including the original 30 ft wide banner from the ‘Black Rain Falls’ concert with the wording ‘Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick’.
About Midnight Oil:
From their beginnings in the 1970s on the pub circuit of Sydney’s Northern beaches Midnight Oil went on to win audiences across the world with their fierce commitment to environmental, social, anti-war and indigenous rights issues.
With nearly a dozen songs on the Billboard charts and their album ‘Beds Are Burning’ topping the list of 100 Best Australian Albums Of All Time, Midnight Oil were not only a musical force to be reckoned with, but a band whose conscience resonated with audiences not just in Australia, but in the USA, Canada, South America, South Africa and across Europe.
‘Black Rain Falls’ is available to purchase digitally and on DVD from Friday June 20th
Midnight Oil Remastered physical albums available to purchase from all good music retailers from Friday June 20th.
The exhibition is located at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum is at West Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095. The Gallery is open 10am - 5pm Tuesday – Sunday and ‘The Making Of Midnight Oil’ will be on show from 20th June until 7th September 2014. Entry is Free
- 5 April 2013
MIDNIGHT OIL CELEBRATED WITH ESSENTIAL OILS,
DOUBLE-DISC COLLECTION OF RECORDINGS SPANNING 1978-2002,
CURATED BY THE BAND
36-TRACK COLLECTION FEATURES 28 SINGLES AND 8 ALBUM TRACKS, SPANNING EVERY ALBUM (AND TWO RARE EPs)
Available everywhere April 30, 2013, through Columbia/Legacy
The power and the passion of one of the world’s most inspirational rock and roll bands comes across with fury on ESSENTIAL OILS, the first double-CD chronology ever assembled on Australia’s favorite sons, Midnight Oil. Containing 36 songs, handpicked by the band, the tracklist covers every one of the Oils’ 12 studio albums (and two of their rare 1980s EPs). ESSENTIAL OILS will be available everywhere April 30th through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.
ESSENTIAL OILS spotlights the band's early development years (1978-1985) on the first disc before moving on to their tenure as a world-class touring and recording outfit (1987-2002) on the second disc. The songs that won them a global audience pour out like a machine gun volley to the heart: “Beds Are Burning,” “Dreamworld,” “The Dead Heart,” “Blue Sky Mine,” “Forgotten Years,” “King Of the Mountain,” “Truganini,” and more.
Midnight Oil won audiences with their fierce commitment to social, environmental, anti-nuclear, and human rights causes, especially the plight of Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal native culture. During the divisive Reagan-Bush era, a period that turned out to be as volatile and disenfranchising as the late-1960s, Midnight Oil’s conscience struck a raw nerve in America. Nearly 20 years into their career, they earned critical and commercial success in the U.S. (and UK) that would stand them in good stead for their next decade, until their official disbandment in 2002.
From 1978’s “Run By Night” (off their self-titled debut LP on the indie Powderworks label) to 2002’s “Luritja Way” (from their final album, Capricornia), ESSENTIAL OILS collects 28 Midnight Oil single sides, and eight well-chosen album and EP tracks. “For this collection,” said the band’s guitarist/keyboardist Jim Moginie, “we put our most definitive songs in chronological timeline, so listening feels like a turbo boosted journey at light speed through 25 years of being in Midnight Oil.”
“There’s many more favourites we could have included” added his fellow founding member drummer Rob Hirst, “but we had fun writing and recording all of these and loved playing them live. We also think they show the dynamics and diversity of the tracks we recorded in studios in Australia and overseas, and chart the band’s changing sounds, stories and memberships over a 25 year period.”
“In their time,” writes Rolling Stone magazine Senior Writer David Fricke in his liner notes to ESSENTIAL OILS, “on stage and record, there was nothing in rock – in Australia or anywhere else – like Midnight Oil.” Fricke cites their “14-album, 25 year campaign against glitz, injustice and complacency, corporate greed and environmental crime, by a band that had everything going against it but believed – stubbornly, rightly – that nothing would stop it.”
From 1988 to 1993, Midnight Oil placed nearly a dozen songs inside the Top 20 of Billboard’s Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock charts, starting in 1988 with “Beds Are Burning,” which has the distinction of being listed in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock. The success of “Beds Are Burning,” and the two singles that followed, “The Dead Heart” and “Dreamworld,” brought RIAA platinum sales (and RIAA gold in the UK) for 1988’s Diesel and Dust, the Oils’ sixth studio album, which spent over one year (55 weeks) on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
“Beds Are Burning” would go on to be listed by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) in the Top 30 Best Australian songs of all time, a list that also includes “Power and the Passion.” In an APRA survey of The Top 10 Best Australian Songs Of All Time conducted in 2001, “Beds Are Burning” was ranked #3 behind the Easybeats’ “Friday On My Mind” and Daddy Cool’s “Eagle Rock.” Midnight Oil has won 11 ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Awards and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006. Most recently, Diesel and Dust was ranked #1 in the best-selling book The 100 Best Australian Albums by O’Donnell, Creswell and Mathieson (Rizzoli, 2010).
1988 was the beginning of a decade-and-a-half-long juggernaut that often made headlines, not just in the rock press, but in newspapers and on television around the world. In fact, 1988 marked a full ten years since the coalescing of the first Midnight Oil lineup, as heard on their debut LP: Jim Moginie (guitar, keyboards), Rob Hirst (drums), Andrew ‘Bear’ James (bass), the threesome who played in a cover band called Farm as far back as 1971; Peter Garrett (lead vocals, with his law degree from the University of New South Wales); and Martin Rotsey (guitar).
Garrett’s presence was especially riveting, “massively tall, bald singer Peter Garrett,” as www.MidnightOil.com describes him, “who was a one-man furnace, radiating passion, wit and a bit of righteous indignation, always covered in sweat and dancing like a dervish with a cramp.” Personnel changes were minimal. When ‘Bear’ retired in 1980 after the second album (Head Injuries), Peter Gifford replaced him, until he too retired in 1987 when the bass was taken up by Bones Hillman. The lineup was then intact until 2002.
It was also during 1990 (May 30th), when Midnight Oil interrupted its North American tour for a “special guerilla action” in front of the Exxon Building on crowded Sixth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The agit prop event was a live concert from the back of a flat-bed truck that drew over 10,000 people at the high noon hour. The band was making public its feelings on the planet’s crumbling environment.
“It was always a desire of ours to be able to play a big city like New York on the streets,” lead singer Peter Garrett told a packed international press conference after the performance. “We chose the front of the Exxon Building not because we attribute any special or particular blame to that corporation, but because the spill of oil in Prince William Sound from the Exxon Valdez and the whole history of what happened since that period of time for us was a perfect image and metaphor for what's going on around the world – in our country, in Europe, in the Third World, and here.”
The event took place during the reign of Blue Sky Mining, the follow-up to Diesel and Dust and Midnight Oil’s highest-charting U.S. album (#20). Both albums were produced by Warne Livesey, best known (at the time) for his work with The The, Deacon Blue, and fellow Aussies Icehouse. Livesey was a key element in Midnight Oil’s burgeoning international success. But Blue Sky Mining resonated around the world because it was named in honor of the blue asbestos miners in Western Australia who developed mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, considered the single greatest industrial disaster in Australian history. In 1988, they finally won their first court battle, setting off litigation and settlements that would go on for years.
Midnight Oil fans grew accustomed to (and expected) such social activism from their band. As far back as 1982’s 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 (their first LP to be picked up by Columbia Records in the U.S.), they had enlisted British wunderkind producer Nick Launay (known for his work at the time with UK post-punk groups Public Image Ltd. and Gang Of Four) to develop the soundscapes that informed such reactionary songs as “US Forces” and the anti-apathy anthem “Power and the Passion.” Midnight Oil was saying they would not be boxed in by geography, precedent, corporate/government agenda, or their own or anybody else's expectations. The album spent over 200 weeks on the chart in Australia, hitting 3-times platinum, and opening the college market in the U.S. for Midnight Oil.
Their 1983 album, Red Sails In the Sunset, was released against the backdrop of Peter Garrett making a run for the Australian Senate on a Nuclear Disarmament platform. Their 1985 EP, Species Deceases was released to mark the 40th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings that ended the Second World War.
In 1986, they recorded “The Dead Heart” for the ‘handing back’ ceremony of Uluru (then Ayers Rock) to its traditional Aboriginal owners. Midnight Oil was then invited to tour through some of the most remote communities in the Australian outback with the legendary Aboriginal group, the Warumpi Band, a tour that came to be known as the ‘Blackfella/Whitefella’ tour. Midnight Oil was exposed to the austere beauty of the desert landscape, the inspiring creativity of local indigenous people, and the deplorable conditions under which they existed. The ‘Blackfella/Whitefella’ tour profoundly moved Midnight Oil as they witnessed the great pride and resilience of the indigenous people, embracing their stories and the sounds of the desert into their music.
By the time of 1993’s Earth and Sun and Moon, Midnight Oil had succeeded in replacing the unrelenting assault of their early records with warmer acoustic textures and a more introspective, seductive sound. It provided their entry into Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD world music festival touring scene. They eagerly soaked up new influences that were revealed on their 1996 album, Breathe, recorded in Sydney and New Orleans with producer Malcolm Burn.
Redneck Wonderland followed in 1998, a radical, post-punk, anti-racist, industrial album that railed against a seething anti-migrant and anti-Aboriginal sentiment that was being inflamed for political gain in Australia. At the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Midnight Oil performed for the world with the word ‘Sorry’ emblazoned across their clothing – a reference to the apology due to stolen generations of Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families between the 1890s and 1970s, in many cases never to see their parents again.
Midnight Oil’s final album, 2002’s Capricornia, produced by Livesey, was inspired by the themes of Xavier Herbert’s landmark first book of the same name, published in 1938, based on his experiences in the official government post of Protector Of Aborigines in Darwin. Thus, one of the fiercest and most fascinating journeys in the course of contemporary music came to its proud conclusion. Starting in 2005, Peter Garrett has held a number of significant government posts, while Hirst, Moginie, Rotsey, and Hillman have all pursued numerous music projects since 2002.
“It ended too soon for me,” Fricke’s notes sum up. “But I always keep the music close – everything here and all that's waiting for you beyond this set, if it's your first Oils album. The thrills, fury and defiance – that hope against all odds – never quit. ‘If the Oils should be seen in any particular bright light,’ Garrett told me in 1990, ‘they should be seen as an aberration that can work – that there's room for the rogue angels.’”
ESSENTIAL OILS by MIDNIGHT OIL
(Columbia/Legacy 88725 49763 2)
CD ONE – Selections: 1. Run By Night (A) • 2. Cold Cold Change (B) • 3. Back On the Borderline (B) • 4. Wedding Cake Island (C) • 5. No Time for Games (C) • 6. Don’t Wanna Be the One (D) • 7. Armistice Day (D) • 8. Lucky Country (D) • 9. Only the Strong (E) • 10. Short Memory (E) • 11. Read About It (E) • 12. US Forces (E) • 13. Power and the Passion (E) • 14. When the Generals Talk (F) • 15. Best of Both Worlds (F) • 16. Kosciusko (F) • 17. Progress (G) • 18. Hercules (G).
CD TWO – Selections: 1. Beds Are Burning (H, Mainstream Rock #6) • 2. Put Down That Weapon (H) • 3. Dreamworld (H, Modern Rock #16, Mainstream Rock #37) • 4. The Dead Heart (H, Mainstream Rock #11) • 5. Warakurna (H) • 6. Blue Sky Mine (I, Mainstream Rock #1, Modern Rock #1) • 7. Forgotten Years (I, Modern Rock #1, Mainstream Rock #11) • 8. King Of the Mountain (I, Modern Rock #3, Mainstream Rock #20) • 9. One Country (I) • 10. Truganini (J, Modern Rock #4) • 11. My Country (J) • 12. In the Valley (J) • 13. Surf’s Up Tonight (K) • 14. Redneck Wonderland (L) • 15. White Skin Black Heart (L) • 16. Say Your Prayers (M) • 17. Golden Age (N) • 18. Luritja Way (N).
Source index (album unless otherwise noted):
A – from Midnight Oil (originally issued Australia 1978, Powderworks)
B – from Head Injuries (originally issued Australia 1979, Powderworks)
C – from Bird Noises (EP originally issued Australia 1980, Powderworks)
D – from Place Without A Postcard (originally issued Australia 1981, CBS)
E – from 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 (originally issued Australia 1982, CBS; U.S. 1983, Columbia)
F – from Red Sails In the Sunset (originally issued Australia 1984, CBS; U.S. 1985, Columbia)
G – from Species Deceases (EP originally issued Australia 1985, CBS; U.S. 1990, Columbia)
H – from Diesel and Dust (originally issued Australia 1987, CBS; U.S. 1988, Columbia)
I – from Blue Sky Mining (originally issued Australia & U.S. 1992, Columbia)
J – from Earth and Sun and Moon (originally issued Australia & U.S. 1993, Columbia)
K – from Breathe (originally issued Australia & U.S. 1996, Columbia/W.O.R.K.)
L – from Redneck Wonderland (originally issued Australia & U.S. 1998, Columbia)
M – from The Real Thing (Studio and live recordings, originally issued Australia & U.S. 2000, Columbia)
N – from Capricornia (originally issued Australia 2002, Sony Music & internationally on Liquid 8)