Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Some 21 years after its release in August 1987, DIESEL AND DUST, the sixth studio album by the beloved Australian band Midnight Oil, continues to burn a trail across the rock wilderness that is as relevant and politically savvy today as the moment it was created.Â Source of an enduring manifesto of songs that cut across environmental collapse, native human rights, nuclear devastation, and big government, the album earned RIAA platinum in this country (and 7-times platinum in Oz) on its way to desert-island-disc status.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Underscoring Midnight Oilâ€™s activist core was the commitment of its lead singer Peter Garrett â€“ who first campaigned for the Australian Senate on a Nuclear DisarmaÂment Party ticket in 1984, while still in the band (losing only by the slimmest margin).Â Today, six years after amicably departing Midnight Oil in 2002, Garrettâ€™s dedication is strong as ever, as
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the U.S. chart debut of DIESEL AND DUST in 1988, an expanded edition of the album will now contain the long-lost 11th track â€œGunbarrel Highwayâ€ (banned from North American editions of the album because of the lyric â€œshit falls like rain on a land that is brownâ€), coupled with a bonus DVD of the one-hour 1987 Blackfella/Whitefella Tour documentary â€“ its first appearance on comÂmercial home video (with bonus clips of â€œThe Dead Heartâ€ and â€œBeds Are Burningâ€).Â Newly remastered for the first time in two decades, and complete with band member Rob Hirstâ€™s original liner notes, the new package will arrive in stores May 6th on Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINÂMENT.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â DIESEL AND DUST was the penultimate statement from Midnight Oil â€“ Peter Garrett, Martin Rotsey (guitar), Jim Moginie (guitar, keyboards), drummer Rob Hirst, and then-bassist Peter Gifford (who took over the spot in 1980 from Andrew â€˜Bearâ€™ James, and was succeeded in late-1988 by Bones Hillman, the only lineup changes in the bandâ€™s history).Â The opening track, â€œBeds Are Burningâ€ (â€œThe time has come, a fact’s a fact/ It belongs to them, let’s give it backâ€) was a grim reminder of similar battles fought by native American Indians in this country.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â It took the album nearly six months to enter the Billboard chart, despite the fact that it debuted at #1 in
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Four years before, in 1984, Peter Garrett attracted worldwide attention as a â€œrock starâ€ standing for office on the NDP (Nuclear Disarmament Party) platform.Â A caustic figure, Garrettâ€™s outspoken views on everything from native land rights and foreign military bases, to the national I.D. card, logging proposals, and uranium rights, while unfamiliar to many outside his country, were nevertheless piquing imaginations everywhere.Â Garrett, who holds a law degree from the
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (Garrettâ€™s first book was issued in 1987, Political Blues, published by Hodder & Soughton in
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In 1985, Midnight Oil became involved in campaigns for the preservation of rainforest areas in
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The turning point took place in July 1986, when Midnight Oil set out on a tour of remote Aboriginal settlements in Central Australia, the
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Midnight Oil returned to
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â As they wrote, they extensively road-tested the new material with a series of pub dates in late 1986.Â In 1987, they entered the studio with British keyboardist-producer Warne Livesey, who had produced
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â DIESEL AND DUST accurately reflected Midnight Oilâ€™s experiences in the desert the year before.Â In addition to â€œThe Dead Heart,â€ there were extraordinary new songs such as â€œBullroarer,â€ â€œDreamworld,â€ â€œPut Down That Weapon,â€ and of course, â€œBeds Are Burning.â€Â Oil had always sounded distinctively Australian, but the music on the new album evoked a different
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1988â€™s January 26th Australia Day bicentennial celebrated the arrival of the first British convicts in 1788, and the establishment of the British Crown Colony of New South Wales at Port Jackson (Sydney harbour).Â Two centuries later, Midnight Oil was proving that there was more to the rugged subcontinent than kangaroos, koalas, and Crocodile Dundee.Â â€œBeds Are Burningâ€ â€“ an unintentional hit single if ever there was one â€“ was the unofficial anthem for the Aboriginal land rights movement in
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â After a major Australian tour, they proceeded to work extensively throughout Europe, the
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Interestingly, DIESEL AND DUST, recorded and released in 1987, just about marked the one-third point in the 26-year life of Midnight Oil â€“ 11 years after the band was formed in 1976, nine years after they recorded their first album in â€™78; and 15 years before they disbanded in 2002, eight albums later.Â (Although Rob Hirst continues to thrive in his band Ghostwriters, formed as a side project in 1990 and now four albums deep.Â Rotsey joined the band last year, and recorded Political Animal with them, which featured a guest appearance by Moginie; Hillman has also sat in on occasion.)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Blackfella/Whitefella Tour, which inspired DIESEL AND DUST, was nothing less than a life-changing phenomenon.Â â€œIt was the most collectively exciting, eye opening and ultimately saddening experience for us as a band,â€ Hirst concludes.Â â€œWe found people reduced to living under bits of Western refuse, falling prey to Western diseaseâ€¦ petrol sniffing, alcoholismâ€¦ and being misdirected by idiot bureaucrats.Â But at the same time being exposed to the positive aspects of Aboriginal culture.Â There are parts of the trip I still have trouble assimilating years later.â€
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â DIESEL AND DUST by Midnight Oil (Columbia/Legacy 88697 17653 2 8, originally issued August 1987, as Columbia 40967)Â Selections â€“ Disc One (CD): 1. Beds Are Burning â€¢ 2. Put Down That Weapon â€¢ 3. Dreamworld â€¢ 4. Arctic World â€¢ 5. Warakurna â€¢ 6. The Dead Heart â€¢ 7. Whoah â€¢ 8. Bullroarer â€¢ 9. Sell My Soul â€¢ 10. Sometimes â€¢ Bonus track: 11.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Disc Two (Performances contained within the Blackfella/Whitefella Tour DVD documentary):Â 1. The Dead Heart â€¢ 2. Stand In Line â€¢ 3. The Power And The Passion â€¢ 4. Blackfella/Whitefella â€¢ 5. Gotta Be Strong â€¢ 6. Warumpinya (Papunya) â€¢ 7. Best Of Both Worlds â€¢ 8. Nyuntu Nyaalyjirriku (What Are You Going To Do) â€¢ 9. Helps Me Help You â€¢ 10. Waru (Fire) â€¢ 11. Kosciusko â€¢ 12. Beds Are Burning â€¢ 13. Island Home â€¢ 14. Read About It â€¢ Bonus tracks: 15. The Dead HeartÂ (video clip) â€¢ 16. Beds Are Burning (video clip).
All performances by Midnight Oil except number 4 (by Midnight Oil and the Warumpi Band); and numbers 5, 6, 8, 10, and 13 (by the Warumpi Band).