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Midnight Oil

Australia's Midnight Oil brought a new sense of political and social immediacy to pop music: not only did incendiary hits like "Beds Are Burning" and "Blue Sky Mine" bring global attention to the plight of, respectively, aboriginal settlers and impoverished workers, but the group also put its money where its mouth was -- in addition to mounting benefit performances for groups like Greenpeace and Save the Whales, frontman Peter Garrett even ran for the Australian Senate on the Nuclear Disarmament Party ticket.

The band formed in Sydney in 1971 as Farm, and originally comprised guitarists Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey, drummer Rob Hirst, and bassist Andrew "Bear" James; Garrett, a law student known for his seven-foot-tall stature and shaven head, assumed vocal duties in 1975, and the group soon rechristened itself Midnight Oil. After months of sporadic gigs, they began making the rounds to area record companies; following a string of rejections, the group formed its own label, Powderworks, and issued their self-titled debut -- a taut, impassioned collection of guitar rock which quickly established the Midnight Oil sound -- in 1978.

After declaring their independence from the music industry, Midnight Oil grew increasingly active and outspoken in the political arena; after performing in opposition to uranium mining, they supported the Tibet Council before turning their attentions to the unfair practices of the local music industry, and formed their own booking agency in response to the monopoly exerted by area agents and promoters. With their 1979 sophomore effort, Head Injuries, the band scored their first hit single, "Cold Cold Change," and earned a gold record. James left the band the following year due to health problems; with new bassist Peter Gifford, they cut the EP Bird Noises, another chart success.

With 1981's Place Without a Postcard (recorded with producer Glyn Johns), Midnight Oil achieved platinum status on the strength of the smash "Armistice Day," which won the group an American deal with Columbia Records. Their follow-up, 1983's 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, spent over two years in the Australian Top 40; after 1984's Red Sails in the Sunset, Garrett made his run at Senate, losing by only a narrow margin. Participation in the Artists United Against Apartheid project followed, leading directly into Midnight Oil's increased interest in the battles of Australia's aboriginal settlers and a tour, dubbed "Black Fella White Fella," with the aborigine group the Warumpi Band.

The aborigines' plight came to the fore on 1987's Diesel and Dust, the Oils' breakthrough record; sparked by the hit single "Beds Are Burning," the album reached the U.S. Top 20 and made the band a household name. After bassist Dwayne "Bones" Hillman (ex-Swingers) replaced Gifford, Midnight Oil returned with 1990's Blue Sky Mining, which they followed with a concert outside of the Exxon corporation's Manhattan offices in protest of the company's handling of the Alaskan oil spill. (A film of the performance titled Black Rain Falls was later released, with profits going to Greenpeace.) The album Earth and Sun and Moon appeared in 1993, followed three years later by Breathe. Midnight Oil next resurfaced in 1998 with Redneck Wonderland. The Real Thing, only available in Australia, followed in 2001. It was a solid collection of new songs and live tracks from Midnight Oil's magnificent run at the Metro Theatre in Sydney. Capricornia, issued on Liquid 8 in spring 2002, marked the band's 14th album of their career. In December, Peter Garrett announced his split from the band after 25 years. Garrett, who left Midnight Oil on good terms, wished to pursue other challenges. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

milosdad
Love these guys. Was lucky enough to see them at a small, small club at the height of their popularity. Incredible energy.
They really should have made their MTV Unplugged performance a Greatest Hits set...that would be as essential as Nirvana's Unplugged.
Oils are the greatest. Used to watch them on the northern beaches in Sydney. Best live show I have ever seen and was blown away when they achieved success over here. Aussie, aussie, aussie -oy,oy,oy!
2 music groups I miss the oils and the clash.
Midnight Oil rocks they are Awesome like Yothu Yindi and other Great Southern Hemisphete groups.
Nobody dances around like Peter Garret .Other thanACDC it is the best export the world has of Aussie music.Doh forgot to mention Nick Cave
Basement Flat? Lucky Country???
cr.griggs,

An american here that discovered the band with 10,9,8 and to this day remains one of my favorite discs I have ever owned.

KGS
Forgot to mention they have a catalogue spanning 25+ years ..
Ramie ... most of the MTV Unplugged gig can be heard on The Real Thing album. It's available. Check it out - great stuff.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly certain 10,9,8,7,6,5 , 4 , 3 , 2 , 1 having spent over 2 YEARS on the Aussie charts pretty much qualifies as the break through album. That's the trouble with Americans - you think nothing matters until it breaks Stateside. I'm an Aussie living in the U.S and I STILL get people saying Midnight Oil are that 80's band, with that one hit, what was it? Oh yeah, Beds Are Burning.. I still love 10.9.8.7.6.5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 and play it regularly. It's killer ..... :)
great band! always loved em (and I'm a metal-head. lol.)
jolene.saile r
Beds are Burning now takes on a new meaning for me. I support the cause.
telecranker
Oils make my top 10 list of greatest rock bands ever. Power & the Passion.
They did an "Unplugged" session - wonder if that was ever released? It was a fantastic show that didn't make much of a splash at the time... Would love to see/hear it again!
wow! they sure left out a lot of albums on this discography
cdeems9
By Far one of the tightest, greatest bands of all time!! Oil listener for 20+ years. Their live show insane. Everything they put out rocked accept for Breath...not so much. My top picks right now are: Scream in Blue Live entire album...Red Sails of course...10, 9 , 8 , 7 , 6 . . . D i e s e l . . . M i n e . . . T h e y ' r e all phenomenal! Also check out Australia import..'Bes t of both worlds' Live Stuff!
Ruff, and Tuff!. Stuff
sydneygb
No love for Red Sails? I tried to add "Bells and Horns in the Back of Beyond" ... Pandora needs to do some homework!
"...pursue other challenges" indeed.

Peter Garrett has been a member of the Australian federal parliament since 2004, and is currently the Australian federal government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.

http://en.wi k i p e d i a . o r g / w i k i / P e t e r _ G a r r e t t
I agree...RED SAILS is a great album. Species Decreases is pretty good too.
Midnight Oil rocks,especi a l l y with their awesome variety of instruments and accurate politics
Check out Red Sails in the Sunset for those of you looking to expand beyond the puny album listing they have here. "Jimmy Sharman's Boxers" and "When the Generals Talk" are amongst many standout tracks.
seruleanblue
Head Injuries greatest album ever. The Oils at there rawest
The most aware band to ever grace music.
a mix of classic surf rifts, punk rock, and smooth vocal styles, the Oils may have actually been more influential in the philosophica l arena than U2, the Alarm, the Call, and other such politically- c h a r g e d bands... their message is definitely much less ambiguous than any other socially-con s c i o u s group in the history of rock music... and for people looking for positive references to Christ but finding Contemporary Christian Music distasteful at best, the Oils produce...
why should I?
Oh alright, the "7 foot baldie" is now appointed as some earth saving green guy by the new Aussie President. He will do a lot of good powerful things.

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