The thing I’ve learnt from listening to this album is simply ‘Bloody hell, white people suck’.
Diesel and Dust by Midnight Oil was rated as the best Australian album of all time. Number 1. Better than INXS, better than AC/DC, even Crowded House, it was this. An album I had never heard of before by a band I knew only two tracks from.
Annoyingly, one of those tracks xwas the opening number, so the surprise shock of new music wasn’t there. What was instead was the opening three beats of The Beds are Burning, and no one can really complain about that. It’s an absolutely brilliant song that really gets you in the mood to walk with a purpose and pace down the street as people wave at you from high windows. The lead singers’ vocals are odd enough to make the song even more captivating – it sounds like he’s straining and singing from the back of his mouth. It sounds pained, nasal, yet it is pleasing to listen to.
It’s a feel good song and the lyrics are about *checks notes* indigenous Australian families being forced off their land and their children being stolen. Bit of tonal dissonance there…
And I think that’s why I wasn’t blown away by the album, I’m not engrossed in the Aussie culture so don’t get half of what they’re singing about. Midnight Oil are very much a political band, always have been. The lead singer even had a successful political career and ended up in the Australian government for two stints. They are passionate about highlighting the wrongs that the Australian people have committed against the Indigenous Australians.
The problem is when you remove that context, the album loses a punch and then the songs just blend together. The last half of the album is made up songs that all sounds the same; same tempo, same chords, same feel. The whole A-side is made up of songs obviously by the same band, and all have a similar feel, but are different enough to make each song clear and different. Dreamworld may be my favourite, it’s a little bit faster and the organ stings help the song lift above the rest.
This is not a bad album at all, and I don’t think the reason why I’m not totally in love with it and can’t understand why it’s the best aussie album of all time is my fault. I’m an ignorant Welsh guy and as such the message just isn’t clicking with me. I’ll do some reading about how terrible white people were/are to the Indigenous Australians and give it a second listen and it’ll probably make me immensely angry.
All in all, good album. A few tracks of it will probably go into my playlists. But this isn’t the weird music I wanted to start listening to when I started this stupid project. I’m still in my comfort zone. I need something weird.
And for that, tomorrow we’re off to Switzerland to meet a reverend…