As I’m currently reviewing Midnight Oil's catalogue in chronological order, some of you may wonder why 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 has been overlooked. The good news is, I reviewed 10 to 1 in 2015 and you can read that review here. The subjective opinions expressed in that review remain relevant.
I should also add that the Midnight Oil box sets have arrived in record stores. I had a chance to look at the Full Tank CD collection, it’s rather impressive. It is certainly a unique collectable that will have fans drooling. I didn’t, however, get a chance to see the vinyl box set and I still think I would prefer that edition. Yes, dear reader, I have yet to place my order, but it is on my to-do list. Although, I will have to wait for the second pressing as the first pressings have already sold out. Some retailers may still have stock. However, it may be best to wait as there has been a pressing error on the first batch of releases, Stars Of Warburton appears twice on Side A of Blue Sky Mining. Please see the announcement for more information. Perhaps this is why the set is appearing to be sold out. I guess if you really want an edition with the error, you better go crate digging ASAP. Either way, it also gives me time to check out some reviews and see what other fans think, before placing the final order. Perhaps I am procrastinating too much, but either option isn’t cheap, so this music loving fan must ensure it is worth the investment.
Red Sails In The Sunset has a particularly disturbing cover of my hometown being destroyed in nuclear warfare that resembles the desolate craters on Mars. That said, I do appreciate the art style. I just hope, as I'm sure many Sydneysiders do, that our beautiful city is never exposed to such devastation.
Midnight Oil hit a home run with Red Sails In The Sunset as it would be their first album to reach No.1 in Australia and would go on to be certified 4x Platinum. Interestingly, the album would only produce two singles, When The Generals Talk and Best Of Both Worlds. I mention this because success in 1984 was still determined largely by successful charting of numerous singles and associated music videos.
When The Generals Talk is an incredible rock song that is immediately addictive. The various vocal techniques build character and you will be singing along to the chorus in no time. The song is reminiscent of the 80’s sound, but I don't feel it is dated to that period. It is, without a doubt, one of their best songs.
Best Of Both Worlds is a song that I have a love/hate relationship with. I detest the introduction and shrill musicality that accompanies it. However, once the song gets going, I actually don't mind it. It seems to be a trend that I generally dislike many fan favourites. I can assure you, it is not intentional.
Sleep is an incredible song with an acoustic introduction that I adore. It is a slower composition than we generally expect from Midnight Oil, yet it is perfectly suited to their style of music. The backing vocals and musicality heard on When The Generals Talk is applicable here and I would have preferred Sleep to be the second track on the album. Regardless, it is a must listen and should be on every compilation they release.
Minutes To Midnight is a little too disjointed for my liking. I simply feel the song never truly arrives and it sounds like a studio demo. Despite that, I still hear promise amongst the chaos. I’m not always a fan of remixes, but a remix of this song would likely yield fantastic results.
Jimmy Sharman's Boxers is an incredible sonic composition. I love it!
Bakerman is a fun instrumental interlude.
Who Can Stand In The Way is a song I neither like or dislike. As I listen to this song, my mind becomes lost as there is more than one rhythm present in the track. Such confusion, unfortunately, prevents a pleasurable listening experience.
Kosciusko thankfully returns the rhythm to the pleasure centre of the brain. This is a song I have always enjoyed, yet I feel from a musical perspective that it is a little too shrill, but it is my hope that the vinyl limitations, with the new re-issues, will correct this problem. That said, to change the tonality of the song, one would also destroy the composition. Any shift represents an extremely fine line to walk and this is arguably a key reason why I believe that tone and bass controls, along with manual equalisers, are still essential.
Helps Me Helps You is another scattered song that I simply don't connect with. Although, I do love the didgeridoo at the beginning of the song.
Harrisburg slows the pace of the album, but it offers no competition to Sleep as Harrisburg is rather erratic in places. It is very experimental, but the results are less than favourable. Remove the sonic experimentation and what remains is a solid B-side.
Bells And Horns In The Back Of Beyond is a solid B-side but is nothing to write home about. Although, I truly enjoy the instrumental aspects of this song.
Shipyards Of New Zealand is not a bad song, but it follows a number of disjointed experimental compositions that has resulted in a mediocre album, with some absolutely exceptional moments. Unfortunately, as a final song on the album, it doesn't compel me to listen to the album again or stay within the Midnight Oil catalogue.
I also listened to the 2008 remaster on TIDAL Hi-Fi, but it was too loud, and subsequently too shrill, to adequately enjoy. I literally had to turn my stereo down by 5-10% and that sadly didn't help the sonic destruction that had occurred in this remaster.
Interestingly, I had to turn the 1988 edition up by 10%. It reminded me of vinyl in that respect, but most importantly, I was in charge of the loudness being reproduced. Subsequently, there was no disintegration of sound or brickwalling when listening to this digital master.