Ian McFarlane's Encyclopedia of Australian Rock And Pop references Diesel And Dust as groundbreaking and one of the greatest Australian albums of all time. I dare anyone to challenge that claim as Diesel And Dust is the quintessential album Midnight Oil should be remembered for.
John O'Donnell, Toby Creswell, and Craig Mathieson also thought so highly of Diesel And Dust that it was awarded the No.1 Australian album in their book, The 100 Best Australian Albums. O'Donnell, Creswell, and Mathieson go on to say: in the process of reinventing themselves, Midnight Oil has crafted an album of brilliant, passionate, and intelligent songs that carry a message.
Truthfully, any additional commentary I add in this review would be seemingly superfluous. That said, join me on my own subjective journey of Diesel And Dust.
Beds Are Burning is incredible! I have always adored this song and find that when I want to listen to Midnight Oil, this is the song that comes to mind. The lyrical delivery is clear, unlike some of their earlier albums, and that beat and musicality are simply unmatched. It is as good as Australian rock and roll gets.
Put Down That Weapon is anthemic. It’s sonically gorgeous!
Dreamworld is a song I've always had mixed feelings about. I simply find it to be another Midnight Oil song that is on the shrill end of the spectrum. Although, it is a bloody good song. It is just disappointing that, in contrast to the previous tracks, I find it too jarring.
Arctic World slows the album down considerably, but sonically I love the musicality and it is a song that showcases Peter Garrett's vocal capabilities. While it isn't my favourite song on the album, it is perfectly suited to the themes and style of Diesel And Dust.
Warakurna flows beautifully from Arctic world with rhythmic perfection. It is one of my all-time favourite Midnight Oil songs.
The Dead Heart is another exceptional song that I have always enjoyed. Seriously, Diesel And Dust plays like a greatest hits album. It really is that good! Part of the appeal is the catchy, sing-a-long style of the songs. While some may point, rightly so, to the message portrayed in these songs, long time readers would note that lyrical meaning is often lost on me. While that isn't the case with Midnight Oil, I strongly believe their music can be appreciated without specific background knowledge or political loyalties. This is music for everybody; similar in that regard to the recordings of Yothu Yindi.
Whoah is sonically beautiful. Close your eyes, relax, and enjoy.
Bullroarer picks up the pace with a hard hitting rock song that mergers their punk roots with their new rock style. You will want to turn this song up to 11. I love it! The chorus is amongst the best ever written and recorded.
Don't touch that volume knob as Sell My Soul is one killer song.
Sometimes is a song that I find to be tedious, that is until the chorus kicks in for the first time. After that, the song blows me away.
Gunbarrel Highway interestingly wasn't included on vinyl and cassette releases of the album. It was only sporadically included on CD as some regions had it while others were excluded. This process was and still is, rather common. It sends us music collectors slowly insane as we try to get hold of the various editions. Thankfully, it is far easier now, than it was in 1987, thanks to the Internet, streaming services, and the continuous stream of re-issues. I raise this point because one must ask if Gunbarrel Highway is the best song to conclude Diesel And Dust on. Subjectively, I believe it is, it encourages me to listen to the album again.
I truly don't believe there is a word in the English language that can fully describe the brilliance of Diesel And Dust. Therefore, all I will say in conclusion is that you must listen to this album.
For this review, I listened to the 2007 remaster on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Sonically, that remaster is a pleasure to listen to. Despite Red Sails In The Sunset being a remastering nightmare, Diesel And Dust has not only been recorded beautifully, but it has been remastered, in this instance, with kid gloves.