MIDNIGHT OIL 1976-2002


Don’t Wanna Be The One (P Garrett/R Hirst/J Moginie/ M Rotsey) and Armistice Day (R Hirst/ J Moginie/M Rotsey) – Midnight Oil 1981

In 1981 the band were looking to record a new album that would have international appeal and they met with Brit Glynis Johns (Stones, Who, Small faces, Eagles), a vastly experienced producer who operated from his farm and studio complex in Sussex (UK). Upon arrival in the UK the band played several gigs at the legendary Marquee Club in London and then proceeded to the recording sessions for what would become their third studio album Place Without a Postcode.oils19The band’s relationship with Johns (below) was troubled, and fractious, while the band members knew what they wanted to achieve in terms of a sound, they were equally ignorant of the production techniques necessary to achieve the desired outcome. They were also incapable of articulating their expectations to Johns, who may have decided to go his own way anyhow, and given his superior skills and experience, he controlled the overall recording process and ultimately the quality and ambience of the album.oils35Ultimately A&M Records rejected the album, claiming that there was not a standout single that could be released in the US, and that too many of the tracks, Armistice Day, Burnie, If Ned Kelly Was King, spoke exclusively about the Australian experience and would be unfamiliar to an international audience. The band refused to re-record the album nor create any new songs for the US market and effectively ended their relationship with Johns and A&M Records at that time.

oils20Released in Australia the album climbed to #12 and charted for 31 weeks, it was the most successful Oils album to date, the anti-capitalism/materialism single Don’t Wanna Be The One featured a driving, propulsive rhythm section, strong controlled keyboards, and visceral vocals from Garrett “ I’m an innocent man/ I’m just like you/ We end up in home units with a brick wall view/I can’t believe the perfect families on my colour TV/ If I don’t make it to the top it’ll never bother me…” all captured in an incendiary live performance at Wanda Beach (Syd) in 1982.

Armistice Day was one of the Oils slower tracks, with an almost drone-like quality from the bass guitar in the intro, a powerful anti-war song which Peter Garrett sang with his usual mix of conviction and sardonic irony “ You’re watching people fighting/ You’re watching people losing/ On Armistice Day/ The watchers do the wincing, reporters so convincing/ But the TV never lies…”. The band’s songs were now increasingly reflecting their political agenda –  aboriginal rights, commercial despoilation of the coastline by developers, Americanization of Australian culture, and environmental issues would be the themes unrelentingly pursued by the band on their Stop The Concrete Finger Tour in 1981.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s