Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] here's another again...apologies

pete mellor pete_mellor@hotmail.com
Sat, 18 Jan 2003 16:18:19 +0000

It would appear the review of PWAP I sent earlier did not come through so 
here it is again.

This review was from:


not sure about it's reliability as a good review source, but on the basis of 
this I will accept they are on e of the few people who know what they are 
talking about these days.

Regarding the Breathe review: I shall re-trace my steps to find out where it 
came from.


Midnight Oil : Place Without A Postcard (1990)

Reviewed by Tom Blaxland

Many listeners think of Midnight Oil as the nice acoustic guitar playing act 
with a bald lead singer. But these guys are loud. Midnight Oil were tearing 
the roof off venues back when the members of Nirvana were still in primary 
school. In their early days, the Oils, as they are affectionately known, 
were so tough and so in your face that their equipment had to be nailed 
directly into the floor. With six and a half foot tall surfer and lawyer 
Peter Garrett fronting the group, they were and are an assaulting presence 
on any stage. As their road manager Michael Lippold described, they can be 
as “subtle as a brick in the head dropped from 50 feet.”

The brutal force of Midnight Oil is very apparent on their early albums. 
Though on their third full length record Place Without A Postcard, this 
aggression was matched with a new appreciation for how to use such energy in 
a more carefully arranged musical context. The basis of this new found 
strength was the gelling of teamwork between the bands two great guitarists. 
Martin Rotsey’s angular dissonant soloing style and Jim Moginie’s tendency 
for a more structured rhythm approach had always been complimentary. But 
with this album their playing grew amazingly synchronized, forever after 
feeding off the others playing; they read each others minds as well as each 
others instincts. Together they are possibly the most creative and 
definitely the most under-appreciated guitar duo in the history of Rock. 
Never ones to show off their skills, this couple learnt early how to serve 
songs like “Brave Faces” with simple and precise, yet highly original, riffs 
and chords that needed two players to complete.

A good example of their playing is displayed on the tune “Basement Flat” 
where the lyrics describe the desperation of poor living conditions. With 
open dueling distortion the verse rocks. “Must be time for a better place/ 
My sink leaks and the rats have won the race,” Garrett exclaims. The 
guitarists then turn the chorus into a strum-fest that would sit proudly on 
a Lemonheads album before dropping into a tricky quiet solo passage. With 
the help of powerful drummer Rob Hirst, they build up the track to its 
rebellious conclusion, “What can I do/ There must be some solution.”

Another fine example of Moginie and Rotsey’s newly found skill can be heard 
on “Quinella Holiday.” While the lyrics examine the hope that comes with 
gambling, the guitars use the driving backbone of Hirst and bassist Peter 
Gifford to alternate between exacting pizzicato lines and long chords 
building up the main melody. “Another long week/ Lady luck makes it plain/ 
His dreams and his hopes are dashed in vain.”

One of the most beautiful songs on the album and indeed in their whole 
collection is “Burnie” which also appears re-recorded as a secret track on 
the “Scream in Blue” live album. In the lyrics, Garrett displays his love of 
surfing and the ocean. “This is my home/ This is my sea/ Don’t paint it with 
the future/ Of factories,” he pines. “Tide forever beckons you to leave/ 
Something holds you back/ It’s not the promise of a swell or a girl/ Just a 
hope that someday someway it’ll be Ok,” again the guitars growing when 

Place Without A Postcard displays a band truly finding it’s identity. With 
great playing and great songs, this album created a blueprint for the 
international success that came to the band years later with “Diesel And 
Dust.” While that album is softer and more acoustically driven, they both 
contain a sensibility of how a band should operate and how to make fine 
guitar based music.
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