Diesel and Dust
|Diesel and Dust|
|Studio album by Midnight Oil|
|Recorded||1987 Albert Studios, Sydney, Australia|
|Label||Sprint / Columbia|
|Producer||Warne Livesey, Midnight Oil|
|Midnight Oil chronology|
Diesel and Dust is the sixth studio album by Australian rock group Midnight Oil which was released in August 1987 by Spirit Music label under Columbia Records. Diesel and Dust was produced by Warne Livesey and the band. It is a concept album about the struggles of Indigenous Australians and environmental causes, issues important to the band. It drew inspiration from the Blackfella/Whitefella Tour of remote Indigenous communities with the Warumpi Band and Gondwanaland in 1986. The album peaked at No. 1 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart for six weeks.
Midnight Oil spent several months in mid-1986 on the Blackfella/Whitefella Tour of outback Australia with indigenous music groups Warumpi Band and Gondwanaland, playing to remote Aboriginal communities and seeing first hand the seriousness of the issues in health and living standards. The tour was criticised by some journalists for being a one-off event instead of a long-term attempt to build bridges between communities. The band was galvanised by the experiences and made them the basis of their next album, Diesel and Dust, which was released in August 1987 and produced by Warne Livesey and the band. The album focused on the need for recognition by white Australia of past injustices involving the Aboriginal nation and the need for reconciliation. Peter Gifford left the band before the album's release due to extensive touring schedules, and was replaced on bass guitar by Bones Hillman, formerly of The Swingers. The track "Gunbarrel Highway" was not included on the United States version of the album, reportedly, because the line "shit falls like rain on a land that is brown" was deemed too offensive for US audiences.
Diesel and Dust peaked at No. 1 on the Australian albums charts for six weeks, No. 21 on the Billboard 200 charts in 1988, and No. 19 on the UK albums charts. "Beds Are Burning" was their biggest international hit single, peaking at No. 6 in Australia, and No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 6 on the UK singles charts. "The Dead Heart" peaked at No. 6 in Australia, and charted on the Hot 100 and in the UK. "Put Down that Weapon" also charted in Australia, while "Dreamworld" charted on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks and at No. 16 on its Modern Rock Tracks.
At the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) 1988 Awards ceremony, Midnight Oil won "Best Cover Artist" for Diesel and Dust and both "Best Single" and "Best Song" for "Beds Are Burning". A fracas developed between Gary Morris, their manager who was accepting awards for Midnight Oil, and former Countdown compere Ian Meldrum who was presenting: Meldrum objected to Morris making political commentary from the podium.
There were concerns about Diesel and Dust and Midnight Oil's attempts to express indigenous issues to white urban audiences - namely, the question "who holds the power to tell whose history?" The lyrics of "The Dead Heart" tell the story of colonisation from an indigenous point of view but some critics felt they reinforced the "primitive" stereotype. Use of the bullroarer was criticised as belonging to sacred rituals, and therefore not appropriate for rock songs. "The Dead Heart" had been written in response to a request by organisers of the 1985 ceremony to return control of Uluru to its indigenous caretakers; Midnight Oil had originally resisted adding an indigenous group to a concert bill, but the organisers insisted, arguing that the band would reach a wider audience within the predominantly Caucasian urban centres. Midnight Oil requested that all royalties from the song go to indigenous communities. In addition, two indigenous groups, Warumpi Band and Gondwanaland, toured with them.
Following the 1988 American tour in support of Diesel and Dust with Australian band Yothu Yindi, Midnight Oil launched the Burning Bridges album with various artists contributing, including Paul Kelly, Scrap Metal, Coloured Stone, Hunters & Collectors, James Reyne, The Saints, Crowded House, and INXS. All sales proceeds were donated to the National Coalition of Aboriginal Organisations.
During 1989 to 1993 and 1998 to 2002, Peter Garrett, the band's lead singer, was the President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, whilst during 1993 to 1998 he was on the International Board of Greenpeace. In 1990 Midnight Oil played an impromptu lunchtime set in front of Exxon headquarters in New York with a banner reading, "Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick," protesting the Exxon Valdez oil spill the previous year.
"Arctic World" was written by Jim Moginie and Peter Garrett and runs for 4 minutes, 21 seconds. The song is about mining and oil drilling in Greenland and Alaska, and was meant to bring attention to the harmful effects these activities have on the environment.
According to Australian rock music historian, Ian McFarlane, Diesel and Dust showed "Midnight Oil [had] reached the peak of its powers with the release of the groundbreaking ... album. ... [it] is arguably one of the greatest Australian albums of all time. Powerful, dynamic and passionate songs like 'Beds are Burning', 'Put Down that Weapon', 'Dreamworld', 'The Dead Heart' and 'Sell My Soul' were statements of intent and a call to action backed by the strength of their convictions".
|1.||"Beds Are Burning"||Garrett, Hirst, Moginie||4:14|
|2.||"Put Down That Weapon"||Garrett, Hirst, Moginie||4:38|
|3.||"Dreamworld"||Garrett, Hirst, Moginie||3:36|
|4.||"Arctic World"||Garrett, Moginie||4:21|
|6.||"The Dead Heart"||Garrett, Hirst, Moginie||5:10|
|8.||"Bullroarer"||Garrett, Hirst, Moginie||4:59|
|9.||"Sell My Soul"||Garrett, Moginie||3:35|
|10.||"Sometimes"||Garrett, Hirst, Moginie||3:53|
|11.||"Gunbarrel Highway^"||Garrett, Gifford, Hirst, Moginie, Rotsey||3:38|
^CD release only. Not present on the original vinyl pressings or original USA CD release.
- Peter Garrett – vocals
- Peter Gifford – bass, vocals
- Robert Hirst – drums, vocals
- Jim Moginie – guitars, keyboards
- Martin Rotsey – guitars
- "Holden wrecks" ("Beds Are Burning") refers to the GMH Holden, the Australian make of car.
- Warakurna is a small town in Western Australia, close to the Northern Territory border, which the band visited on their Black Fella White Fella tour.
- "In Redfern as there is in Alice" ("Warakurna") refers to Redfern, an area in Sydney, and to Alice Springs, principal town in the centre of Australia.
- "Lasseter" ("Warakurna") was a gold-seeking con man (died 1931) after whom the Northern Territory highway to Ayers Rock is named.
- The "dead heart" is a traditional way of referring to the underpopulated desert centre of Australia, a continent which is largely desert with most of the people distributed along the coasts.
- A bullroarer is a traditional Aboriginal musical instrument which produces a whirring sound.
|1987||Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart||1|
|Australia (ARIA)||7× Platinum||490,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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