Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Midnight Oil

  • 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 [Columbia, 1983] C+
  • Diesel and Dust [Columbia, 1987] B+
  • Blue Sky Mining [Columbia, 1990] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 [Columbia, 1983]
Figures that a major-label, major-management band expressly obsessed with nuclear holocaust and man's inhumanity to man should smell slightly progressive, which I do not use in the lefty sense. The multiplex structures, emphatic mix, and sardonically melodramatic vocals all add a pompous air to music that comes on as uptempo rock and roll. Message: everything would be quite all right if human beings weren't such stupid fools--and major power brokers have nothing to do with it. C+

Diesel and Dust [Columbia, 1987]
After not figuring out who Peter Garrett sounded like (sotto voce Roger Waters slightly, Peter Gabriel not at all, Peter Hammill not really, David Bowie what else is new), I decided his animadversions were in fact generic, and not in a bad way--he hectors like a crank politician would hector if the politician were a rock singer. Since this rock singer is in fact a crank politician, his authenticity requirement is thus satisfied. Nor is it a bad thing that his band is hooking it up these days. Garrett remains irritating even as you start singing along in spite of yourself, which is all anyone can ask of a crank. B+

Blue Sky Mining [Columbia, 1990] Dud