The picture that comes immediately to mind when I think of the Australian rock band Midnight Oil comes from the television. I can still picture the band on the stage at the Fox Theatre - the spastic rhythmic movements of the gawky bald vocalist, Peter Garrett, dominating the stage during the Blue Sky Mining tour, backed by the Hunters & Collector's horn section on the band's breakthrough hit "Beds Are Burning" - but I can't erase the other image from my memory.
In the aftermath of the wreck of the Exxon Valdez and its resulting environmental disaster, the Oils staged an impromptu protest concert on the streets of New York City, on a truck bed immediately outside of Exxon's corporate headquarters. The picture I have is of Garrett climbing the P.A. cabinets to stick his face into a t.v. camera as he rants some lyric about injustice and corporate irresponsibility. It's a face in pain, racked with disappointment, concern and rage.
That face at the heart of Midnight Oil has mixed these sentiments and a strange blend of apocalyptic gloom and hopeful humanism on its newest album, Earth and Sun and Moon. Garrett stands like a modern-day Ezekiel in the midst of a culture fascinated with pop music stardom to say that the day of reckoning for our planet is just around the corner. And if we don't respond, we'll have to admit resignation as they suggest in "Feeding Frenzy," that "God knows it's been fun."
Speaking by phone from the publicity offices at Columbia Records, Garrett laughs at my Old Testament reference, admitting some humor in response to the mantle of political correctness and spiritual righteousness that has fallen upon him. However, asked about the underlying spiritual themes in Oil's music he is clear and direct. Garrett warns that he can only speak for himself when he affirms, "I see myself operating out of traditional orthodox Judeo/Christian beliefs. I very much see my life as a walk of faith."
Recognizing that he is but one of five that shape...
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