Midnight Oil

Redneck Wonderland

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For this, its 12th full-length album, Midnight Oil re-hired producer Warne Livesey, who had worked with them on their biggest international successes, Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining. He helped them to achieve a sound that was a virtual compendium of familiar late-'60s rock styles -- Led Zeppelin on the title track, the Beatles on "Safety Chain Blues," the Who on "Blot," the Beach Boys on "Drop in the Ocean." At least, that was true musically; the vocals were sometimes so compressed they sounded like they were coming out of a bullhorn. Given the lyrics, that was appropriate, since the album was, as the band's press bio put it, "written and recorded in response to the rise of anti-Asia MP Pauline Hanson and her far-right One Nation Party." Outside of Australia, that could make the songs difficult to understand completely, although, for example, the environmentalist sense of "Concrete" and "Seeing Is Believing" were unmistakable, and the group's anger fueled its performances. Still, lines like "triumphalism gotta be a curse or even worse" probably sent more fans to the dictionary than the barricades. In Australia, the album went Top Ten, though it failed to chart in the U.S., which is less an indication of its local focus than of the group and/or its record company's diminished interest in the international market.

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