Blue Sky Mining
Album Reviews
Blue Sky Mining

Reviewed in Q Magazine

"As if untouched by the international success of their last album, Diesel And Dust ('87), and its attendant smash single Beds Are Burning, Blue Sky Mining is essence of Oil: great beat group sounds and campaigns a go-go. Inevitably, it's the former that seals their appeal - partly because you can think they're wonderful without paying attention to any lyric beyond an addictive chorus, and partly because, even if you ruminate on every word, as an alien Pom you may still be at a loss, foxed by the welter of Aussie local references. Unless you get the Sydney morning papers mailed over, this album will leave your brow furrowed by such enigmas as, what is Warburton, is the Blue Sky Mine real or fictional, and who the hell is Henry Lawson anyway? Not knowing, you can't even tell whether your ignorance is important. Such frustrations aside, though, the Oil deliver political commitment in palatable form.

Spiritually close to the '60s and fostered (so to speak) by years on their homeland's coastal pub circuit, they jangle and twang guitars, fill with old-fashioned keyboard sounds, and sing raw, inspired harmonies as if they'd never given the time of day to anything since The Beatles, The Byrds and, maybe, The Easybeats (of Friday On My Mind fame). In Beds Are Burning vein, a sense of mission and an ear for the anthemic combine readily to make "Forgotten Years" and "Bedlam Bridge" potential hits. But then practically every track could do the job. They are wonderfully fluent, straight pop melodists with the naive shag-happy energy of traditional pop music replaced by fired-up fury about pollution, corruption and so on. Occasionally, they do stray into hectoring - to sing, in "River Runs Red," "So you've cut all the tall trees down/You've poisoned the skies and the sea", only invites the reply, "Not me, mate!" And they do attempt the odd big statement - One Country urges Oz unity with a chant which takes in "One passion, one people, one land mass, one ocean, one sea bed". But then, for the most part, their pure beat group prowess suppresses such objections. Considering their determined seriousness, Midnight Oil are a strangely engaging lot; sometimes naff but never false.

Reviewer: Phil Sutcliffe