12 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Midnight Oil reunited with Nick Launay for 1984’s Red Sails in the Sunset. It's a quirkier, more brittle album than its predecessor, but no less biting. “When the Generals Talk” is a venomous attack on the military, the government, and the wealthy—but even in its ghostly passages, it keeps the whip-cracking rhythm of a great funk tune. The same can be said for “Best of Both Worlds” and “Helps Me Helps You,” the latter of which qualifies as a futuristic update on a wild rockabilly dance. Few bands were better at illustrating the latent fears of the '80s. “Who Can Stand in the Way” and “Harrisburg” are just two depictions of environmental destruction, a theme that would become one of the band’s signatures. Musically, the album is largely split between moods. “Sleep,” “Jimmy Sharman’s Boxers," and “Harrisburg” are slow and abstract. To listen to them is to walk through a beautifully forlorn fever dream. On the other hand, it’s hard not to argue that the Oils were strongest when delivering old-fashioned rock music with grit and insistence. “Kosciusko” is one of these defining songs, a '50s-style romp retrofitted with nitroglycerin.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Midnight Oil reunited with Nick Launay for 1984’s Red Sails in the Sunset. It's a quirkier, more brittle album than its predecessor, but no less biting. “When the Generals Talk” is a venomous attack on the military, the government, and the wealthy—but even in its ghostly passages, it keeps the whip-cracking rhythm of a great funk tune. The same can be said for “Best of Both Worlds” and “Helps Me Helps You,” the latter of which qualifies as a futuristic update on a wild rockabilly dance. Few bands were better at illustrating the latent fears of the '80s. “Who Can Stand in the Way” and “Harrisburg” are just two depictions of environmental destruction, a theme that would become one of the band’s signatures. Musically, the album is largely split between moods. “Sleep,” “Jimmy Sharman’s Boxers," and “Harrisburg” are slow and abstract. To listen to them is to walk through a beautifully forlorn fever dream. On the other hand, it’s hard not to argue that the Oils were strongest when delivering old-fashioned rock music with grit and insistence. “Kosciusko” is one of these defining songs, a '50s-style romp retrofitted with nitroglycerin.

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