Diesel and Dust is a 1987 album by Australian rock group Midnight Oil. Of the Oils' numerous albums, Diesel and Dust is the most well known in the United States, primarily by virtue of the single Beds are Burning, which received significant radio and MTV attention following the album's U.S. release. It is generally considered the most 'pop' Midnight Oil album.

However, true to their commitment to ecology and social justice, Diesel and Dust is an album with a message. Most of the album is centered on the issue of Land Rights, the Australian controversy surrounding the rights (or lack thereof) of Australian aborigines to their traditional lands in Australia (which would be approximately all of it). Midnight Oil is, as one might expect, in favor of reparations being paid to the aborigines, and of a larger role for aboriginal tribes in deciding land use issues.

With this in mind, many of the lyrics on this album stand out clearly as political statements, particularly in the tracks Beds are Burning ("it belongs to them, lets give it back"), Warakurna ("This is the Crown Land, this is not our land"). While political/protest albums are notorious for being clumsy, unwieldy affairs ("Dude, what rhymes with 'full and immediate repatriation'?"), Diesel and Dust comes across as a listenable and likeable album without too much regard for the underlying politics. Certainly the numerous Americans who danced along to Beds are Burning without knowing a thing about aborigines would seem to think so. At the same time, Diesel and Dust manages to keep the political messge in the foreground- at least, if you know to listen for it.

While Beds are Burning is the best known track from the album, others singles included the energetic Dreamworld, and The Dead Heart. Other standout tracks include Sell my Soul and Bullroarer. The weakest song, in my own opinion, is Put Down That Weapon, which comes the closest to falling into the stereotype of the clumsy protest song. Of course, it's some folks favorite on the entire album. No accounting for taste.

One track, Gunbarrel Highway, was included in the Australian version of the CD, but not the American release. Rumor indicates that Columbia U.S. was uncomfortable putting a track with the word 'shit' on an album by a 'nice guy' rock group (and standards for lyrics at that time were generally more conservative).

Album Information

Being one of those who feel that "Put Down that Weapon" is a work of brilliance, i felt a little compelled to throw in my rant here:

While "Put Down that Weapon" may not come off brilliantly lyrically, as a piece of music it works well, it just all goes together. And the lyrics aren't that clumsy. They're definitely better than say, anything by Blink 182. Plus they don't care whether it rhymes. Really good music never rhymes properly.

Oh, an my final reason for liking this song: It's a Jim Moginie/Rob Hirst (oh yeah, and Peter Garrett. He's probably behind the lyrics) composition. When these guys work together, they can't help but turn out brilliant music.

Midnight Oil: Nice Guys? No chance, these guys aren't nice guys, and the loss of Gunbarrel Highway must have stung. Its a brilliant song that captures another part of the Australian essence, and leaving it out on the basis of the line "shit falls like rain/on a world that is brown" is hardly fair. Its all part of the message.

It is intersting to note that the a new bassist had to be found very quickly upon Giffo's retirement, just after finishing recording "Diesel and Dust", as they had a big US Tour. So Bone's Hillman got brought in fast, and he shot to the top along with midnight oil, riding on a wave of diesel (is what we breathe).

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