Aussie rockers Midnight Oil dusting off old albums

Fri May 2, 2008 3:41pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If there's a silver lining when a rock band breaks up, maybe it's that the members have more time to contemplate reissue projects.

This is the case with Midnight Oil, the politically inspired Australian rock band that enjoyed an unlikely international hit 20 years ago with a concept album about Aboriginal rights.

The band's 25-year run ended after imposing vocalist Peter Garrett announced in 2002 that he was quitting to pursue a career in politics. The surfing skinhead is now a member of Australia's new center-left federal government.

His comrades kept busy with various musical endeavors, but now guitarist Jim Moginie is leading an ambitious reissue project, beginning with the aforementioned album, 1987's "Diesel and Dust." The disc, which features the hit single "Beds Are Burning," has been remastered, and a bonus track called "Gunbarrel Highway" appended.

The band also has included a DVD documentary of its 1986 tour of the harsh Australian outback. The trek, during which the musicians viewed first-hand the abysmal poverty of Australia's Aboriginal people, as well as their cultural achievements, inspired the tunes on "Diesel and Dust."

"When you think about us singing about dispossessed indigenous people, you wouldn't think that would be a record that anyone would want to hear," Moginie, 51, told Reuters in a recent interview. "But it turned out that they did. There's hope for the world yet."

The album, the band's sixth release, went to No. 1 in many countries, and peaked at No. 21 in the United States. "Beds Are Burning," which receives U.S. radio airplay to this day, hit No. 17 on the pop chart.


<p>The Australian rock band Midnight Oil pose in this publicity photo for their 1987 album "Diesel and Dust" and released to Reuters May 2, 2008. Guitarist Jim Moginie is leading an ambitious reissue project, beginning with the aforementioned album. REUTERS/Sony BMG Entertainment Music Archives/Handout</p>