Essential Oils

Midnight Oil

The aptly named Essential Oils is a double CD compilation that pretty much spans the entire career of Australia's Midnight Oil - beginning with tracks from their 1978 self-titled release, followed by more from the subsequent 10 albums and two EPs. The kinetic high-end bass, and a two-guitar kinetic punk-like sensibility of "Run By Night" is the only song on this 36-song collection from the band's first album. "Cold Cold Change" shows how Midnight Oil were a band who could stir up intricate arrangements well before singer Peter Garrett came in with his unique vocals.

A nice, summery sounding "Wedding Cake Island" features great acoustic and Dick Dale-like electric wavy sounds from guitarists Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey, respectively. This is a mesmerizing instrumental, recorded in 1975 but released on the band's 1980 EP Bird Noises. Garrett fronts one of the band's more commercial punk songs, munching on the important lyric of "No Times For Games" from the same EP.

"Armistice Day," from Place Without A Postcard, sees the full band, from drummer Rob Hirst to the low growly bass of Andrew James, brandishing a full assault behind the double guitars and an aggressive backing vocal completing one of the best tunes on this first CD. We then again get Hirst at the fore on "Only The Strong." another one with that aggressive, punk feel and the guitars really rocking out of the box. "Read About It" is an acoustic guitar and drum led bopper; "US Forces" features acoustic too with Garrett wailing in a stop-and-go stomp; "Read", "US" "Strong" and songs "Power and the Passion." plus "Short Memory." are all here from 1982's 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

The second disc features remastered versions of such notable tunes as "Beds Are Burning," "Warakuma," "One Country" and "Blue Sky Mine." I love the high-tone bass drive of "Say Your Prayers." The drums, spoken, distorted vocals and a nasty guitar on the spectacular "White Skin Black Heart" from Redneck Wonderland. Then there's Luritja Way," a drum/acoustic guitar lamentation, and the guitar jangle with an almost 60s vibe on "Golden Age" from Capricornia, the band's last studio album from 2002. Listen to Essential Oils and your ears, as well as your skin, will be left nice and soft and well massaged with a great full spin of Midnight Oil.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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