Album Review: Midnight Oil "Scream in Blue Live"

Live albums are a bit of a contradiction. If you want to enjoy live music, go to a gig - or at least get a video! Listening to this and watching the wallpaper isn't much fun. Basically, most live albums are there just to help revive the fans flagging memories. This is even truer of Midnight Oil. The charismatic, larger-than-life, brow-beating presence of Peter Garrett, is reduced, on this album, to a mere voice. Unless you've seen the man and he made a lasting impression on you, you won't really be won over by these songs.


The Oilers have a cymbal-heavy, boppy-poppy, industrial sound which places you immediately in an Aussie mining camp somewhere in the Western Desert, which is where you don't want to be unless you've got a lorry-load of Fosters or Castlemaine XXXX. Sometimes the music even starts to boogie - like at the start of Powderworks, until the words come crashing in and impose their own monotonous rhythm - and sometimes it just gets turgid as it tries to keep up with the far-flung sentiments of St. Peter (Garrett)'s shiny dome. Dreamworld, a fey, hippy-ish melody that grows a hard jangly edge, and the expansive Beds Are Burning come out best.

We get songs about politics, pesticide and pollution, and very little about the humanity these things concern. Try writing a few songs about babes and pina coladas next time, Pete.


C.B.Liddell
Riff Raff
June, 1992

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