Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil was an Australian rock band that released two 1978–79 albums on Powderworks, followed by five albums between 1981 and 1990 on CBS. Their 1982 fourth album 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 marked their debut in the Northern hemisphere, where they broke with the 1984–87 albums Red Sails in the Sunset and Diesel and Dust and the hit “Beds Are Burning.”

Members: Jim Moginie (guitar, keyboards), Rob Hirst (drums), Andrew “Bear” James (bass, 1972-80), Peter Garrett (vocals, 1975-2002), Martin Rotsey (guitar, 1976-2002), Peter “Giffo” Gifford (bass, 1980-87), Bones Hillman [Wayne Stevens] (bass, 1987-2002)


Midnight Oil evolved from the power-trio Farm, formed in 1972 by Sydney teenagers Rob Hirst (drums), Andrew James (bass), and Jim Moginie (guitar, keyboards). In 1973, they hired singer Peter Garrett (b. 1953), then enrolled at the Australian National University in Canberra. They gigged part-time for the East Coast surf community with a set comprised of Cream and Led Zeppelin covers.

In 1976, while Garrett studied law at the University of New South Wales, the band went professional under a new name, Midnight Oil, inspired by the Jimi Hendrix song “Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” itself inspired by the idiom “burn the midnight oil” (to read, work, or study late into the night, typically with a deadline or test the next day). The following year, they added guitarist Martin Rotsey and signed to Powderworks.

Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil released their self-titled debut album in November 1978 on Powderworks.

Guitarist–keyboardist Jim Moginie wrote the epic album-closer “Nothing Lost – Nothing Gained” and co-wrote “Used and Abused” with drummer Rob Hirst. Together, they wrote songs with additional input by guitarist Martin Rotsey (“Head Over Heels,” “Run By Night”) and bassist Andrew James, the fourth writer on “Powderworks.”

Singer Peter Garrett penned lyrics to Hirst–Moginie’s “Dust” and the group-written anthem “Surfing with a Spoon.”

1. “Powderworks” (5:35)
2. “Head Over Heels” (4:08)
3. “Dust” (3:21)
4. “Used and Abused” (3:13)

5. “Surfing with a Spoon” (5:23)
6. “Run by Night” (3:59)
7. “Nothing Lost – Nothing Gained” (8:31)

Sessions took place in June 1978 at Sydney’s Albert Studios on King Street, where 2JJ radio personality Keith Walker produced and engineered Midnight Oil in sequence with the debut Cold Chisel EP You’re Thirteen, You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine.

Design – Jan Paul, Midnight Oil (sleeve & cover)
Photography – Kathleen O’Brien, Kevin Fewster; Jan Paul (back cover)

Midnight Oil lifted “Run by Night” (b/w “Dust”) as their first single, accompanied with a studio-performance video.

Head Injuries

Midnight Oil released their second album, Head Injuries, in October 1979 on Powderworks.

Drummer Rob Hirst and guitarist–keyboardist Jim Moginie co-wrote the opener “Cold Cold Change” and collaborated with guitarist Martin Rotsey on “Naked Flame,” “No Reaction,” and “Profiteers.”

The trio wrote two songs (“Section 5 (Bus to Bondi),” “Stand in Line”) with words by singer Peter Garrett, who also lyricized tunes by Moginie (“Is It Now?”), Hirst (“Back on the Borderline,” the only co-write by bassist Andrew James), and the epic Side One closer “Koala Sprint,” a Moginie–Rotsey composition.

1. “Cold Cold Change” (3:29)
2. “Section 5 (Bus to Bondi)” (3:04)
3. “Naked Flame” (3:27)
4. “Back on the Borderline” (3:09)
5. “Koala Sprint” (5:12)

6. “No Reaction” (2:59)
7. “Stand in Line” (4:48)
8. “Profiteers” (3:46)
9. “Is It Now?” (4:20)

Sessions took place in July–August 1979 at Sydney’s Trafalgar Studios, where Head Injuries became the first full-length production credit for Leszek J. Karski, the former guitarist for the Liverpool R&B octet Supercharge and a recent participant in the Vanda–Young studio project Flash and the Pan. Local soundman Peter J. Walker engineered Head Injuries in sequence with 1978–79 Aussie albums by Air Supply, Cold Chisel, and Skyhooks.

Midnight Oil lifted “Cold Cold Change” as their second single, backed with the prior album’s “Used and Abused.” In February 1979, they released “Back on the Borderline” as the second Head Injuries single (b/w “Section 5 (Bus to Bondi)”).

After Head Injuries, a road-weary James cleared out for bassist Peter Gifford. The lineup of Garrett, Moginie, Rotsey, Hirst, and Gifford lasted ten years and created two EPs and four studio albums.

Bird Noises

On November 24, 1980, Midnight Oil released Bird Noises, a four-song extended-play single on Powderworks. It features one song (“I’m the Cure”) lone-written by guitarist–keyboardist Jim Moginie, who co-wrote one song with drummer Rob Hirst (“No Time for Games”) and two with guitarist Martin Rotsey: “Wedding Cake Island” and “Knife’s Edge,” the latter with lyrics by singer–harpist Peter Garrett. Hirst provides vocal backing along with new bassist Peter Gifford.

1. “No Time for Games” (4:34)
2. “Knife’s Edge” (3:39)
3. “Wedding Cake Island” (3:16)
4. “I’m the Cure” (3:48)

Recorded 21–22 July 1980
Studio Music Farm (Byron Bay)

Producer – Leszek Karski (for Instant Relief)
Engineer – Ross Cockle
Mixer – Leszek Karski
Studio – Music Farm Studios, Byron Bay; mixed at Studios 301, Sydney

Place Without a Postcard

Midnight Oil released their third album, Place Without a Postcard, in November 1981 on CBS.

Singer Peter Garrett wrote the lyrics to all but two songs: “Armistice Day” and “Written in the Heart,” both joint-written between drummer Rob Hirst and guitarists Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey. The three joint-composed the lead single “Don’t Wanna Be the One” and the album-closer “Lucky Country.”

Postcard contains four-songs (“Brave Faces,” “Burnie,” “Quinella Holiday,” “If Ned Kelly Was King”) with music by Moginie, who co-composed “Someone Else to Blame” with Hirst and “Basement Flat” with Rotsey, who lone-composed “Loves on Sale.”

1. “Don’t Wanna Be the One” (3:04)
2. “Brave Faces” (4:48)
3. “Armistice Day” (4:31)
4. “Someone Else to Blame” (2:49)
5. “Basement Flat” (4:37)

6. “Written in the Heart” (3:15)
7. “Burnie” (4:50)
8. “Quinella Holiday“(2:35)
9. “Loves on Sale” (2:22)
10. “If Ned Kelly Was King” (3:41)
11. “Lucky Country” (4:55)

Midnight Oil recorded the album in June–July 1981 at Turn Up-Down Studios, a converted barn in Surrey,  England, owned by studio veteran Glyn Johns, a soundman on The Easybeats global breakthrough hit “Friday On My Mind” and seventies titles by The Eagles, Faces, Joan Armatrading, and The Who. Johns produced and engineered Place Without a Postcard amid titles by Chris De Burgh, Nine Below Zero, and ex-Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland.

Robert Butcher – design, album cover photo

In October, Midnight Oil released “Don’t Wanna Be the One” as the advance single (b/w “Written in the Heart”). Six months after the album’s release in May 1982, “Armistice Day” reappeared as the second single; backed with a live version of the Head Injuries track “Stand in Line.”

Place Without a Postcard reached No. 12 on the Australian Kent Music Report.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Midnight Oil released their fourth album, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, in November 1982 on Columbia.

1. “Outside World” Moginie (4:24)
2. “Only the Strong” Hirst, Moginie (4:31)
3. “Short Memory” Garrett, Hirst, Moginie (3:52)
4. “Read About It” Garrett, Hirst, Moginie (3:52)
5. “Scream in Blue” Garrett, Moginie, Rotsey (6:22)

6. “US Forces” Garrett, Moginie (4:06)
7. “Power and the Passion” Garrett, Hirst, Moginie (5:39)
8. “Maralinga” Garrett, Moginie (4:44)
9. “Tin Legs and Tin Mines” Garrett, Moginie, Rotsey (4:28)
10. “Somebody’s Trying to Tell Me Something” Garrett, Gifford, Hirst, Moginie, Rotsey (3:58)

Recorded September 1982
Studio Townhouse (London)
Producer Nick Launay & Midnight Oil

Peter Garrett – lead vocals
Peter Gifford – bass, vocals
Rob Hirst – drums, vocals
Jim Moginie – guitars, keyboards
Martin Rotsey – guitars

Additional personnel
Gary Barnacle, Peter Thoms & Luke Tunney – brass (on “Power and the Passion”)

“US Forces” / “Outside World” (Instrumental)
Released: November 1982

“Power and the Passion” / Dub Version
Released: March 1983

In New Zealand
“Read About It” / “Short Memory” promo-only
Released: 1983

Australian Kent Music Report 3
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 5

Red Sails in the Sunset

Midnight Oil released their fifth album, Red Sails in the Sunset, in October 1984 on Columbia.

1. “When the Generals Talk” Garrett, Hirst, Moginie (3:32)
2. “Best of Both Worlds” Hirst, Moginie (4:05)
3. “Sleep” Garrett, Hirst, Moginie (5:09)
4. “Minutes to Midnight” Garrett, Moginie (3:20)
5. “Jimmy Sharman’s Boxers” Hirst, Moginie (7:10)
6. “Bakerman” Hirst (0:52)

7. “Who Can Stand in the Way” Garrett, Moginie (4:33)
8. “Kosciusko” Hirst, Moginie (4:47)
9. “Helps Me Helps You” Hirst, Moginie (3:44)
10. “Harrisburg” Moginie, Denis Kevans (3:46)
11. “Bells and Horns in the Back of Beyond” Garrett, Gifford, Hirst, Moginie, Rotsey (3:30)
12. “Shipyards of New Zealand” Garrett, Moginie (5:53)

Recorded June–August 1984
Studio Victor Aoyama (Tokyo, Japan)

Peter Garrett – lead vocals (except tracks 1, 8)
Peter Gifford – bass guitar, backing vocals, Chapman stick (3, 7)
Rob Hirst – drums, percussion, backing vocals, lead vocals (1, 8)
Jim Moginie – guitars, keyboards, arrangements (brass, string)
Martin Rotsey – guitars

Additional musicians
Charlie McMahon – didgeridoo (track 9)
Kazufumi Ohhama – arrangements (brass, string)

Production work
Producer – Nick Launay, Midnight Oil at Victor Aoyama Studio, Tokyo, Japan
Live production – Michael Lippold
Engineer – Gary Fox, Nick Launay
Assistant Engineer – Yoshi Yuki Kaneko, Shigeo Miyamoto
Mixing – Nick Launay at Victor Aoyama Studio, Tokyo, Japan

Art work
Yasutaka Kato – cover design, design, graphic design
Tsunehisa Kimura – artwork, cover art

“When the Generals Talk” / “Who Can Stand In The Way”
Released: 1984

“Best of Both Worlds” / “Kosciusko”
Released: 1985

Species Deceases

On November 26, 1985, Midnight Oil released Species Deceases, their second standalone EP.

1. “Progress” Moginie, Garrett (3:57)
2. “Hercules” Moginie, Garrett, Hirst (4:38)
3. “Blossom and Blood” Hirst, Moginie (4:35)
4. “Pictures” Hirst, Moginie, Garrett, Rotsey, Gifford (3:12)

Recorded September 1985 Paradise Studios, Darlinghurst
Producer – Midnight Oil, Francois Kevorkian
Engineer – David Price

Peter Garrett – lead vocals, harmonica
Peter Gifford – bass guitar, backing vocals
Rob Hirst – drums, backing vocals
Jim Moginie – lead guitar, keyboards
Martin Rotsey – lead guitar

Artwork concept – Midnight Oil, Philip Ellett

Australian (Kent Music Report) 1

“The Dead Heart”

In August 1986, Midnight Oil released “The Dead Heart,” an acoustic group-written rocker about the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal children by the Australian government. Its release coincided with the return of Uluru (then known as Ayers Rock) to the Pitjantjatjara: the native people of Australia’s Northern Territory.

“The Dead Heart” appeared as a standard 7″ (b/w the Red Sails cut “Kosciusko”) and a 12″ backed with songs by the Aboriginal groups Warumpi Band (“Blackfella / Whitefella”) and Coloured Stone (“This Land”).

Australia (Kent Music Report) 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 14

“The Dead Heart” reappeared the following summer on their next studio album.

Diesel and Dust

Midnight Oil released their sixth album, Diesel and Dust, on August 2, 1987, on Columbia.

1. “Beds Are Burning” (4:14)
2. “Put Down That Weapon” (4:38)
3. “Dreamworld” (3:36)
4. “Arctic World” Garrett, Moginie (4:21)
5. “Warakurna” Moginie (4:38)

6. “The Dead Heart” (5:10)
7. “Whoah” Garrett, Moginie (3:50)
8. “Bullroarer” (4:59)
9. “Sell My Soul” Garrett, Moginie (3:35)
10. “Sometimes” (3:53)

Recorded January–April 1987
Studio Albert (Sydney)

Peter Garrett – lead vocals and backing vocals
Peter Gifford – bass and backing vocals
Robert Hirst – drums, drum machine and backing vocals
Jim Moginie – guitars, synthesizers, backing vocals and string arrangements
Martin Rotsey – guitars

Additional musicians
Glad Reed – trombone
John Ockwell – cello
Jeremy Smith – French horn

Midnight Oil – production
Warne Livesey – production, additional keyboards
Guy Gray – engineering
Greg Henderson – engineering (6)
Gary Morris – management (credited as “facilitator”)

In August, Midnight Oil lifted “Beds Are Burning” as the second Diesel a-side; backed with the non-album “Gunbarrel Highway,” a group-written number.

B. “Gunbarrel Highway” (3:38)

Canada Top Singles (RPM)[10] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[17] 1
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[18] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[9] 2
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[15] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[16] 3
France (SNEP)[13] 5
Australia (Kent Music Report)[8] 6
UK Singles (OCC)[20] 6
US Album Rock Tracks (Billboard)[21] 6
Ireland (IRMA)[14] 11
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[19] 17
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 17

“Put Down That Weapon” / “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”
Released: December 1987

“The Dead Heart”
U.S. Billboard Top Albums Tracks[17] 11
France (SNEP)[12] 19
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[11] 20

Released: 1988

Australian Albums Kent Music Report[30] 1
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[31] 1
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[34] 1
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[35] 5
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[36] 7
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[32] 13
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[33] 14
UK Albums (OCC)[37] 19
US Billboard 200[38] 21

Blue Sky Mining

Midnight Oil released their seventh album, Blue Sky Mining, on February 9, 1990, on Columbia.

1. “Blue Sky Mine” Garrett, Hillman, Hirst, Moginie, Rotsey (4:18)
2. “Stars of Warburton” Garrett, Moginie (4:43)
3. “Bedlam Bridge” Hirst (4:25)
4. “Forgotten Years” Hirst, Moginie (4:21)
5. “Mountains of Burma” Hirst (4:50)

6. “King of the Mountain” Hirst, Moginie (3:58)
7. “River Runs Red” Hirst, Moginie (5:28)
8. “Shakers and Movers” Garrett, Moginie (4:32)
9. “One Country” Garrett, Moginie (5:56)
10. “Antarctica” Garrett, Hirst, Moginie, Rotsey (4:22)

Recorded June−September 1989
Studio Rhinoceros Studios, Sydney
Producer Warne Livesey & Midnight Oil

Peter Garrett – lead vocals, harmonica
Bones Hillman – bass, vocals
Robert Hirst – drums, vocals
Jim Moginie – guitars, keyboards, vocals
Martin Rotsey – guitars

Additional personnel
Warne Livesey – additional keyboards
Jeremy Smith – French horn
Phillip Hartl – String Leader
Glad and Carl – Horn Swells

“Blue Sky Mine”
Released: January 1990
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[27] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[21] 2
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[13] 7
Australia (ARIA)[11] 8
Norway (VG-lista)[22] 8
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[23] 11

“Forgotten Years/Shakers & Movers” 12″ b/w Moginie “You May Not Be Released”

B. “You May Not Be Released” (3:38)

Released: April 1990

“King of the Mountain”
Released: July 1990

“Bedlam Bridge”
Released: October 1990
“One Country”
Released: 1991

Australian Albums (ARIA)[25] 1
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[30] 1
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[28] 2
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[31] 2
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[33] 2
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[32] 3
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[27] 6
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[26] 13
US Billboard 200[35] 20



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