Earth And Sun And Moon

Midnight Oil

Columbia Records, 1993

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, I can't explain why certain things are in the Pierce Archives. Oh, I can explain why Space Ritual from Hawkwind is in there (it had Lemmy Kilmister - hoo, what a mistake that was!), I can explain why In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida from Iron Butterfly is in there (it was psychedelic, so it had to be cool - and it was). I can even explain why Wham! is in there (it was a quarter, gimme a break).

But for the love of me, I can't figure out why I bought Earth And Sun And Moon from Midnight Oil back in 1993. I'm admittedly not big into Midnight Oil, and this particular album didn't get a lot of airplay. The only reason I can think I bought it is that the music on it was so damn good.

Peter Garrett and crew had experienced superstardom with their releases Diesel And Dust and Blue Sky Mining, but it almost felt like the band wanted to escape from the "hit single" mode they seemed to be locked into at this point. What this spelled for Midnight Oil was a return to music for the sake of the song, not the sake of the charts. This could have been career suicide in the eyes of the suits, but it still resulted in a very fine record that did have hit single potential.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In one sense, Earth And Sun And Moon spelled a move away from guitar-driven songs, and more emphasis on the organ work of Jim Moginie. In my mind, an excellent idea. The opening track "Feeding Frenzy," which builds up from Bones Hillman's unique bass work, creates such a vast layering of sound that this could have been a masterpiece for the band.

The one song I remember getting airplay in Chicago, "Truganini," possibly lost its deeper meaning as it came over to the States and out of Australia, but it still is a powerful song, if not as strong as other hits like "Beds Are Burning" and "Forgotten Years". No, that title is reserved for the criminally-overlooked "Outbreak Of Love," another song whose sonic layers scream silently for your attention. A beautiful number, this could have been Midnight Oil at their most creative. Even the title track features layers of sound that wash over the listener gently.

This doesn't mean that Garrett and crew had abandoned the guitar or the poppy single. "Bushfire"'s acoustic guitar backbone sets the mood for another song you'll remmeber after listening to this album even once. As for hit singles, "In The Valley" was poppy enough to have gotten the nod, and should have garnered some significant airplay when this album came out. Unfortunately, it didn't.

Where Earth And Sun And Moon goes wrong is only on a few songs. The first part of the album is a little more difficult to get into, as tracks like "My Country" and "Renaissance Man" just don't capture the listener's attention or the spirit of this album that well. Only one other song on the album, "Tell Me The Truth," falls short of expectations.

Some people criticize Midnight Oil for their political stances they take. In the case of Earth And Sun And Moon, these causes seem to be kept to a minimum (or they're very well hidden). I found political agendas only on the title track and "Truganini"; the rest just seemed like good ol' rock to me.

Earth And Sun And Moon is, with the exception of the pre- Diesel And Dust catalog, one of the forgotten albums from Midnight Oil - and it's an album that deserved a better fate. Five years after it came out, it still remains a high water mark for the band.

Rating: B

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.