I am going to review a couple of old Midnight Oil albums in order to measure them against each other and justify my preference for one over the other. In fairness, I have only ever had this album Head Injuries as a muddy-sounding home pirated cassette. Clearly I am not an audiophile - and I would never criticise music for it's production values so it's not going to influence me I don't think.
I don't really get into anything Midnight Oil recorded after Red Sails In The Sunset (1984). They made some good and rightfully popular music but it didn't grab me the way the early stuff did. I was at Joe Crawford's house, one day in grade 10 I think, and he was playing some albums his cool young Uncle Max had sent them from Sydney, including Place Without A Postcard. I was hooked immediately. One of my formative experiences as a 17 year old was taking off to Launceston with a gang of schoolmates to see them play at the Velodrome (not an especially charismatic venue) and about ten of us staying that night in a holiday cabin nearby that accommodated 4.
Cold Cold Change opens the album with what I think of as a dumb riff, like Feeling Kinda Sporty by Dave Graney is. The best part of the song is the chord at the end. It was released as a single. It's common to start an album with what you think is the strongest track; but I think they were wrong. 5/10
Section 5 (Bus to Bondi) On this record quite often the lyrics don't scan very well, just ill-suited to the musical space provided. Here is an example "Push start this car tomorrow, I'll take it to the tip yaaaaaaaard, and I'll leave it as a memory for cats.to.sleep" 5/10
Naked Flame - This works. Like a lot of their songs at this stage I have no idea what this about. It's got a nice Sherberty harmonic chorus near the end. 7/10
Back on the Borderline opens with great drum solo and settles into a good tempo. Very catchy 4 word chorus. "The only place is Laminex" - nup no idea what this is about either. Much more straighforward rock without tempo changes etc of first few tracks. 8/10
Koala Sprint opens with a spoken word bit over a choppy keyboard something like a distant helicopter (which returns on Outside World on a later album). Part 2 is a quiet instrumental prelude then Garret screams and it turns into road song, about a surf trip going north. A bit like Houndog by Cold Chisel. Then for the outro the helicopter comes back. End of side 1. I can hear the needle lift on my home taped cassette. 6/10
No Reaction is back to four on the floor rock, nice spidery guitar solo in the middle. "You're almost but not quite more than we deserve" was a bit complex for me as a teenager and I still don't think I have nailed it. 7/10
Stand in Line The standout track. No Reaction sets it up well. Deals with unfairness of mining riches, unevenness of wealth distribution. Killer bassline, one of their best. Appealed to my teen sense of the world being unfair and the first step on the ladder being deliberately put out of my reach. Well, I was relatively well off and had nothing to whinge about really but out of *many people's* reach. Good guitar solo then some vocal gymnastics for a big angry finish. Must have been a roof-raiser live. 9/10
I was actually in Sydney when this concert on Goat Island happened, simulcast on Triple J and ABC TV.
Profiteers does some tricky time signature things, starts waltz, then goes 4/4, it's lost me if I'm honest. Vocals sound like they were done via a pay phone; a bit of a singsong nursery rhyme thing about recruiting boys to be soldiers. Back to waltz at the end and some military drums to help the thickies like me who haven't worked out it's about war. 6/10
Is it Now. I am feeling a sense of relief when a new track starts and it's simple rock. They were such a good tight rock band. The riff reminds me of Mental As Anything’s Possible Theme for a Future TV Drama Series. 7/10