Sunday, January 01, 2017

Review: Place Without A Postcard by Midnight Oil (1981)

I am supposed to be packing for a week away but I promised I would do this, so I have to get it done now while I have internet. For fairness I will again pick apart the songs and try to ignore the overall deep attachment I have to this record. I sing this album right through to myself sometimes, on a long walk or during a long wait for a train etc. I once had a mildly hellish ride back to Cuzco from Machu Picchu on a crowded train, riding in the toilet cubicle the whole way; and my memory of this album got me through it. 

Don’t Wanna Be The One Jim Moginie on the organ is the spine of this track. Kind of dull 4/4 from Rob Hirst until the big finish. 6/10

Brave Faces This is the real start of the album for me. When I sing it my recitation always starts with “I’ve seen faces in the window”. The bridge has another great walking bassline that returns in the coda paired with a great guitar solo, tied in a bow at the end. 8½/10

Armistice Day Very unusual song to release as a single. Slow and menacing. I have never been a huge fan of it - it is almost too spare. Full instrumentation kicks in after nearly 2 minutes. Lyrically and in tempo a cousin of Short Memory on 10 9 8. 6/10

Someone Else To Blame Short sharp and perceptive song. “See me suffer see me pain - must be someone else to blame”. Busy bass, great solo. 8/10

Basement Flat Hell is other people - a song about the rental market. First chorus seems to come from somewhere else entirely, but the second one fits better somehow. About 1:50 someone starts playing a stapler. Good but not great song. “What can I do - there must be some solution” - not one of their most rousing calls to action. 5/10

Written In The Heart The chorus suffers a little from the words-don’t fit music thing, but the music is terrific although the dreaded harmonica appears near the end. 7/10

Burnie This is about my hometown, so I have always pricked my ears up to the lyrics. Burnie is an industrial port town - in 1981 especially it would have been pretty ugly. This song is unflattering but has empathy - it says you don’t have to accept it or leave it - you can stay and change it. I have a feeling the “surfing priest” was Fr Jim Souley, who took over our parish shortly before I stopped attending mass. Musically its a bit slow and has an unconvincing chord change going into the chorus. 6/10

Quinella Holiday A cracker - a Paul Kelly-like short story in a song. And the beginning of a wonderful Abbey Road-style medley 9/10

 as it rolls into … Loves On Sale Catchy uptempo powerpop number about conspicuous consumption. Some Reg Mombassa-sounding whammy in there 8/10

If Ned Kelly Was King A really mature and complex song. 17-year-old me thought Ned Kelly as king was a fine idea. Summary justice for Christopher Skase, Alan Bond, politicians who tee up legislation for miners then retire as paid consultants. Quinella Holiday sneaks in again at the end. 9/10

Lucky Country Really taut and balanced rock song up to 2:40 when the “helicopter” keyboard pulse comes in (Koala Sprint/Outside World style) .Garrett goes into an extraordinary spoken word rant over acoustic guitar before the electrics return. Garrett chants “small talk, small talk” as the boys sing “lucky country” behind him. 8/10

Average mark 7.3 = ★★★

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