Customer Reviews: Blue Sky Mining
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HALL OF FAMEon October 18, 2003
The social and corporate protest of Midnight Oil extends to their followup to Diesel And Dust. However, the sound is kind of muted compared to that superlative work. The lyrics, however, have evolved in poignancy and speak volumes more than the other album.
Heralded by a wailing bluesy harmonica, "Blue Sky Mine" tells the story of a worker who has ethical, anti-corporate principles, "but if I work all day on the blue sky mine/there'll be food on the table tonight". More than that, the company deceives its shareholders by fudging the books. "Who's gonna save me?" cries the worker plaintively, but there is hope: "In the end the rain comes down/washes clean the streets of a blue sky town."
An aborigine can't believe that despite the hypermart malls, industrial technology, and ATMs, that he can see the "Stars Of Warburton" waiting for him. He wishes for buffalos, wallaby stew, sandstone cliffs, all hallmarks of his culture. Warburton is not only a town, but the name of an aboriginal reserve located in the east end of West Australia province.
An eerie sound reminiscent of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" is prevalent in "Bedlam Bridge". The instrumentation later picks up, but the title place is the gateway to "a place that knows no poverty/a town without pollution." That is in contrast to the upscale apartments, where one sees "the golden ghetto's creeper."
"Forgotten Years" has a strong guitar riff and pace bringing back the "diesel and dust", and it's a story how the older generation of aboriginals fought in World War II, lost the rights to their lands ("contracts torn at the edges/old signatures stained with tears") had it tougher than the younger generation, who have it easy. This is a call to never forget those years, "the hardest years, the darkest years/the roarin' years, the fallen years". The best song here.
The somber "Mountains Of Burma" criticizes "a government that has axes in its eyes" and hopes years of activism, from workers marching on May Day, to females fighting for equal pay, won't give way to complacency. What do we indeed do when "bills fall due for the industrial revolution"?
"King Of The Mountain" decry the destruction of land for the benefit of the sugar cane industry. There's a poignant verse of the destruction sung in rapid-fire punk anger: "I can't take the hands from my face/there are some things we can't replace."
The slow "River Runs Red" is downright depressing and condemns corporate ravishment of the land: "So you cut all the tall trees down/you poisoned the sky and the sea/you've taken what's good from the ground/but you left precious little for me." And the force behind it is the dollar. The song rises to a crescendo with the chorus repeats: "River runs red/black rain falls/on my bleeding land."
"Shakers And Movers" is a worrying but catchy Byrdsy song about what's done in the name of the "great god of development" Key line here: "Tomorrow's child takes concrete footsteps/and they'll drink champagne or be damned."
"One Country" is Garrett at his philosophical best. The song lines are mostly age-old questions that have been debated by intellectuals for years: "Who hands out equal rights/who starts and ends that fight" or "Who'd like to change the world", "Who gets to work for bread". And in typical Dylanesque style, he says "don't call me the tune, I will walk away." This hints that we have to figure it out for ourselves. But "One country/one understanding" is what it amounts to.
The narrator of the somber final track "Antarctica" is a snowplow that at one point says "There must be one place left in the world/where the skin says it can breathe/there's gotta be one place left in the world/it's a solitude of distance and relief."
Blue Sky Mine may not have the punch of Diesel And Dust, but that is replaced by more pressing concerns against the sugar industries exploiting aboriginal lands and environmental rapine that takes place in the name of the "great god of development." A great companion to Diesel And Dust.
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on July 5, 2002
Midnight Oil only entered my consciousness with "Diesel and Dust" but i have been an interested fan ever since. I got this album in an analog tape format 12 years ago, and indeed has deteriorated through countless listenings and age.
Despite being a highly political rock band, the Oils come across effortlessly as credible and talented. In other words, they can back up their beliefs with the solid musicianship as good as anyone else. From the all-out rockers "Blue Sky Mine," "King of the Mountain," and "Forgotten Years" to heartfelt slowburners "Mountains of Burma," "Shakers and Movers" and "River Runs Red," this album ranks as their defining, landmark work, just slightly above "Diesel and Dust" (which put them into commercial territory - and thus, gaining a wider audience).
I had the pleasure of watching them play live in NYC recently - something i never thought would happen - and that was the best $[money] i ever spent. Seeing Peter Garrett sing "One Country" - their best ballad ever - I am not Australian, and though perhaps the Oils had their country in mind, i always thought it was the perfect song, the perfect plea, for the people of this planet to come together. Forget "We are the World;" this is the heart-to-heart stuff, right here.
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on June 16, 2001
Easily one of the top 4 or 5 Midnight Oil albums, as well as one of the albums responsible for their popularity. Not only is it musically superb, but it has some extremely sharp lyrics as well (a standar MO feature...but particulary potent here.) From the blistering harmonica solo in "Blue Sky Mine" to the infectious beats of "Forgotten Years" to the swirling sonic mass of screaming guitars on "River Runs Red" to the etereal calm of "Antarctica" this album is not only one of Midnight Oil's best, but one of the best I own. I was only a little kid when this came out too, but its music and lyrics are timeless.
This is the best example of what I call "late middle period" Midnight Oil (including albums like "Diesel & Dust" "Blue Sky Mining" "Species Deceases") Along with "Diesel & Dust" "10, 9, 8..." "Earth & Sun & Moon" "Head Injuries" & "Red Sails in the Sunset", this is one of the best places to dive into the world of Midnight Oil. I HIGHLY recommend this.
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on May 30, 2000
The Oils seem to be such a purposeful band that every album has its own strength and can stand alone. I haven't found a weak one yet and of the five I own, it's hard to pick a favourite. Much of the Oils' work is political in nature and they have never been afraid of screaming blue murder, as it were, about a particularly serious situation. Yet they are also a whimsical band that can play soft and low, and produce some of the most evocative songs of modern Rock. On "Blue Sky Mining," songs like the "Mountains of Burma" and "River Runs Red" have an almost plaintive quality at times, although that inner strength which marches through all their music is never far away. The pleasure I get out of singing songs like "Forgotten Years," which I now find myself singing along with my 10-year-old son, is ridiculous. Who can forget lyrics like, "Still it aches like tetanus," once heard.
It seems the Oils are everything at once. They have rolled history, folklore, aboriginal mythology, social action, environmental consciousness and goodness knows what else into one and made it work. Maybe that's why they are so hard to pin down, and also why they are able to keep going. They are their own mystery and occupy a space in which individual growth is matched by genuine concern for the world they live in. Long life to the Oils.
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on January 17, 2007
I've always liked Midnight Oil. Their unique sound, passion, intelligence, and musicianship were perfect for my music snob ears. If subject matter such as human rights, protecting the environment, and developing a caring heart are important to you, Midnight Oil is the perfect band.

I saw the Oils around the time of this release. I'll never forget the gig. Peter Garrett loomed larged on the stage. His jerky movements and impassioned vocal delivery are branded into my brain.

At the time of the release of Blue Sky Mining, the Oils were on nearly every radio station in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I remember one DJ who commented, "This is the best song on the radio" just before he spun the disc. For a DJ to actually voice an opinion takes guts. And to make such an absolute statement takes more still.

But the DJ's comments are entirely justified. "Blue Sky Mining" is a great song -- one that takes it place among many great songs on this album. Catchy, clever, powerful, unique -- Midnight Oil's Blue Sky Mining album is a milestone release, one of my favorites in my 2,500+ CD collection.

I highly recommend Blue Sky Mining.
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on August 1, 2013
Following up Diesel and Dust was no easy trick. Following it up, building your fan base and keeping true to self is close to beyond belief. As a long time listener not always partial to what mainstream media had to throw at me, I consider the Oils a highly underrated group. With a penchant for taking on the establishment in a way that teaches and entertains they rank up there with early U2.

My favorite cut from the album and a close all albums favorite, Blue Sky Mining never fails to haunt my inner self. Could I be "him"? What would I do in his place? "Work all day and work all night. There'll be food on the table tonight". But at what cost?

If a band is remembered by commercial success alone, Midnight Oil might squeak by. If, however, they are remembered because of how they made you think and feel... well, I, for one, will NOT forget them.
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on October 8, 2007
Talk about a band that came and went way to fast. Midnight Oil were heavy players in their native Australia for years, but virtually unknown here in the U.S. That all changed with the Diesel And Dust album with it's huge hit Beds Are Burning in the late 80's. Blue Sky Mining was the follow up album which also did fairly well here in America. Then the band just kind of fell off the map. They made several albums after this one, but never returned to prominence in this country and only toured occasionally. I never quite understood what happened as Midnight Oil put out some great music and live they were fantastic. Blue Sky Mining is a great album, and it sounds as relevant today as it did 17 years ago (has it really been that long?). Every song on here is a winner. Instrumentally the band is fantastic and the vocals are all great as well. Highlights for me include, Blue Sky Mining, Forgotten Years, Mountains Of Burma, One Country, and Antarctica. Really every song on the disc is great. If you have never gotten into Midnight Oil this album is well worth checking out. If you already are a fan this album is essential.
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Midnight Oil followed up the huge success of "Diesel and Dust" with another album in the same vein that suffered only from not being quite as successful commercially. This is most likely because it doesn't contain a killer single like "Beds Are Burning," though "Bedlam Bridge" and "King of the Mountain," and "Forgotten Years" come close. If anything, "Blue Sky Mining" is actually a little more consistent than "Diesel." The band's penchant for leftist political lyrics was by this time well established, though it may have ultimately kept them from achieving U2-like international popularity.
Like fellow Aussies The Church, Midnight Oil made a big splash in the late 1980s only to fade from view as the 1990s wore on. Both are now trying to reestablish themselves in the U.S., with limited success thus far. Nevertheless, "Blue Sky Mining" is a solid album from their American glory days.
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on May 14, 2009
This band rocks. They give you reality through their music, you feel like you are rebelling with them and the hard working blue collar man. The lyrics are well written. I especially love "Antartica" and with the Global warming and environmental changes happening, you wonder how much longer it will survive. These songs will never get old with me, I could listen to them over and over and never get tired of them. This is one CD you must add to your collection.
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on March 21, 2014
This review is for the Culture Factory CD Deluxe Vinyl Replica. Great remastered sound. Very nice vinyl replica CD. Over-all great for the price. The sound is much enhanced than previous versions. What are you waiting for?
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