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Midnight Oil’s Resist is earnest environmental protest music that rocks

The veteran Australian rockers plead for people to help save the planet from crooked politicians and climate change on their terrific farewell album.
Midnight Oil -- Resist album cover art

MIDNIGHT OIL
RESIST
Sony Music Entertainment Australia (CD, LP)
Four Stars

By John Curley

Midnight Oil have always been an intense band. Their 15th and final studio album, aptly titled Resist, continues that reputation. The album was recorded in Sydney in late 2019 and was produced by Wayne Livesey. A decision was taken to hold the release of the album until the band deemed that it was safe to follow its release with a farewell tour. The tour will begin in their native Australia this week and will bring the band to North America in June and to Europe in July. They are a must see in concert, so check their live dates at https://www.midnightoil.com/tour/.

Personnel on the Resist album were lead vocalist Peter Garrett, Rob Hirst on drums and vocals, Martin Rotsey on guitar, Jim Moginie on guitar keyboards and vocals and Bones Hillman on bass and vocals. (Hillman died of cancer in November 2020.) Producer Wayne Livesey provided additional keyboards. Guest musicians were violinist Evelyn Finnerty, Andy Bickers on saxophone and cellist Julian Thompson. The spoken-word parts at the outset of album closer “Last Frontier” were by Kamahl.

The album opens with “Rising Seas,” the title of which sets the environmental-friendly tone for the album. The outset of the song features organ and an earnest vocal by Garrett. It then kicks into more of a rock song once the full band joins in. It’s a fantastic, stinging rebuke of ruinous environmental policies by the governments of the world’s nations that are fueling the climate crisis.

“The Barka-Darling River” pays tribute to Australia’s Darling River, which has suffered from drought and pollution. It’s a strident, three-part rocker with an insistent vocal by Garrett. In the midsection, it shifts to a softer balance featuring piano and acoustic guitar before picking up pace again for the last third of the song. Among the song’s lyrics are “There’s a famine of compassion / Good people are forgotten.”

“We Resist” is a beautiful and moving call to action for people to stand up and speak out using the power of protest against the forces of greed that are harming us all. The lyrics state “It’s a storm without end / Where’s the lighthouse? Where’s a friend? / Come to think / It can’t last / Only if / We resist.”

The gorgeous “Tarkine” features Finnerty’s violin and provides the message “In this high-viz world I must have missed the turn / Because all I found were billboards, flyers and merchandise.”

Midnight Oil will promote their final album, Resist, with a farewell tour that includes shows in North America in June. (Photo by Rémi Chauvin)

Midnight Oil will promote their final album, Resist, with a farewell tour that includes shows in North America in June. (Photo by Rémi Chauvin)

There are other standout songs on the album. The rocker “At The Time Of Writing” is highlighted by Garrett’s vocal, Hirst’s drumming and Bickers’ saxophone. “Nobody’s Child” is a song of uplift with the message “Beauty, love and compassion / Spread it everywhere / Because nothing less will do.” A powerful protest song about greed ruining the environment, “Reef” opines “The sky is a mirror of self interest and greed.” A warning about how the wrong ideas can lead us down a ruinous path, “Lost At Sea” rages, “In the age when the loudest voices win, words are now worth less then silence.” “We Are Not Afraid” is about the hope for a positive outcome despite the odds, seeing light through the darkness and standing up with courage against the forces that are wrong.

On their last album, Midnight Oil exit the stage with a roar. Resist is a magnificent piece of work that will serve to cement their legacy.

The music video for “Rising Seas” can be seen below:

The visualizer video for “Tarkine” can be seen below:

The music video for “At The Time Of Writing” can be seen below:

The music video for “We Resist” can be seen below: