Wednesday, June 29, 2016

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

In the late 1970's and early 1980's the band Midnight Oil had been around for a while and I had a few 'wow' moments listening to community radio stations and especially when the 'Head Injuries" album was released. T-Shirts with Peter Garrett's screaming head and outstretched arms became the uniform of every disfranchised school drop out, obvious pot-smokers and left wing university students who hadn't had a bath or shower for a week or more.

I was in high school when this music came out and it was usually the rougher or leftie kids who liked it. Having said that, I liked what I heard but I hadn't owned any albums at that stage.

A friend played me the opening riffs of  "No Time for Games" from the Bird Noises E.P. loudly through his car stereo (Tim, you've got to listen to this!") and it transported me into a different place in a moment. I was just picking up how to play guitar at the time and was learning chords to The Beatles songs (which I still really like) but, this was savage and dangerous - tortured - and yet very melodic. Hmmm, I needed to reflect on this moment. There's more out there...

Midnight Oil kept popping up, I used to sit up watching late night music shows and sometimes live footage of this band would be played. I still remember vividly watching "Advance Australia fair" being played on dual guitars with the lead singer yelling out "Mr Fraser get ****" Political as well. Interesting. As an aside, history was to show Mr Fraser a compassionate man in the end and also the lead singer, Peter Garrett, ended up putting the money where his energetic mouth was, as he was told where to go at times as he flew around Australia as a Labor federal MP.

You can read about it - this is where 10 -1 album and my little corner of the world collided.

I left school at 16 having completed year 11 in 1982. The early 80's for me were a depressing time for many of us. The threat of nuclear fallout was always simmering under the surface. Unemployment was high in my hometown and on the edge of leaving school, I had no idea what I was meant to be doing. I had heard a few songs on the radio from  "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" album by Midnight Oil and found them interesting, almost a bit psychedelic at times.

It was into this that a few friends were hanging out listening to music - something we always did - shared records and so on. A friend named Warwick had just bought the album and put it on the record turntable.

The album cover was disturbing and really eye catching at the same time. I studied it thoroughly as we listened to both sides, smoking (if my memory serves me well) and kicking back...I don't know what it was but that album really hit me. There was something in it, that spoke to me... directly... like all good music does.

The angst and the melodies and the experimentation of sounds all resonated with my 16 year old angsty tortured soul. It obviously wasn't just me either, according to Wikipedia it stayed in the charts for a whopping 171 weeks.

Somewhere along the line soon after someone 'taped' it for me and I played it, and played it and played it.

I never got bored with it and could play many of the guitar parts after a few months. The samples and keyboards and production was weird but worked really well. The songs were very strong and in fact only the strong, even.

I always listened to a lot of different music but this one was always a go to. You know, it would sit in the cassette player and you would just turn it on wherever you left it. I could hum the bars of the next songs intros before they started.

At the same time the band itself had been catapulted out of the pubs and onto the world stage. Film clips were appearing on pop music shows and it wasn't just dope smokers and unbathed lefties listening: middle Australia was too.

My school buddy and music and fellow guitarist/bass player and I secured tickets to the "Stop the Drop" concert at memorial drive:

Interestingly, I can't find on the 'net a corresponding date but it was at Memorial Drive in Adelaide and I know v. Spy v. Spy  supported them. Craig Bloxom from the Spies (online) told me that he remembered the day and they played 'touch footy' before the show. So whenever it was, it happened.

Do you think I can find any archive material from the day? Nope.

Here's a 1950's shot of Memorial Drive (so the I'm led to believe) with the high stadium open air seats - it wasn't heaps different in the early 1980's (from memory) to this. Though it has gone 'up market' now and haven't had concerts there for a long time:

The concert was part of the anti-nuke stance that was gaining momentum and there were protest signs and people similar to this walking around:

Banners with this slogan:

Midnight Oil unfolded a large banner with the ^above wording^ at the end of their concert

We only knew too well of Nuclear fallout due to the British testing bombs in South Australia at Maralinga.

The 10 to 1 album had a song entitled "Maralinga". The truth of the destruction these tests caused to people and environment was just coming to the surface. You can look up the details on line. 

  It was a hot day and the place was packed. Michael and I sat up the very back of the open air grandstand taking it all in, smoking (as everyone did back then) and wearing our new T -Shirts:

 The concert was way above any expectations. There are a lot of great bands but to this day I have never seen such a powerful live band as Midnight Oil onstage. I was blown away. This was music that was real, raw, melodic. Lyrically I was thinking more about what politics was really about and power and money. This album and this concert summed up a lot of what I was waking up to in the world at the time. Unforgettable.

Here's all I've got left of a bought cassette I actually paid money for eventually... well used, huh:

I have since buoght the CD, of course....Songs from the album:

Bonus: have a look this documentary on the making of it