Diesel and Dust

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Diesel And Dust)

Diesel and Dust
Studio album by
Released2 August 1987
RecordedJanuary–April 1987
StudioAlbert (Sydney)
GenreAlternative rock
LabelSprint / Columbia
ProducerWarne Livesey, Midnight Oil
Midnight Oil chronology
Species Deceases
Diesel and Dust
Blue Sky Mining
Singles from Diesel and Dust
  1. "The Dead Heart"
    Released: August 1986
  2. "Beds Are Burning"
    Released: August 1987
  3. "Put Down That Weapon"
    Released: December 1987
  4. "Dreamworld"
    Released: 1988

Diesel and Dust is the sixth studio album by Australian rock band Midnight Oil, released in August 1987 by SPRINT Music label under Columbia Records. Diesel and Dust was produced by Warne Livesey and the band. It is a concept album about the struggles of Indigenous Australians and environmental causes, issues important to the band. It drew inspiration from the Blackfella/Whitefella Tour of remote Indigenous communities with the Warumpi Band and Gondwanaland in 1986. The album peaked at No. 1 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart for six weeks.

Diesel and Dust has been critically lauded since its release. Rolling Stone editors named it the best album of 1988 (the year of its United States release),[1] and later ranked it the 13th greatest record of the 1980s.[2][3] In October 2010, Diesel and Dust was listed at no.1 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.[4] In December of 2021, the album was listed at no. 5 in Rolling Stone Australia's "200 Greatest Albums of All Time" countdown.[5]


Midnight Oil spent several months in mid-1986 on the Blackfella/Whitefella Tour of outback Australia with indigenous music groups Warumpi Band and Gondwanaland, playing to remote Aboriginal communities and seeing first hand the seriousness of the issues in health and living standards.[6] The tour was criticised by some journalists for being a one-off event instead of a long-term attempt to build bridges between communities.[7] The band was galvanised by the experiences and made them the basis of their next album, Diesel and Dust, which was released in August 1987 and produced by Warne Livesey and the band.[8] The album focused on the need for recognition by white Australia of past injustices involving the Aboriginal nation and the need for reconciliation. Peter Gifford left the band before the album's release due to extensive touring schedules,[9] and was replaced on bass guitar by Bones Hillman, formerly of The Swingers.[8] The track "Gunbarrel Highway" was not included on the United States version of the album, reportedly, because the line "shit falls like rain on a world that is brown" was deemed too offensive for US audiences.[10]

Diesel and Dust peaked at No. 1 on the Australian albums charts for six weeks,[11] No. 21 on the US Billboard 200 in 1988,[12] and No. 19 on the UK Albums Chart.[13] "Beds Are Burning" was their biggest international hit single, peaking at No. 6 in Australia,[11] No. 17 on the US Billboard Hot 100[14] and No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart.[13] "The Dead Heart" peaked at No. 4 in Australia,[11] and charted on the Hot 100[14] and in the UK.[13] "Put Down that Weapon" also charted in Australia,[11] while "Dreamworld" charted on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks and at No. 16 on its Modern Rock Tracks.[14]

At the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) 1988 Awards ceremony, Midnight Oil won "Best Cover Art" for Diesel and Dust. The album cover was designed by photographer Ken Duncan (b.1954, Mildura, VIC) and visual artist Wart (also known as Jen Waterhouse) (b.1958, Geelong, VIC). It also won "Best Single" and "Best Song" for "Beds Are Burning".[15][16] A fracas developed between Gary Morris, their manager who was accepting awards for Midnight Oil, and former Countdown compere Ian Meldrum who was presenting: Meldrum objected to Morris making political commentary from the podium.[16]

There were concerns about Diesel and Dust and Midnight Oil's attempts to express indigenous issues to white urban audiences – namely, the question "who holds the power to tell whose history?"[7] The lyrics of "The Dead Heart" tell the story of colonisation from an indigenous point of view, but some critics felt they reinforced the "primitive" stereotype.[7] Use of the bullroarer was criticised as belonging to sacred rituals, and therefore not appropriate for rock songs.[7] "The Dead Heart" had been written in response to a request by organisers of the 1985 ceremony to return control of Uluru to its indigenous caretakers; Midnight Oil originally resisted being added to a concert bill that they believed should contain indigenous groups, but the organisers insisted, arguing that the band would reach a wider audience within the predominantly Caucasian urban centres.[17] Midnight Oil requested that all royalties from the song go to indigenous communities.[18] In addition, two indigenous groups, Warumpi Band and Gondwanaland, toured with them.

Following the 1988 American tour in support of Diesel and Dust with Australian band Yothu Yindi, Midnight Oil launched the Burning Bridges album with various artists contributing, including Paul Kelly, Scrap Metal, Coloured Stone, Hunters & Collectors, James Reyne, The Saints, Crowded House, and INXS.[6] All sales proceeds were donated to the National Coalition of Aboriginal Organisations.[6]

During 1989 to 1993 and 1998 to 2002, Peter Garrett, the band's lead singer, was the President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, whilst during 1993 to 1998 he was on the International Board of Greenpeace.[19] In 1990 Midnight Oil played an impromptu lunchtime set in front of Exxon headquarters in New York with a banner reading, "Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick," protesting the Exxon Valdez oil spill the previous year.[9]

"Arctic World" was written by Jim Moginie and Peter Garrett and runs for 4 minutes, 21 seconds. The song is about mining and oil drilling in Greenland and Alaska,[20] and was meant to bring attention to the harmful effects these activities have on the environment.[20][21]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Daily Record[23]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[24]
Los Angeles Times[25]
Rolling Stone[27]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[28]
Tom Hull – on the WebB+[29]
The Village VoiceB+[30]

According to Australian rock music historian Ian McFarlane, Midnight Oil "reached the peak of its powers with the release of the groundbreaking Diesel and Dust... [it] is arguably one of the greatest Australian albums of all time. Powerful, dynamic and passionate songs like 'Beds are Burning', 'Put Down that Weapon', 'Dreamworld', 'The Dead Heart' and 'Sell My Soul' were statements of intent and a call to action backed by the strength of their convictions".[6] Mark Deming of AllMusic called the record "an artistic success and a triumph for leftist politics" which "makes clear that the bandmembers could apply their intelligence and passion to less aggressive material and still come up with forceful, compelling music".[22]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Peter Garrett, Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie, except where noted

Side one
1."Beds Are Burning" 4:14
2."Put Down That Weapon" 4:38
3."Dreamworld" 3:36
4."Arctic World"Garrett, Moginie4:21
Side two
6."The Dead Heart" 5:10
7."Whoah"Garrett, Moginie3:50
8."Bullroarer" 4:59
9."Sell My Soul"Garrett, Moginie3:35
10."Sometimes" 3:53
Not included on the vinyl and cassette releases or the original US CD release.
11."Gunbarrel Highway"Garrett, Peter Gifford, Hirst, Moginie, Martin Rotsey3:38



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[44] 7× Platinum 490,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[45] 3× Platinum 300,000^
France (SNEP)[46] 2× Platinum 600,000*
Germany (BVMI)[47] Platinum 500,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[48] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[49] Platinum 15,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[50] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[51] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[52] Platinum 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


Midnight Oil
Additional musicians
  • Glad Reed - trombone
  • John Ockwell - cello
  • Jeremy Smith - French horn
  • Midnight Oil - production
  • Warne Livesey - production, additional keyboards
  • Guy Gray - engineering
  • Greg Henderson - engineering (6)
  • Gary Morris - management (credited as "facilitator")


  1. ^ "End of Year Critic Lists: 1988". Rolling Stone. Archived at Rocklist.net. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  2. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Eighties: Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  3. ^ McCarthy, Sean (6 May 2013). "'Power and the Passion': An Interview with Midnight Oil". PopMatters. Sarah Zupko. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  4. ^ O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.
  5. ^ Rolling Stone's 200 Greatest Australian Albums of All Time. Rolling Stone Australia, Rolling Stone Australia, 06 December 2021. Retrieved 06 December 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Midnight Oil'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-768-2. Archived from the original on 13 August 2004.
  7. ^ a b c d Vellutini, Laetitia (30 September 2012). "Finding a Voice on Indigenous Issues: Midnight Oil's Inappropriate Appropriations". The Australian Public Intellectual Network. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  8. ^ a b Holmgren, Magnus; Stenerlöv, Carl-Johan. "Midnight Oil". Australian Rock Database. Passagen.se (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  9. ^ a b Ed Nimmervoll (ed.). "Midnight Oil". Howlspace. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  10. ^ The Dead Heart Midnight Oil FAQ, retrieved 11 March 2007.
  11. ^ a b c d Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  12. ^ "Midnight Oil – Charts & Awards – Billboard Albums". allmusic. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
  13. ^ a b c "The Official Charts Company Midnight Oil". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 October 2008.
  14. ^ a b c "Midnight Oil – Charts & Awards – Billboard Albums". allmusic. Retrieved 22 October 2008.
  15. ^ "ARIA Awards 2008: History: Winners by Artist search result for Midnight Oil". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 25 August 2008.[dead link]
  16. ^ a b "ARIA Awards 2008: History: Winners by Year search result for 1988". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  17. ^ "Midnight Oil: a band with a conscience". BBC. 11 February 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  18. ^ "Memorable TV – L to M". Memorable TV. Archived from the original on 17 October 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2008.
  19. ^ "Peter Garrett Entry". Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 2001. Archived from the original on 14 September 2001. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  20. ^ a b "Midnight Oil - Arctic World Lyrics". Songmeanings.com. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  21. ^ Midnight Oil#International success and activism: 1985–2002
  22. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "Diesel and Dust – Midnight Oil". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  23. ^ Dingwall, John (20 June 2008). "Albums". Daily Record. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  24. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  25. ^ Willman, Chris (6 March 1988). "Burning Midnight Oil". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  26. ^ Gilstrap, Andrew (19 June 2008). "Midnight Oil: Diesel and Dust". PopMatters. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  27. ^ Fricke, David (7 April 1988). "Midnight Oil: Diesel And Dust". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  28. ^ Fricke, David (2004). "Midnight Oil". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 541–42. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  29. ^ Hull, Tom (8 November 2023). "Grade List: Midnight Oil". Tom Hull – on the Web. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  30. ^ Christgau, Robert (14 March 1989). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  31. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. NOTE: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1970 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988.
  32. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 8699". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  33. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  34. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  35. ^ "Charts.nz – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  36. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  37. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  38. ^ "Midnight Oil | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  39. ^ "Midnight Oil Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  40. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1987 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  41. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1988". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  42. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1988". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  43. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1988". Billboard. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  44. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2014 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  45. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust". Music Canada. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  46. ^ "French album certifications – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  47. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Midnight Oil; 'Diesel and Dust')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  48. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 18 July 2022. Enter Diesel and Dust in the "Artiest of titel" box. Select 1996 in the drop-down menu saying "Alle jaargangen".
  49. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Midnight Oil – Diesel & Dust". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  50. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Midnight Oil; 'Diesel and Dust')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  51. ^ "British album certifications – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  52. ^ "American album certifications – Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 18 July 2022.

External links[edit]