Thursday, October 23, 2014

red sails in the sunset

Midnight Oil went chasing history to find rumour in the ranking with this real world missionbeat doomsday ultimatum.  The band had finally broken through in Australia with their fourth album  '10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1' which had given the band the visibility to advance their political causes such as nuclear disarmament at benefit concerts like the Stop the Drop Nuclear Disarmament concert in 1983 which received a United Nations Media Peace Prize.  Also, lead singer Peter Garrett had been nominated by the Nuclear Disarmament Party to run for the Australian Senate.  As their label  CBS/Columbia was in the process of being acquired by Sony, the band was invited/encouraged to record their next album in Japan.  'Red Sails in the Sunset' was recorded during the summer of 1984 at Victor Aoyama Studio in Tokyo, Japan.  The band co-produced the sessions with Nick Launay, who also handled engineering (with Gary Fox) and mixing.  The album features  Peter Garrett on lead vocals (except tracks 1, 8);  Peter Gifford on bass guitar and backing vocals;  Rob Hirst on drums, percussion, backing vocals, and lead vocals (tracks 1, 8);  Jim Moginie on guitars, keyboards, and arrangements (brass, string);  and Martin Rotsey on guitars;    with Charlie McMahon on didgeridoo and Kazufumi Ohhama on arrangements (brass, string).  

Hirst would reflect:  "In the past few years we've done a bit of traveling.  We spent most of our time overseas wishing we were back in Sydney.  The song 'Best of Both Worlds' is about being in Sydney:  It's about what we have.  We went back and there wer more strikes on and the New South Wales government was exploding with corruption, but it seemed that - despite all these things - what was going on overseas was far, far worse, and we should just get our act together there and realize what we've got ... I was concerned about the future of the band because I felt a band that had to rehearse between Senate sittings might be a band that quickly folded in frustration.  At the same time, it was clear that this was something Pete had to do. It’s easy to forget how passionate Pete, and the band, and people in general were about the possibility of nuclear incineration...We felt that we were pushing every song into an area we hadn’t been before. We deliberately set out to put the quirkiest sounds on there, to make the most unusual album…We thought, ‘Let’s really throw ourselves at somewhere that has no reference points to where we’ve been.” 

Garrett considers:  “Lyrically the album’s bloody good, most of it, but with all respects to Nick, the production was all a bit overwrought. Apart from that I think it’s a very fine record ... Both roles [of artist and politician] require a commitment.  A politician, I think, is someone who genuinely seeks to serve his nation and not his own ego, who's prepared to listen, and who won't compromise on those important issues that people have elected him for.   A musician should be someone who values their music and their audience, their art and the process of inspiration, more highly than themselves or the size of their bank account or how big their house might be...Where greed and acquisition of money is placed as a highest priority, then evil prospers. It's a proverb, I suspect...We take the view that having the ability to continue to make records and make a living, just a standard living -- that is sufficient for us.  Any clear examination of why so much stuff has gone astray is because so many people are trying to get more than anybody else.   And you know, there are people starving in this country and people starving in the world. It's not the kind of thing I believe any of us can ignore.''

'Red Sails in the Sunset' reached one hundred and seventy-seven in the US, twenty in New Zealand, and number one in Australia.  It went on to sell over four million copies in their native land.  The album cover shows Sydney Harbor after a nuclear attack.  It was designed by Yasutaka Kato and done by artist Tsunehisa Kimura.

"Best of Both Worlds"  
Hirst:   "It's been told before but still worth another spin. The one in which my drumkit is set up in the men's bathroom on floor 3 of the JVC Victor Studios in Tokyo - much to the baffled amusement of engineers Shig and Yoshi - to get a loud, live drum sound. I'm then umbilically connected to the rest of the band and producer Nick Launay by headphones, and get halfway through the definitive take of 'Best of Both Worlds'. Then I'm interrupted by studio manager Hashiguchi-san, who bursts into the bathroom desperately waving his hands, signalling for me to cease and desist. But I can't just stop - after all, we're in the middle of THE take! So I plough on, risking a serious diplomatic rift in Australian/Japanese relations. When the song is secured, I'm soberly informed that an elderly National Treasure and his wife were attempting to capture pristine recordings of koto and shamisen in the studio downstairs, when my kit noise came thundering down the stairwell. As punishment, Hashiguchi-san's afternoon gifts of ice-u cream-u to the band are suspended for 48 hours."


"When the Generals Talk"

'Red Sails in the Sunset' 
full album:

1. "When the Generals Talk"   Garrett, Hirst, Moginie 3:32
2. "Best of Both Worlds"   Hirst, Moginie 4:05
3. "Sleep"   Garrett, Hirst, Moginie 5:09
4. "Minutes to Midnight"   Garrett, Moginie 3:20
5. "Jimmy Sharman's Boxers"   Hirst, Moginie 7:10
6. "Bakerman"   Hirst 0:52
7. "Who Can Stand in the Way"   Garrett, Moginie 4:33
8. "Kosciusko"   Hirst, Moginie 4:47
9. "Helps Me Helps You"   Hirst, Moginie 3:44
10. "Harrisburg"   Moginie, Denis Kevans 3:46
11. "Bells and Horns in the Back of Beyond"   Garrett, Gifford, Hirst, Moginie, Rotsey 3:30
12. "Shipyards of New Zealand"   Garrett, Moginie 5:53

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