Why is this album special to you?
This album oozes Australia from its every groove. It has so many influences. It is grunge. It is hard. It is emotional. While slamming the then-leadership of Australia it still is an album of pride in Australia It is also an album of astonishing musicianship. Rob Hirst’s drumming skims along the top. Even Peter Garrett’s voice fits in well. No wonder. One of the songs is about his mother, who died in a house fire when he was a young man. The album was criticised at the time as being a little too soft, and a sister of one of the band members told me that this criticism crushed the band. I can understand why. Some critics just don’t get it. But the critics won't be remembered. This album will be.
How did you come to hear it?
I was on holiday in Bali and I saw a cassette of the cover. It struck me for the beautiful indigenous-inspired artwork. I bought it and played it. I hated it. The first track struck me as too 1960s-influenced. I brought it home, put it in a drawer, and about 6 months later decided to play it again. Something happened and I fell instantly in love. It must’ve been that I just wasn’t ready for it the first time. Maybe like the critics.
What was happening in your life when the album was released?
I was working as a legal reporter on ABC radio in Sydney and was about to get my first overseas assignment (in South Africa). In fact I took the cassette with me to Johannesburg, just to keep my Australian spirit burning. We were living in the Blue Mountains, to the west of Sydney, and I was writing my second book at the time, and playing in a really bad rock band.
Name your favourite track and why?
The final track, Now or Never Land. It starts with the line: “ I grew tall in this lucky land. I thank God for that, but there are needles in the sand.” A song that starts like this has to go to be something pretty wild, but it surprises you, by becoming a cry for Australia to take action to meet the challenges of the world. But it ends with a South Pacific chant, which is hugely uplifting. The final drop in the Oils’ musical rollercoaster. A perfect way to end a perfect album. It makes me cry every time I play it.
If you had one word to describe the album what would it be?
All this week you'll be hearing tracks from this album on Radio Australia.
Listen across the day for Radio Australia's Album of the Week to hear contemporary and popular Australian musicians play and talk us through their latest releases.
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