Saturday, October 04, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 3, 2014 (On a Saturday)

[30 Years of Red Sails] -- On October 1, 1984, a mere 30 years ago this week, Midnight Oil released their fifth studio album, Red Sails in the Sunset.  It was the band's first #1 album in their native Australia, and it charted within the US Billboard 200. The album cover was a chilling "what if?" scenario, as in "What would Sydney Harbour look like after a nuclear strike?" Following on their previous efforts, the lyrical content of Red Sails focused on politics, consumer culture, expanding military, the auspices of nuclear war, and environmental threats. Two singles were released in the US -- "When the Generals Talk" and "Best of Both Worlds" -- but neither of them charted. Musically, there was enough polish (from increased studio wizardry) and the experimental rhythms and textures should have lured in new listeners, particularly from the college radio set. So, what kept the singles grounded? Perhaps it was lead singer Peter Garrett's judgmental tone. However, it was more likely Garrett's lurching and towering presence in the band's music videos. I recall thinking he was pretty cool, but I also recall my friend, Daniels, and I being on the receiving end of our classmates' scorn for liking "that Frankenstein dancing guy."  Anyway, Midnight Oil was about three years from breaking huge with Diesel and Dust. And when that album hit, fans finally started digging into Midnight Oil's back catalog to discover this gem. For a blow-by-blow appreciation of Red Sails in the Sunset, check out A Look Back At Midnight Oil's Landmark LP 'Red Sails In The Sunset'. You can also listen to a full playlist from the album on YouTube. And, of course, I've selected three tracks that you can check out after the jump.

Flashback #1"When the Generals talk | You better listen to him | When the Generals talk | You better do what he say."

There is something about this song that still resounds so clearly 30 years after its release. Only now, it's not just generals who demand the attention of the people. 

Flashback #2"I look at the clock on the wall | It says three minutes to midnight."

When Red Sails was released, the Doomsday Clock had recently been set to three minutes to midnight (the point of nuclear holocaust). Three minutes was and remains the closest to midnight that clock has been since the ‘50s (it was at two minutes in 1953; see the full timeline here). The Doomsday Clock is currently at five minutes. 

Flashback #3"The real world is not as calm as it appears to be from here."

Tough times? A false image of how the world really is? Trumpeting about exceptionalism at home? If I didn't know any better, I could swear this song was about our current situation rather than the mid-1980s. 

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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