Chiko Locallo (B-sides & Rarities)
The return of Midnight Oil was signalled with a press conference announcing a full world tour – and two massive box-sets, the first Full Tank, a reminder of those amazing studio albums, and then Overflow Tank with its rarities and bits and pieces; both sets offering DVD footage of concerts and docs as well as the studio and live recordings on CD. But, fortunately the CD rarities can be accessed as stand-alone offerings, this collection of B-sides and rarities is certainly worth examining – for a start it captures the band after its commercial and critical peak.
I’m of the opinion they never released a dud, and I think some really great songs can be found on their final album and on a couple of their mid-90s offerings. But it’s very clear that after the American breakthrough in 1988 and then through to 1990 it was then a case of diminishing returns.
So to hear some of the bits and pieces that didn’t make the final albums, or to hear them in earlier states – and one or two choice covers – is gold dust for fans.
A spot-on run-through of (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding doesn’t replace Costello’s rendition, nor is it trying to – but it fits with both the power and passion of this band, if anything it’s an obvious reference point.
The moody intro to Cemetery In My Mind – True Believers Blind Version would work as standalone instrumental, there’s a rustic blues tinge to The Real Thing and The Last Of The Diggers would sit in line nicely with Jimmy Sharman’s Boxers and King of the Mountain.
I like the probing, almost Bad Seeds-esque feel to Heaven and Earth, the shimmering ballad You May Not Be Released and Land, a palinode or prequel of sorts to Put Down That Weapon.
There’s a lot to like here, nothing that would turn you onto the band if you weren’t already familiar, and at 78 minutes this is long-haul listening. But it’s great to hear the quality of these cuts, nothing here feels over or under-cooked; it’s all as good – or nearly as good – as the songs that made it to the records. Quality control was high with this band. Further proof rests here.