Red Sails in the Sunset is a seminal album from Australian band Midnight Oil. It was their first Australian number one and I think represents the best period of the band. The album was recorded in Tokyo and was released in 1984.
Australians will know only too well that the lead singer of the band, Peter Garrett, is now a member of the Australian Labor Party. The decision by Garrett in 2004 to join a coal-loving political party is one which provoked deep disappointment. Left-wing Australians had hoped that Garrett—politically vocal and a staunch environmentalist—would join a more socially and environmentally-concerned party. Alas that was not to be.
The cover image by Tsunehisa Kimura depicts what Sydney would look like after a nuclear strike (or a dust storm as some have already noted). If you know Sydney geography then you’ll recognise the places that have been hit directly: The Rocks (location of a particularly fierce anti-development demonstration in the 70s), Woolloomoooloo (close to the naval base), and Kirribilli (official Sydney residence of the Australian Prime Minister). Whether these locations were chosen intentionally is unknown.
Tsunehisa Kimura was born in 1928. His photomontages, according to the ABC, were popular in magazines of the 70s and 80s and were critical of the Liberal pro-development party of Japan. Kimura was no doubt chosen to create the art for this album because of his strong political beliefs, it is therefore a shame that Peter Garrett was prepared to water down his beliefs for the sake of a career. Perhaps now the more appropriate cover image would be something like the Kimura image below:
Terrible as it might seem to some fans of the band, there is one song on the album that until now I had not heard. It’s called “Helps me Helps You” and contains lyrics that are the bitter reminder of a political hero turned bad:
Hypocrisy helps me helps you
Democracy helps me helps you
Ideology helps me helps you
Put your trust in me
I’ll help you through
Hypocrisy indeed. Now that Australia is in a full death spiral environmentally (Garrett’s Labor party support the expansion of the coal industry), perhaps we need someone like Buckminster Fuller to design us some escape pods. I found the image below on greg.org. The photomontage was created by Bucky and his business partner Shoji Sadao in the 60s. The spheres are “self-contained communities of several thousand people living inside enclosed geodesic spheres a mile wide, which float over the earth’s surface” Just what we might need in the near future.