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BOOK REVIEW: STRICT RULES: The iconic story of the tour that shaped Midnight Oil by Andrew McMillan

BOOK REVIEW: STRICT RULES: The iconic story of the tour that shaped Midnight Oil by Andrew McMillan
Hachette Australia – rrp$24.99
February 2017
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
9/10

Prior to touring the deep red heart of Australia with the Warumpi Band in 1986, Midnight Oil, Andrew McMillan claims, had little more understanding of the way Australia’s remote Indigenous communities live than most of us city dwellers do today.

It was to be a tour which, as the subtitle suggests, would be iconic, and would shape the band for what they were to become, and remain to this day: iconic patriots not of the white city culture, but equally of Aboriginal values and needs.

Like Midnight Oils’ struggle to acclimatise to the desert, and the way of life of those who lived there, some readers may struggle to adapt to this book -originally published in 1988. Descriptions of life in shanty towns are confronting: most of us don’t want to know that our own countrymen and women are subjected to living conditions like this.

Adaptation reaps rewards, though: understanding and acceptance that we’d never otherwise enjoy. Midnight Oil, to their credit, accepted those differences and turned them into songs, songs which in turn amplified the cries for help that came from deep within the desert, and sent it out into the world, creating awareness and no small amount of change.

Andrew McMillan, amongst the first journalists to take The Oils seriously in the late ‘70s, was diagnosed with cancer in late 2010, sadly passing away in 2012. Oils singer, ex-senator Peter Garrett, pays tribute to him and his achievements in an astute and thoughtfully written epilogue, reminding us that in Strict Rules, McMillan produced an illuminating document of a rock n’ roll band on a voyage of discovery. But more than that, he played an integral role in ensuring a marginalised minority of the population had a voice.

BOOK REVIEW: STRICT RULES: The iconic story of the tour that shaped Midnight Oil by Andrew McMillan

Filed Under: Book Reviews

About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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