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| 19 September 2016 | Reply

July 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
7 ½ /10


Peter Garrett was never made for politics. A passionate idealist, how he kept sane whilst his environmental policies and integrity were constantly sold out in the name of party politics, is anyone’s guess.

Ironically, after resigning amidst the turbulence of the most pathetic era of Australian polutics (sic) – an era where our leaders (such as they are) and their integrity (if you can find any) became ever more one dimensional, spineless and blatantly dishonest – hindsight shows us that his charismatic, pre-politics self is arguably the Prime Minister this country needs more than ever, rather than the scumbags who are actually in the running for the job.

It seems inevitable, then, that he’s come back to music, reforming Midnight Oil (despite vehement protestations by the organisation that that was NOT an option not too many months ago), and finally releasing his debut solo album.

Musically, A Version Of Now occupies the same sort of territory as The Oils. Lyrically there is a treasure trove of snippets which personal and political observers will (and have) leap upon to feed their theories about the whys and wherefores of his political career. To Garrett’s credit, however, he doesn’t use the album as a podium for mudslinging and muckracking – in fact, if anything, he defends his integrity, insisting in I’d Do It Again, ‘I went of my own accord to do what I could/I got my hands dirty I had a go.’ Can’t blame the guy for trying.

Freed of the need to compromise his beliefs and integrity in the name of (what is laughingly called) “the greater good,” Garrett is surprisingly sanguine about a chapter of his life that simply didn’t live up to his aspirations. The closest he gets to commentary on those often dark days is in Tall Trees, stating, “I saw the best of men and I saw the worse/I saw the best of woman too, from governor to nurse” and “While all the glory hunters were basking in false smiles/Twisted egos and ambitions mile after mile/I went to find a quiet place away from the madding mob/To try and make a difference get on with the job and do it again.” It’s cutting, but measured as well, and no doubt after swimming in those murky waters the need for a return to home and family life was strong, hence the inclusion of not only two love songs to his wife Doris, but also his three daughters singing on the album.

Having delivered this very restrained (and very nice) album, and with an autobiographical memoir coming very soon, the time is ripe for Garrett to deliver a proper follow-up (under his own name or as Midnight Oil) that is full of the fiery political statement that he was famous for in his younger days.

Category: CD Reviews

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