After such a phenomenal album as "10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1", Midnight Oil were under a great deal of pressure to produce a following record that was just as good. With 1984's "Red Sails in the Sunset", they not only did this but, in my opinion, surpassed it. This has to be my favourite Oils album, although it is not well liked by some fans. It is most certainly their "weirdest" album, but that is what makes it so good. Certainly at its time of release, it was indeed avant-garde. The Oils made their first and only foray into rap (or pseudo-rap, at least) with the much maligned opener "When the Generals Talk". I love this song; it is Midnight Oil at their most humorous while at the same time putting across a serious message. The album also features some of my all time favourite songs - the acoustically driven "Sleep" and "Minutes to Midnight" blend in perfectly; the first song is about the plight of the homeless, with a wonderfully sluggish beat and bassline; the latter is less tangible, but it is not too hard to distnguish it as a doomsday song, with unsubtle nuclear overtones. "Jimmy Sharman's Boxers" is a true epic. It runs for seven and a half minutes, slowly building up, stopping and starting before climaxing with an intense crescendo, benefitted by some excellent brass. There are actually only a few songs that can be called real Oils-style rock. They are "Best of Both Worlds" and "Kosciuszko" - they are the "obvious" Midnight Oil songs - crashing rhythms and searing guitar work. In fact, I find "Best of Both Worlds" quite boring and unengaging (but I love "Kosciuszko"). It is perhaps because of this new direction, featuring oblique and initially inaccessible songs, that the album is not as popular as it should have been. There is certainly an experimental edge, which started with "10-1" and is now taken to a higher level. "Who Can Stand in the Way" opens with an eerie fade-in, which sounds like a warped synthesiser (but is in fact a guitar being played backwards), before turning into a gloomy but moody song, with an apocalyptic rant from Peter Garrett followed by a sudden ending which is entirely appropriate, given the subject matter. There is an oddity in the form of "Bakerman" - a jolly sounding brass piece that runs for 50 seconds halfway through the album. Positioned as such, it makes for a strange, but fitting, interlude. It is perhaps the end of the album where the "weird", experimental factor is as its height. "Harrisburg", a song adapted from a poem by Denis Kevans, discusses the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, backed by treated synthesiser noises and heavy breathing(!); "Bells and Horns in the Back of Beyond" starts with another Peter Garrett rant, this time about the state of nature in the face of human progress ("a car park bay stretched where the bindis used to be"), before exploding into a surf style instrumental, with pounding drums, Dick Dale type guitar work and the album's obligatory "weird" keyboards. The final song, "Shipyards of New Zealand", is another epic, with shifts, changes, VERY cryptic lyrics, an unusual string arrangement and a loud ending (which is the only real rock and roll part of the song). Yes, the end of the album is where the obliqueness is at his height; if I may quote my fellow reviewer Mr Benjamin B Gould, the songs are indeed "different" and "strangely beautiful". Midnight Oil songs are not songs that can usually be called beautiful - but this is the only way to describe a song like "Shipyards of New Zealand". "Red Sails in the Sunset" is also a very abstract album, which may detract from listeners simply interested in rock. Whereas "10-1" was thematic, this album lacks focus; it is a collection of very different songs. While "10-1" was a paranoid treatise, fuelled by the nuclear threat, "Red Sails" could almost be viewed as the after effects of such an apocalyptic disaster. "Who Can Stand in the Way" and "Harrisburg" are songs of apocalyptic resignation; there is no urgency, but instead lamentation ("Minutes to Midnight" is an exception). The "day after" effect is also enhanced by the artwork - the front cover is an amazing painting of a nuclear fireball erupting in Sydney Harbour. The inner sleeve artwork is just as eerie - including tidal waves and kangaroos perched on top of the Opera House (listen to the end of "Who Can Stand in the Way" and imagine these scenarios). It is a very imaginative and thought provking album that is also excellently produced and engineered. Superb.