Sunday, May 18, 2008

Number 498 - Men At Work

Number 498

Men At Work

"Down Under"

Genre:New Wave
art by PunkySuez
Statistical fact: On average, 384 New Zealander's are fleeing to Australia each week to escape the oppression of the governing Labour Party. Why? Because Australian workers are paid 20% more each week. Why? Australians are not as heavy taxed as their New Zealand counterparts. Why? New Zealander's have had a guts full of a Lesbian fascist state determined to destroy fundamental morals. Why? The average price of a house in New Zealands largest city, Auckland, is unachievable to purchase for most working people. Why? Because the average price of a house in any Australian city is achievable to aquire and is realistic. Why? Because people can't wait till November 08 to replace this Helengrad,PC ridden, feminest Labour Party.Why? Do I bother staying here? I DON'T BLOODY KNOW! (thank God for music, mutter-mumble) ~ crowbarred
Who can it be now?
Men at Work were one of the more surprising success stories of the new wave era, rocketing out of Australia in 1982 to become the most successful artist of the year. With its Police-styled rhythms, catchy guitar hooks, wailing saxophones, and off-kilter sense of humor, the band's debut album Business as Usual became an international blockbuster, breaking the American record for the most weeks a debut spent at the top of the charts. Their funny, irreverent videos became MTV favorites, helping send "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under" to number one. Men at Work's momentum sustained them through their second album, 1983's Cargo, before the bottom fell out of the band's popularity. After releasing Two Hearts in 1985, Men at Work broke up, becoming one of the better-remembered phenomenons of new wave.
Go to school today Johnny?
Colin Hay (lead vocals, guitar), a native of Scotland who moved to Australia at the age of 14, formed Men at Work as an acoustic duo with Ron Strykert (guitar, vocals) in Melbourne in 1979. Within a few months, the duo had expanded to a full group with the addition of John Rees (bass), Greg Ham (saxophone, flute, keyboards), and Jerry Speiser (drums). Over the next two years, the band became regulars at the Cricketer's Arms Hotel bar and on Australia's pub circuit, eventually becoming the highest-paid unsigned band in the country. By 1981, they had landed a contract with Australian Columbia, who released "Who Can It Be Now?" by the end of the year. The single became an huge hit, as did their debut album, Business as Usual, upon its spring 1982 release. Featuring contributions by Hay, Strykert, and Ham, Business as Usual spent ten weeks at the top of the Australian charts, beating a record held by Split Enz's True Colours. The album was released in America in the summer, and within a few weeks "Who Can It Be Now?" began its climb to the top of the U.S. charts. In November, Business as Usual hit the top of the charts, where it would stay for 15 weeks. "Down Under" became the group's second American number one early in 1983 and it became the band's first British hit single; the song reached number one in both countries simultaneously. In February, the band was named the Best New Artist of 1982 at the Grammys.
Smiling? Hell yes Im $$
Men at Work's second album, Cargo, had been recorded during the summer of 1982, but its release was delayed because of the remarkable success of the debut. Largely written by Hay, Cargo reached number three in the U.S. and generated the Top Ten singles "Overkill" and "It's a Mistake." Following an extensive tour, during which the group co-headlined the US Festival with the Clash and the Stray Cats, Men at Work took an extended break in 1984, which caused Spesier and Rees to leave the band. They were replaced by session musicians for the group's third album, 1985's Two Hearts. Though the record went gold in the U.S., it was a considerable commercial disappointment, failing to generate one Top 40 single. Following the release of Two Hearts, the band broke up. Out of the remaining members, Hay was the only one to pursue a solo career, but neither of his two American solo albums -- Looking for Jack (1987) and Wayfaring Sons (1990) -- were successes. Hay continued to release albums in Australia during the '90s; he also began an acting career. He and Ham re-formed Men at Work in 1998, issuing the live hits collection Brazil. ~ [Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide]
For Split Enz see Number 618 & Number 671
For The Clash see Number 999
What does Rolling Groan think about Men at Work?
Men at Work are real lowriders by comparison. They have absorbed the sparse rhythmic spunk of reggae and the punchy yet articulate brevity of postpunk pop (the Police, Elvis Costello), and they play with the earthy conviction of a rousing pub-rock band like the Rumour. The group's monster Aussie hit, "Down Under," captures that spirit perfectly. Vocalist Colin Hay strikes a bold, daunting stance somewhere between the high tenor wail of Sting and the smoky gruffness of Burning Spear's Winston Rodney, while Greg Ham throws a real curve with his puckish flute runs. The rest of the album is just as good. "Be Good Johnny" announces itself with a bruiser of a guitar flourish nicked from the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Ham's blowsy sax and the rousing chorus of voices raised in alcoholic harmony spark the rugged boogie of "Who Can It Be Now?" And both "I Can See It in Your Eyes" and "Underground" testify to the tuneful charms of Colin Hay's songwriting. If this album is business as usual for Men at Work, their future in rock is secure. [Source:RS 374]
Rolling Stone deemed "Rainy Night In Georgia" by Brook Benton as their 498th best song of all time. Brook Benton has not appered in The Definitive 1000 Songs of All Time.
For Elvis Costello see Number 876
For The Who see Number 556
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (What do we know?....) the Album ranked at (....We thought Split Enz was from Oz)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 75.2 out of 108

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