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Men At Work

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 phenomena of new wave.

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, which released "Who Can It Be Now?" by the end of the year. The single became a 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.

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 U.S. Festival with the Clash and the Stray Cats, Men at Work took an extended break in 1984, which caused Speiser 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 1996, recording the live hits collection Brazil on tour in South America that year; the album (including a newly recorded bonus studio track) was released in the United States two years later. In subsequent years, Hay and Ham along with guest musicians resurrected the Men at Work name for occasional live appearances. On April 19, 2012, Ham was found dead in his home in Melbourne's Carlton North suburb; he was 58 years old. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Contraband: The Best Of Men At Work

1. Who Can It Be Now?

2. Down Under

3. It's A Mistake

4. Hard Luck Story

5. Still Life

6. Underground

7. Upstairs In My House

9. High Wire

10. Maria

11. Be Good Johnny

12. Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive

13. Overkill

14. Man With Two Hearts

15. Snakes And Ladders

16. Down By The Sea

x

Track List: Cargo

1. Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive

2. Overkill

3. Settle Down My Boy

4. Upstairs In My House

5. No Sign Of Yesterday

6. It's A Mistake

7. High Wire

8. Blue For You

9. I Like To

10. No Restrictions

x

Track List: Business As Usual

1. Who Can It Be Now?

2. I Can See It In Your Eyes

3. Down Under

4. Underground

5. Helpless Automaton

6. People Just Love To Play With Words

7. Be Good Johnny

8. Touching The Untouchables

9. Catch A Star

10. Down By The Sea

Comments

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Don't read this you will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life tomorrow will be the best day of your life now you've started don't stop this is so freaky but if you you read this and ignore it you will have bad luck put this on 15 songs in 144 mins when your done push the space bar and your crushes name will appear in big letters on the screen this is so freaky it actually works.
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love it down in oz land
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Great 80's band! Who Can It Be Now is a GREAT song and actually has more to offer than just 80's, New-Wave, catchiness. The lead singer was on an episode of Scrubs and I was happy to see that I wasn't the only person to remember Men At Work but also appreciate them.
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Real makes u want 2 go 2 the land of Oz
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The musics pretty good but not my favorite
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makes us want to go to the land of Oz
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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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Land down under rocks
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kimready46
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my s**t over here doing the two step
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cherokeeprin c e s s 1 2 7
❤❤❤❤❤❤
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤
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One my favourites brings so many memories
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Loved these guys.
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#WhoCanItBeK n o c k i n g A t M y D o o r ?
GoWayDontCom e R o u n d H e r e N o M o r e .
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Scrubs
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smcguern
The
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1982. Damn so long ago now. Remarkable the details a fun little song can bring back up.
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LOVE DOWN UNDER! One of my favorite song
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Toto has always played with heart and soul,their songs have meaning.
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mysteriousst r a n g e r s 8 6
❤❤❤❤❤
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This men are doing a good job
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Sweet sax ��
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I've only listened to "Down Under," but I love their voices! <3

Excited to listen to more of their music!
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Now this is some real music ��
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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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I loike the cowboys
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Good times no worries BMX around the neighborhood with the guys and coming home for dinner and out the door for more fun smelling like a lawn knees with grass stains and cool aid stain lol great times never forget them ,kids now are missing being a real kid getting dirty sweaty lol
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❤❤❤❤❤
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please follow me
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All of this great music brings back memories from way back to music that was soooo good actually be so weird sometimes (or most of the time) but great, great great. My wife opened my eyes to most of it and it's been great remembering her tonight. She left this world way to young. Miss ya Marty!!!!
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daniel.spang l e r 0 1
This was the first album my parents bought me for Christmas waaaay back in 1982...I was 13. Little did they know what Pandora's box they opened. Music became my life, especially anything considered "new wave". This band started it all!! Such great memories. :-D
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mdanfang4
Down Under...Awes o m e ! ! ! ! Follow 4 follow
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Jfgh gu
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❤❤❤❤❤
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It's A Mistake (Live) sounds like it has a skip in it! It's a mistake?
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Who can it be now is most best song. Sweet sax m8!
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Vegemite is actully made from Caterpillar paste
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favorite song of all time land down under
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One of the greatest songs of the 80's.
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love the song down under!!
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Great music!
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Umm
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R u a jazz band?
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vegastar179
HOW TO GET SOME TO NOT CAME AROUND!
GET OFF MY HOUSE I HAVE A GUN 10 sec DONT EVER CAME A ROUND
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Check out Colin Hay's solo work. Fantastic! (But don't expect sunny pop music.)
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al.moreno2
Great band! Love all their music
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yum Vegemite -_-
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One of the
Best New Wave band to hit the US shores
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What? no mention in the bio of Larikin Records' shameless cash grab at MAW's expense?

I recall thinking that it was kind of funny how the yanks loved a band singing about coming from Australia... way cool!
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