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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

8. I Like To (Live)

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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Great music!
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Umm
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R u a jazz band?
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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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forren6
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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I am listening to it right now. Takes me back.
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Do u come from a land down under??? Klassic!!!!
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I love that song it is great!!
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mickeytheplu m b e r
Wat I mean is I went to see my doter the older 1 we went swimming in this beautiful please there was a se
Te were you cold read the words she read/sing down under
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mickeytheplu m b e r
N
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mickeytheplu m b e r
I love this song I went to go see my doter the older wo
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great song
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passes out vegemite.
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Now Playing: It's A Mistake by Men At Work on '80s FlashBACK! Radio (Hits1 Radio Network)
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These guys are amazing.
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Love this group.
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troykeller88 7 8
Always loved Men At Work Down Under
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Kangaroo
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follow me please
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One my favorite songs down under
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Love this band. Too bad their videos were so bad but such were the times.
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Nice
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There's nothing wrong with my state of mental health,,,lea d singer had that wondering eye,trippy,, I have this album really good, one of my top 80's jams fosho
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Who can it be now?
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Can you here can you here the thunder..
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The eighties will live on forever
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Philly
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Oh the 80's. I could have stayed there forever
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Reminds me of the easier days of life.
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Awesome!
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sandymcleod1 7
AWESOME BAND
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I was a rock star in the 80's...or at least I lived like one
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So why cant go back to the eighties and have songs like this again!! Awesome time!
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shannon3824
vegemite sandwich. look it up
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He just smiled and gave me a bite of his sandwich.
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One of my all time favorite songs, Down By The Sea
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I don't know who is knocking on your door but they're probably from the land down under
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johovas witness knocking at my door go a way don't come round here no more
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LIKE !!!!!!
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Men at work, Toto, Police, 80's were Da Bomb!!!
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jonathan6909
This is the only music
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I love the song Be Good Johnny too!!
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The 80,s were the best years.
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nothing but good memories from an era that was much more casual, slower and not SO connected... BIG BROTHER truly IS watching..
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awesome song I love it
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This is music
Show more

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