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Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Nite Retro

Good evening and welcome to Friday Nite Retro here at Left in Aboite - the weekly feature where I bio a band around videos of their top tunes. Tonight's artists were the only band from "down under" to reach the Number 1 position in album and singles charts in both the US and the UK. They are, Colin Hay, Ron Strykert, Jerry Speiser, Greg Ham, and John Rees; better known as Men at Work!

The boys formed the band in 1978, but finally got their big break when Columbia Records signed them in 1981. Their first single "Who Can It Be Now?" reached Number 1 on the Australian chart in August 1981,a subsequent single, a re-worked version of "Down Under", and their first album, Business as Usual, went to Number 1 as well. The album also debuted at Number 1 in New Zealand.

Who Can it Be Now


You might notice that Colin has a rather unusual accent for an Aussie - he's actual from Scotland. . .

The Land of Under


Despite its strong Australian showing, Business As Usual was twice rejected by Columbia's parent company in the United States. Thanks to the persistence of the band's management, the album was eventually released in the USA and the UK six months after its Australian release. Men at Work toured the USA to promote the album, with headliner Fleetwood Mac.

In October 1982 "Who Can It Be Now" hit Number 1 in the USA. Then, in November of that year, Business As Usual began a 12 week run at Number 1 on the US album chart. By January 1983 Men at Work had the top album and single in both the USA and the UK - a feat never achieved previously by an Australian act.

To culminate a meteoric rise, Men at Work won Australia's first-ever Grammy Award, winning Best New Artist for 1983 ahead of Asia, Jennifer Holliday, Human League and Stray Cats.

Be Good Johnny


The band returned to the studio and recorded their second album Cargo. The Australian market had been starved of new material for more than 12 months, and the new album went to Number 1. The international market, where Business As Usual was still riding high, kept the album at Number 3 on the Billboard chart. The album nevertheless produced four charting singles: "Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive", "High Wire", "It's A Mistake" and "Overkill".

Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive


Circus anyone? Sometimes a man just has to do what a man has to do:

High Wire


It's a Mistake


This is probably my favorite Men at Work tune:

Overkill


In 1984 the band took a long break as members pursued other interests. At the end of that period, Jerry Speiser and John Rees were advised by management that they were no longer members of the band. The remaining members (Hay, Ham and Strykert) recorded a third album Two Hearts which peaked at Number 50 on the chart. One single "Everything I Need" reached the Top 30.

Everything I Need


Throughout 1985 the remaining members left one by one. By the end of that year the band was defunct.Hay maintains a successful solo career. Strykert lives in Montana, continues to play music and is bitter about Men at Work. Speiser, Ham and Rees still work in the music industry.

For updated information on the individual members of the band, see Where Are They Now - Men at Work

Men at Work official MySpace band site - three original band members help run the page

That's a wrap for tonight's FNR - I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as did!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Mary Ellen said...

Wow...I forgot about those guys. One of my daughters used to listen to them, and I remember a few of their songs, but I admit, I didn't follow their careers.

Thanks, that was great!

title="comment permalink">October 05, 2007 11:11 PM  
Blogger John Good said...

ME - Thanks (a tad belated)! =) I sometimes wonder if anyone even reads these "FNR's". . .but I still enjoy doing them!

title="comment permalink">October 09, 2007 9:40 PM  

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