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Old 01-13-03, 10:06 PM
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Beloved Australian band's debut album, 1982's BUSINESS AS USUAL (with "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under") and 1983's CARGO (with "Overkill," "It's a Mistake" and "Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive") receive 20th anniversary honors Expanded editions each include multiple bonus tracks non-LP U.S. and Australian single B-sides and live material, some previously unreleased in U.S.

New liner note essays by Rolling Stone's David Wild shed light on Men At Work, as both titles are set to arrive in stores February 11th on Columbia/Legacy "It just seemed like there was this groundswell. There was a bit of a tidal wave happening and we felt like we'd ride this as far as it was going to go, but actually where it was going to end up, we weren't really quite sure." Colin Hay, as told to David Wild

At a critical moment in the early '80s when Mad Max and Gallipoli threatened to eclipse Australia's contribution to pop culture, and a stampede of never-before heard Antipodean bands were beginning to rear their pointy little heads and beg for attention only one group arose to grab hold of the brass ring and carry it home. 20 years after Men At Work achieved their place in chart history with the first debut LP ever to lead off with two consecutive #1 singles ("Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under") the band's infectious lure still evokes vivid memories. Expanded editions of that debut album, 1982's BUSINESS AS USUAL, and its successful follow-up, 1983's CARGO, each containing multiple bonus tracks variously comprising non-LP U.S. and Australian single B-sides and live material, some of it previously unreleased in the U.S. or making its first appearance on CD outside of Australia, will arrive in stores February 11th on Columbia/Legacy, a division of Sony Music.

"It may be hard to believe now," writes David Wild, whose newly-commissioned liner note essays complement each expanded edition, "but once upon a more quaint time, millions of young music fans worried not about the latest bloody rap wars or bloodless boy bands, but about what the hell went into making a 'Vegemite sandwich' the taste treat memorably mentioned in Men At Work's Aussie-themed smash, 'Down Under.'" Wild's notes are based on fresh interviews with Men At Work's founding singer and primary songwriter Colin Hay.

It was early summer 1982 when U.S. radio stations received the first mysterious copies of a white label 12-inch with no identification other than a hand-scrawled sticker asking "Who Can It Be Now?" Men At Work had taken shape in early 1979, when the acoustic duo of Colin Hay and guitarist Ron Strykert teamed up with drummer Jerry Speiser, bassist John Rees, and multi-instrumentalist Greg Ham, whose voicings on saxophones and flutes gave the band its trademark sound; his scope grew to include keyboards, harmonica, guitar, Vocorder, and programming. After paying dues around Melbourne's cutthroat pub scene they were signed to CBS Records and hooked up with American producer Peter McIan. They detonated Oz pop in early '82, as BUSINESS AS USUAL went #1 for 10 weeks, beating a record held since 1980 by Split Enz's True Colours. American invasion plans for summer '82 were soon being made.

In July, Men At Work bulleted onto U.S. charts. In its first year of broadcast, MTV provided ardent support for the group's quirky, oddball promo videos, starting with "Who Can It Be Now?" On October 30th, the song rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, as Men At Work concluded a series of sold-out dates opening for Fleetwood Mac. One week later the second single hit the Billboard chart, "Down Under," and Men At Work had the distinction of enjoying two songs crowded together in the upper reaches of the Hot 100. A week after that, BUSINESS AS USUAL followed suit on the album side, hitting #1 where it would stay put for the next 15 weeks beating the 13-week record for a debut LP held by The Monkees since 1967. Subsequently for two glorious weeks in January 1983, Men At Work owned the #1 single and #1 album in the U.S. and U.K., a simultaneous Trans-Atlantic feat previously achieved only by the likes of the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. Men At Work's album was on its way to a 90-week chart run in the States, and sales that eventually reached 6-times platinum here and 15 million internationally.

"Be Good Johnny" was still holding strong at #3 in January on Billboard's new Album Rock chart (launched less than a year before). Small wonder that, at the Grammy ceremonies on February 23rd, Men At Work walked away with the Best New Artist award; in turn, Canada honored them with a Juno award for International LP of the Year. Had it not been for Michael Jackson's Thriller taking over at #1 on February 26th (start of its 37-week run!) who knows how many weeks BUSINESS AS USUAL would've spent at the top?

In April 1983, Men At Work's 3rd U.S. single showed up on the chart, "Overkill," heralding their 2nd album issued a couple of weeks later, CARGO. Both the single and LP made it as high as #3.Solid headliners in North America by now (they played the US Festival in California in May), Men At Work were bedazzled by the presence of both their albums inside the American top 10 at the same time. "Overkill" was followed by "It's a Mistake" (which peaked at #6 on the Hot 100), "Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive" (#28 on the Hot 100 and #12 at Album Rock), and into the summer "High Wire" (#23 at Album Rock).CARGO was eventually certified triple-platinum and spent a respectable 49 weeks on the U.S. chart; it wasn't until spring 1984 that the two albums gracefully left Billboard.

The fact that Men At Work did not return with their 3rd album (Two Hearts) until the summer 1985, took its inevitable toll on their popularity. In the interim, personnel changes and other internecine turmoil left their scars. The third album didn't live up to expectations and the band eventually went their separate ways. Colin Hay immediately took the reins of his solo career, releasing the moderately successful debut Looking For Jack in 1987, with a single and video ("Hold Me") that broke the Hot 100.In the decade that followed, he released several more solo albums, each as intriguing and unique as Hay himself. A magnetic personality, he has appeared in more than a dozen films and television series over the years, ranging from "JAG" and "The Larry Sanders Show" to a singing voice in The Country Bears.

In 1996, Colin Hay and Greg Ham were asked to reunite Men At Work for the band's first concert performances in over a decade. In conjunction with the tour, Columbia/Legacy compiled Contraband: The Best of Men At Work, a 16-song collection featuring a live version of "I Like To," never before on CD, originally the B-side of "Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive." The collection has become a catalog staple, with sales of nearly a half-million copies to date.

The '96 tour yielded the first live album of Men At Work's career, Brazil: Greatest Hits Live! The limited-edition import CD went gold there and prompted a return trip in September-October 1997, taking in Brazil, Peru, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Mexico City; plus more shows through December. August 1998 finally saw the U.S. release of Brazil on Columbia/Legacy, bolstered by a newly-recorded studio track, "The Longest Night."

Two decades after they took the world by storm, Men At Work still has fans around the world fantasizing about a place where "women glow and men chunder" and where a schoolbox lunch consisted of a "vegemite sandwich."VH1 Classics recently named BUSINESS AS USUAL one of its Top Ten Albums Of The '80s and has plans to air an hour-long special devoted to the record, including vintage promo videos and interview footage.

Meanwhile, an unexpected appearance by Colin Hay as a troubadour on a September episode of NBC's "Scrubs" entitled "My Overkill" (performing songs from the album in typically bizarre situations) sent sales of Contraband soaring. "These songs remain beloved Down Under and pretty much everywhere else for that matter," writes Wild. "And frankly that's hardly music business as usual."

BUSINESS AS USUAL (CK 86609 / $11.98; originally issued 1982, as CK 37978)
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
Bonus tracks:
11. Crazy (non-LP U.S. single B-side)
12. Underground (Live in Brazil 1996)*
13. Who Can It Be Now? (Live in Brazil 1996)*
14. F19**
*- (from Brazil: Greatest Hits Live!, Columbia/Legacy 65732, issued 1998)
**-(non-LP Australian single B-side, previously unreleased in the U.S.)

CARGO (CK 86608 / $11.98; originally issued 1983, as CK 38660)

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
Bonus tracks:
11. Shintaro (non-LP U.S. single B-side)
12. Till the Money Runs Out (non-LP U.S. single B-side)
13. Upstairs In My House (1983 Live in Columbia, MD)
14. Fallin' Down (1983 Live in Columbia, MD)
15. The Longest Night (1983 Live in San Francisco)

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Last edited by bigjim25; 01-13-03 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 01-14-03, 07:45 AM
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I am sooooooooooo all over these. Thanks for the info.

Guess I can finally retire my vinyl.

Now, how about their (or should I say "his") greatly underrated Two Hearts album?
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Old 01-14-03, 08:30 AM
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I have fond memories of these guys just for being in the background during my late teen years. I saw them open for Fleetwood Mac and then one more time in '83 by themselves. Nice, inoffensive lite new wave music. "Overkill" still sounds haunting to me and is a great song. I have the first two recordings on CD, but thought "Two Hearts" was fortunately ignored upon release.

Looking back over the past 20 years I almost don't think of Men at Work at all when digging into Australian rock music. Midnight Oil, Split Enz (Crowded House), Hunters & Collectors, Lime Spiders, Hoodoo Gurus... they are almost all bands I think of before Men at Work. But I have some great memories for sure.
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Old 01-14-03, 10:23 AM
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Screw expanded CDs.

Screw 'em up their stupid asses.

Fool me once with the multiple re-issues of various films on DVD.

You won't fool me again with these seemingly endless CD reissues of classic (well for "new wave," they were) albums.
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Old 01-14-03, 07:10 PM
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Shoot, I might actually have to buy these. I never have been able to find "Cargo" on CD and my "Business" one is the very first CD I bought back in 1989 (!!!) and is nearly worn out. Now if only they'll put out "Two Hearts," which I actually think songwriting-wise was Men At Work's best album. They're a guilty pleasure for me. If only they'll rerun that episode of "Scrubs," too....
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Old 01-14-03, 11:40 PM
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Originally posted by Sierra Disc
Shoot, I might actually have to buy these. I never have been able to find "Cargo" on CD and my "Business" one is the very first CD I bought back in 1989 (!!!) and is nearly worn out. Now if only they'll put out "Two Hearts," which I actually think songwriting-wise was Men At Work's best album. They're a guilty pleasure for me. If only they'll rerun that episode of "Scrubs," too....
In Australia I have seen Two Hearts for as little as $5 Aussie- new..that's about US $2.50.....never grabbed it but now I might.
Cargo I picked up for $10 aussie :-)

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Old 01-15-03, 10:38 AM
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Awesome news!
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