Sunday, March 24, 2013

Men at Work - Overkill

Most ERV readers will remember (or have heard of) Men at Work -- the Australian band that seemingly came out of nowhere to become international recording stars in 1982.  The combination of catchy songs and Beatles-esque videos drove their debut album (Business As Usual) to the top of the charts all over the world.    In fact, as of this writing, they are the only Australian artists to have a simultaneous #1 album and single in the U.S.

Of course, we are not going to feature anything off of this massively successful album.  Instead, we are highlighting "Overkill" from their 1983 Cargo album.  While Cargo was not as big a success as Business as Usual (what was?) it did reach #3 on the U.S. charts, and "Overkill" also peaked at #3.  Additionally, "It's a Mistake" reached #6, giving the band 4 top 10 singles in 2 years.  Sadly, they would never have another top 40 album or single, as the follow up to Cargo, 1985's Two Hearts, did not do as well, and the band broke up soon afterwards.

Several of the member of the band remained in the industry, most notably lead singer Colin Hay, who has had some success in recent years with a more folk driven sound.  In addition, Hay and original member Greg Ham (keyboards, saxophone, flute) performed at reunion concerts prior to Ham's death in 2012.

The original video:

By the way, is it just me, or is this a surprisingly reflective and sad song for a band who just sold a gazillion copies of their debut album?

The outstanding acoustic version of the song (by Colin Hay) was featured on the TV show Scrubs, and appeared on Hay's cleverly titled 2003 solo album, Man @ Work.  It is a great reinterpretation of the song, and well-worth a listen:

Cool trivia fact:  Men at Work is yet another band that may have been jinxed by the "best new artist" curse, as they won the 1983 Grammy for Best New Artist.  For more on this, check out previous posts on the BoDeans and Michael Penn.

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