Monday, August 27, 2007

Men at Work, Business as Usual

When I was just a wee duffer, say ten years old or so, I thought that Men at Work was the greatest thing to hit the music scene ever, save maybe for Bruce Stringbean. With their catchy, slick melodies and songs about that imagined land of Australia, they had the pop hooks to bring home a far-off world. I must have spent hundreds of hours with this cassette in my Emerson portable tape player (we were too poor for me to have a real Walkman). Hell I even got their other stuff, including Two Hearts, making me one of maybe five people on the face of the earth that picked up the band's final album. Well time went on and like much of the new wave music of the 80's, Men at Work fell by the wayside.
I picked up a copy of Business as Usual on vinyl some time ago, and last night dropped the needle on it and must say that this is one of the finest pieces of 80's pop produced. All these years since it has not only held up, but rather increased in relevance. These five lads whipped up a rockin' new wave sound that wasn't really a product of the slick, synth-heavy times but rather combined elements of that era with a solid pub-rock foundation and great songwriting. Besides the great hits "Who Can It Be Now", "Down Under", and "Be Good Johnny", great songs themselves, the deep tracks really hold their ground, even stand out. I always dug "I Can See it in Your Eyes" as a kid and this one still holds its ground, same for "Touching the Untouchables". And "Down by the Sea", played on a decent mid-fi/modest hi-fi setup, has a touch of ambience to it that really carries it home. I have sort of meant to catch up on frontman Colin Hay's solo career, and with this reintroduction to his early, stellar work I just may need to follow through. This is a five star record.