Hidden 'Gems' On My MP3 Player: #8 - Men At Work


What's not to love about this song? When I was growing up we had a neighbour, Ricky, who had an impressive record collection, some of which he'd lend me to tape off and play later (he also introduced me to weight training which forever changed me from Mr Stick to something a little more). One of the albums he sent my way was Business As Usual by Men At Work. I can't say it was my favourite album by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't my least. In short, I didn't mind it, but after Australia won the America's Cup I, along with the bulk of the nation, got sick of hearing the song Down Under. I was amused by the push to install that song as the national anthem as I'd have chuckled each time I'd have seen someone sing the line, "Where the beer does flow and the men chunder" in public at world events. That'd have been a hoot.

The second album, Cargo, came out and I liked it more than the debut, although to say so in public was heresy. You might not believe it but people bagged it something horrid because it wasn't Business As Usual. It was a grown up album, full of serious themes, and it didn't have a quirky pop single lurking on it anywhere. I'd tell people I liked it and that the song Overkill was the best they'd done and I'd get a look like I was the Village Idiot. I knew better though. Sadly the band did one more album and then finally broke up for good (by the time they did the final album I think Colin Hay was the only original member left anyway). They lived on via Down Under, which will forever be sang where ever drunken Aussie patriots gather. Men At Work are huge in Brazil though, for what it's worth.

Flash forward a few years. I've told anyone that'd sit still long enough about this song. I'm sure I've bored people to tears ranting about it. "It's Men At Work all grown up," I'd say, to yawns and whispers of, "Please, for the love of God, change the record!" But nope, I just couldn't let it go. The relative failure of both the song and the album convinced me beyond doubt that the majority of people in the world are idiots, pure and simple. Why? Because they don't like this song or, if they did, they kept it to themselves. Clowns!

The Scrubs came along. In one of the funniest things I've seen in a brilliant series (Channel 7 would actually win ratings if they showed Scrubs instead of the ultra boring and insipid Grey's Anatomy, or the equally as crap Ugly Betty both of which are prime time here in Australia while Scrubs is moved from time slot to time slot and is buried in various 1am spots) Colin Hay popped up as a figment of J.D.'s imagination, resulting in a showcase performance of, you got it, Overkill! The episode was even titled, My Overkill. I was overjoyed that someone, somewhere, in a position of power even, loved this song as much as me. Since then it's had a second coming, so to speak, and is finally getting the attention it rightly deserves.

This is a magnificent song. Don't believe me? Have a listen and find out. It's as perfect a song as Colin Hay ever wrote or performed, the shame is that no matter where he goes he might want to sing stuff like this but some drunken yobbo will always yell for Down Under. A powerful tune about being lost and confused with life in general, it's a rallying call for me when I'm suffering from insomnia (which is pretty much all the time). At nights, when I can't sleep, it gives me some form of comfort to know that I'm not alone out there, others are singing, "I can't get to sleep" just as loudly.

Here's the song as it appears in Scrubs, just so you can enjoy it as well.


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