Thursday, 12 August 2010
Men at Work: Business As Usual (1982); Men at Work: Cargo (1983)
I bought these two albums when they were first released, and I was callow and had no taste whatsoever. Men at Work were, momentarily, huge, you know. In fact I seem to remember I bought both of them on one cassette, the 1982 debut title on side A, the 1983 follow-up on side B. But then the early 80s passed away, and I became slightly less callow, and developed the impeccable taste for which I am so well known today. I chucked this band, together with a huge quantity of the stuff of my life, into the backward abysm of time, where they were not missed. I hadn't listened to them, or so much as thought about them, in nearly three decades.
Then, on a whim, I downloaded them both recently. Listening to them again, I was surprised by how good they sounded ... very of their time, of course; very much an Australian poppy-newwavey Police-alike. But strong, memorable, hooky pop songs. I don't so much mean the group's big hit, 'Down Under', which jars unpleasantly in my ears after all this time, but tracks like 'Who Could It Be Now?', 'I Can See It In Your Eyes', 'It's a Mistake', 'Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive'. Pleasant, in damn-with-faint-praise fashion. Except, except, I had forgotten 'Overkill'.
How could I have done this? What an extraordinary song. Surely one of the genuinely great pop singles of its decade: melodically inventive, expressive and earwormy counterpointing a frankly amazing lyric about the day-to-day irrational anxieties that plague most of us. Civilisation and its Discontents with a drum machine. Brilliant.
On the other hand ... the cover art to those two albums makes manifest a special category of Suck. What were they thinking?