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Men At Work

February 7, 2012 by staff 

Men At Work, Men at Work are an Australian rock band who achieved international success in the 1980s. They are the only Australian artists to have a simultaneous #1 album and #1 single in the United States (Business as Usual and “Down Under” respectively). They achieved the same distinction of a simultaneous #1 album and #1 single in the United Kingdom. The group won the 1983 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and have sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

Colin Hay emigrated to Australia in 1967 from Scotland with his family. In 1978, he formed a duo with Ron Strykert, which expanded with the addition of drummer Jerry Speiser and Australian progressive rock keyboard player Greg Sneddon.

They formed an unnamed four-piece group that would later morph into Men at Work. The band’s first experience in the recording studio was recording the music to Riff Raff, a low-budget stage musical on which Sneddon had worked.

Sneddon soon left, to be replaced in late 1979 by saxophonist/flautist/keyboardist Greg Ham. Bassist John Rees completed the band.

In 1981, Columbia Records signed Men at Work. Their second single, “Who Can It Be Now?”, reached #2 on the Australian chart in August 1981. A subsequent single (a re-worked version of “Down Under”) and their first album (Business as Usual) went to #1. The album also debuted at #1 in New Zealand.

Despite its strong Australian showing, and having an American producer (Peter McIan), Business as Usual was twice rejected by Columbia’s parent company in the United States. Thanks to the persistence of the band’s management, the album was eventually released in the US and the UK six months after its Australian release. Men at Work toured Canada and the US to promote the album, supporting Fleetwood Mac.

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