The 1981 album BUSINESS AS USUAL was an immensely huge album for the Melbourne, Australia Rock band Men At Work, so much so that the album spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD album chart, their first single, “Who Can It Be Now?” went to No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and their second single from the album, the No. 1 smash “Down Under,” had just dropped off the BILLBOARD Hot 100’s Top 40 the week of April 9, 1983. Not missing a beat, Men At Work blasted onto the Hot 100 that same week at No. 28 with the first single from their second album, CARGO, “Overkill.”
“Overkill” was released a month before CARGO, and in early June 1983, it spent a week at No. 3 on the Hot 100. “Overkill” prolly would have gone to No. 1 here in the U.S., had it not been for the stranglehold on the top 2 spots by David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Irene Cara’s “Flashdance…What A Feeling.”
Around the globe, “Overkill” reached the Top 10 in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy and Norway. It would be the last global Top 10 hit for the band, though they would reach the U.S. Top 10 one more time with a Cold War Classic, “It’s A Mistake.”
Tonight (4.21.2016) I am going to see Men At Work’s Colin Hay perform for the third time since 2008. For some reason, Colin manages to come up to Maine around this time of year, not that I’m complaining. On the contrary. I’d see him perform all the time if I could.
The first time I saw Colin perform was in early May 2008 at a venue in my Dad’s hometown of Lewiston (the third-largest “city” in Maine). The venue was called The Maple Room, and it was exactly what the name suggests – a 95-seat room. The first words out of his mouth were, “I love coming to a town that’s totally fucking drunk.” It just got better from there. The show was intimate, just Colin and his guitar, the room’s acoustics were amazing and he was absolutely fantastic. His song, “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” nearly moved me to tears. I was able to meet Colin after the show, he was very accessible and he signed my copy of BUSINESS AS USUAL.
“Overkill” is a song Colin will most likely perform live at the show tonight; a song I’ve loved for more than 30 years, and a version I’ve heard in an acoustic setting since Colin performed this song on SCRUBS in 2002.
I had fallen in love with SCRUBS during its first season (my third-favorite show ever), and for the second-season opening episode, I saw someone playing a guitar in the first part of the episode that resembled Colin Hay, but wasn’t sure until he started playing an acoustic version of “Overkill.”
Guest-starring as a troubadour on that episode of SCRUBS, Colin and his music would appear on the show several more times in the show’s run. Colin Hay also contributed a song on the soundtrack to the directorial debut of SCRUBS star Zach Braff’s 2004 film, GARDEN STATE. The soundtrack won a Grammy Award and sold over a million copies.
In addition to his fine solo live performances, Colin Hay is also a great storyteller. I very much look forward to seeing him again, and to see him perform “Overkill.” To some, Colin Hay might seem like a ghost and fade away for a few years before returning to Maine again, but to me, he and his music (with or without Men At Work) will never fade away…