Men At Work – “Business As Usual” (1981)

Was I even aware of Australia in 1981, other than as a spot on a map and the place where kangaroos come from? Probably not. In the pre-internet age my entire exposure to the nation (and continent…) would have likely come from issues of National Geographic, nature shows, and the zoo.

AC/DC certainly kicked down the door and forced American music fans, or at the very least rock fans, to reckon with the land Down Under. But I don’t think there was much else coming from there when Men At Work blew up the charts with Business As Usual (Radio Birdman, but they were pretty obscure…), a record that yielded not one but two #1 US hits. The videos were all over MTV – you couldn’t escape “Who Can It Be Now?”, “Down Under”, and “Be Good Johnny”. They also introduced vegemite to the vernacular, even if none of us had any idea at all what it was. The most intriguing song, however, might be the very new wav-ish “Helpless Automaton”, a song I’ve probably never heard prior to today – uptempo and catchy as hell.