This week we have two tracks from Australian group Men At Work- “Down Under” and “Overkill.” We also have the Santana track “Smooth” which was a triple-platinum single collaboration with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty fame.
Men At Work were (and occasionally still are) a rock group from Australia that hit it big with the album Business As Usual in ’81 featuring songs like “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under.” “Down Under” was the second single from the album and was, in my opinion, kind of a strange hit for the world outside of Australia. It opens with the exotic, almost-Steely Dan-Esque strains of jazz flute before breaking into an unusual, partially reggae, rhythm for the time. It also features a lot of Australian slang. Time for a quiz!
If you are suffering from “fried out Kombi” you would...
- Go to the doctor for a topical ointment.
- Call a garage for road side assistance.
- Mix up your favorite hangover cure.
- Send your kid to his/her room.
You find yourself in a place where “men chunder”...
- Grab a mop and bucket.
- Keep a safe distance from men.
- Offer some Pepto Bismol.
- All of the above
The other Men At Work track, “Overkill,” is from their ’83 album Cargo. It’s a vivid picture of insomnia and loneliness that manages to get stuck in my head for weeks at a time at least once per year due to its great lyrics and vocal hooks. Colin Hay still performs this during his (amazing and unmissable) live solo shows. He does a down-tempo acoustic version that is really haunting and incredible. The song is so good that it actually became a joke on the TV show Scrubs. A common device for the show was that near the end of the episode there would always be a musical montage where the main character “JD” would learn a lesson. In the second season episode “My Overkill” when this montage happens it features Colin Hay basically stalking JD with the song. (Watch it here.)
“Smooth” was the first single from Santana’s 1999 album Supernatural. It was a huge comeback for the guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana who was without a label by the late '90s. The famed Clive Davis signed Santana to Arista thinking he was ripe for a comeback and helped him assemble an all-star roster of artists to work with him. The resulting album sold 27 million copies worldwide. Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas won three Grammys combined for their collaboration. In the Billboard rankings of the top songs from the first 50 years of Hot 100 chart it was at number two.