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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 February 2009
I owned Men at Work's first two albums, `Business as Usual' (`BAU') and `Cargo', back in the 80s. After going on a long musical journey over the last 20-odd years, I was curious to hear their stuff again, and remembering the song titles, settled on this collection.

It's still difficult to be out and about much without hearing `Down Under' somewhere, but this band were far from one-hit wonders.

It's easy to dismiss them, and to be honest I felt slightly worried about writing a positive review alongside my usual praise for way-out psychedelia and world music, but in the case of MAW, their good all-round-musicianship took in styles not just from rock, but also reggae, jazz, and calypso (and more regrettably, when hearing the results, country). Colin Hay's characterful vocals and wide-ranging songwriting add genuine quality and emotion to the better material.

In addition an unfussy, clear production means their first two albums stand the test of time.

True, the band always trod a fine line between originality and duffness, and this means that their songs are either very good or pretty dire.

But there're still 11 good tracks on here, which makes for one very good quality album.

Note that when it arrived my version only contained one disc, with all the tracks listed here on `Disc 1'. But it doesn't matter as, with the exception of `Helpless Automaton', which I recall was terrible but wanted to hear again for a laugh, there's nothing on the reported 2nd disc to be bothered about.

Here, in the order they appeared on the original first two albums, are my selection. After `Cargo' the band's material lost its depth and the production took on a more polished US-rock type feel - it's telling that there's only 4 tracks (none of which I'd recommend) on this 19-track compilation that fall outside those first two albums - there are a full 9 from `BAU'. Talking of which...

`Who Can it be Now''s saxophone riff and low-key backing underpin this portrait of a paranoid recluse.

`Down Under' still had the power to make me laugh - greater exposure to travelling Aussies has given me a greater insight as to why it works so well.

The upbeat `Be Good Johnny' is about a creative young boy being pressured to be normal in a sports-mad society and whilst repetitive it stays the right side of annoying - for me anyway.

`Touching the Untouchables', after a rousing intro, settles into a gritty number about a tramp overlooked by society

`Catch a Star''s middle-eight was a major reason I bought this compilation. The sparse production and lilting guitar create a wide expanse across which Hay provides one of his best vocal performances.

`Down by the Sea' is a 6-minute atmospheric number which is hard to pull off even by a band that hasn't become famous via a `comedy' song, but again the production, saxophone playing and well-worked arrangements, along with Hay's other best vocal performance, managed to make it a fitting way to close the original album.

As for the songs from `Cargo':

`Overkill', finds Hay worrying about Armageddon, and creates a suitably tense feeling with its plaintive saxophone work and gritty underlying rhythm.

After a wonderfully ambient opening, `Upstairs in my House' bounces into your ears and provides one of the band's most uplifting moments. Though less cynical, it reminds me of `Pleasant Valley Sunday' in its depiction of everyday life.

`No Sign of Yesterday' is `Cargo's shorter version of `Down by the Sea', and although it doesn't reach the heights of that track, it's still atmospheric and thoughtful.

`It's a Mistake' is another war-themed number, though more mocking in tone in comparison with `Overkill'.

`Blue for You' - despite the lyrics' flirtations with depression and suicide, musically this is an uplifting calypso/reggae style number. From the way it goes straight into the vocals, to its literally off-beat ending, this track is a really nice piece of work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2009
Well I LOVE Men at Work. I saw some of the 80's video clips and had fun with my children. Actually Men at Work is a success with my kids. Before Midnight Oil ( with all serious politics involved) I think Men at Work is really an insight of how Aussie society changed. Check the back photo of this CD for Uluru Khata Juta. This CD has most of their hits in Aussie land and overseas. You will not be disappointed. There is something about the 80's for pop music that is unique, the tunes seemed plain but they carried a lot of insight messages for daily social life that are not dated as some other pop music groups from the same period are. To quote Sting and the Police - like a message in a bottle. Highly recommended Down Under, Who can it be now? ( my kids love this one); Be good Johnny, Overkill, It's a Mistake; Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive among others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2012
I wanted to replace my Business As Usual vinyl, so I picked this compilation because it also had some great tracks from Cargo, but what a disappointment. Like many modern remasters, the music is highly compressed and far too loud. I went back and listened to the record and it is far superior to this CD.

Business As Usual is a fantastic and highly under-rated album, but I recommend by-passing this CD and trying to get the original CD releases.
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on 16 June 2013
Recently there was an episode of the US hospital-com called Scrubs that featured Colin Hay singing a very soulful acoustic version of "Overkill", which if anything, was better than the album version. The song took me back to the art lesson days of high school where I remember playing the vinyl "Business As Usual" LP on the classroom record player. Fond memories.

So, some thirty years later (where did all that time go in the blink of an eye?), I wanted to revisit some of the songs again and opted to buy this CD from Amazon. My favourites from this band were and still are "Down Under, Who Can It Be Now, Down By The Sea, Underground, Touching The Untouchables, Catch A Star, Overkill, It's A Mistake, Dr Heckyll..." and "No Sign Of Yesterday." I never really cared for the somewhat cheesy "Be Good Johnny" or the rest of the last songs on this CD which is why I can't quite give it five stars. Nevertheless, I'm glad to have it in my collection. The quality of the sound is great.
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on 17 May 2011
Men at Work produced some great songs in the 80's - a kind of Australian answer to the Police. I purchased their first 2 albums 'Business as Usual' and 'Cargo' many years ago on vinyl and this CD seemed to be just what I wanted. It contains all the best songs from these 2 albums plus 4 from their final and maybe not so good third album. If all you remember is 'Down Under' then think again - this is a great album, perfect for the summer and at a knock-down price.
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on 14 July 2014
great CD ! came right on time and in condition as described very good seller ! to be recommended !
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on 11 October 2014
the best collection
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on 2 April 2015
loved it
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