Business as Usual (Men at Work album)

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Business as Usual
Original Australian vinyl cover art
Studio album by Men at Work
Released 9 November 1981 (1981-11-09)
Recorded March–September 1981
Genre New wave, pop rock
Length 38:11
Label CBS / Columbia
Producer Peter McIan
Men at Work chronology
Business as Usual
(1981)
Cargo
(1983)
Singles from Business as Usual
  1. "Who Can It Be Now?"
    Released: 6 June 1981
  2. "Down Under"
    Released: October 1981
  3. "Be Good Johnny"
    Released: April 1982
  4. "Underground"
    Released: 1982

Business as Usual is the debut album of Australian pop rock band, Men at Work, which was released in November 1981 in Australia, and April 1982 in the United States. The group members were Greg Ham on flute, saxophone, keyboards and vocals; Colin Hay on vocals and guitar; John Rees on bass guitar; Jerry Speiser on drums and backing vocals; and Ron Strykert on lead guitar and vocals. It spent nine weeks at the top of the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart from December 1981 through to March 1982. The Australian version had a black and white cover design; overseas releases had a similar design but in a black and yellow colour scheme. Business as Usual was one of the most successful albums internationally by an Australian group. It spent an unprecedented 15 weeks at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 from late 1982 to early 1983; and five weeks at No. 1 in the United Kingdom Albums Chart in early 1983. Business as Usual was also one of the highest selling Australian albums in the early 1980s, with 6 million copies sold in the US,[1] and 15 million sold worldwide.[citation needed]

The first single from the album, "Who Can It Be Now?", was released in Australia in June 1981, prior to the recording of the rest of the album. It reached No. 2 on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart in August that year. The second single, "Down Under", which was issued in October peaked at No. 1 for six weeks. A third single, "Be Good Johnny", appeared in April the following year and reached No. 8.

In February 2010 a Federal Court judge in Sydney found that the flute riff from "Down Under" had been plagiarised from the Australian song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree", written in 1934 by Marion Sinclair. The Federal Court determined that the copyright was still current (Sinclair died in 1988) and had been assigned to Larrikin Music. The judge found that "a substantial amount of the original song" had been reproduced in "Down Under". Larrikin Music had suggested 60% of the royalties would be appropriate compensation, but the court decreed they shall receive only 5%, and only on mechanical rights for the song since 2002, and on future profits.

In October 2010, Business as Usual was listed in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.[2]

Background[edit]

By early 1981, Australian pop rock group, Men at Work consisted of Greg Ham on flute, saxophone, keyboards and vocals; Colin Hay on vocals and guitar; John Rees on bass guitar; Jerry Speiser on drums and backing vocals; and Ron Strykert on lead guitar and vocals.[3][4][5] Hay was the group's main songwriter both on his own, with Strykert, or with other band mates.[3][4] The group signed with the Australian branch of Columbia Records, which issued their second single, 'Who Can It Be Now?, in June that year.[3][4] As record producer they used United States-born Peter McIan (Franne Golde, Serious Young Insects).[3][4][5] The track was one written by Hay alone,[6] and, in August, it peaked at No. 2 on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart.[7][8]

The group had already returned to the studio to continue working with McIan, who produced their debut album, Business as Usual, which included the earlier single.[3][4][5] The second single from the album, "Down Under", appeared in October and was a reworked version of the B-side to their debut single, "Keypunch Operator", from the previous year.[3] "Down Under" was co-written by Hay and Strykert,[9] and became the group's first number-one hit in December – which stayed at the top for six weeks.[7][8] The album was released on 9 November 1981, it entered the top 50 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart in December peaking at No. 1 for nine weeks and appearing in the top 50 for 118 weeks.[7][10]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[11]
Robert Christgau B+[12]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[13]

Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, described Business as Usual: "Aside from the strength of the music, part of the [its] appeal was its economy. The production sound was low-key, but clean and uncluttered. Indeed, the songs stood by themselves with little embellishment save for a bright, melodic, singalong quality".[3] Gerry Raffaele for The Canberra Times felt "[it] generally stays at a high level, tight and jerky, although I still favour the tracks which have appeared as singles ... There is a delicacy about this music — and that is not a thing you can say about too many rock groups".[14]

Accolades[edit]

Countdown Music and Video Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1981[15][16] Business as Usual Best Debut Album Won
"Who Can It Be Now?" Best Debut Single Won
Men at Work Best New Talent Won
1982[16][17] Men at Work Most Outstanding Achievement Won

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1983 Men at Work (performer) Best New Artist[18] Won

Brit Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1984 Men at Work (performer) Best International Artist[19] Nominated

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Who Can It Be Now?"   Colin Hay[6] 3:25
2. "I Can See It in Your Eyes"   Hay 3:32
3. "Down Under"   Hay, Ron Strykert[9] 3:45
4. "Underground"   Hay 3:07
5. "Helpless Automaton"   Greg Ham 3:23
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "People Just Love to Play with Words"   Strykert 3:33
7. "Be Good Johnny"   Hay, Ham 3:39
8. "Touching the Untouchables"   Hay, Strykert 3:41
9. "Catch a Star"   Hay 3:31
10. "Down by the Sea"   Hay, Strykert, Ham, Jerry Speiser 6:53
2003 Remaster Bonus Tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
11. "Crazy" (B-side from "Down Under" single) Strykert 2:37
12. "Underground" (live) Hay 3:42
13. "Who Can It Be Now?" (live) Hay 4:06
14. "F-19" (B-side from "Be Good Johnny" Australian single) Hay, Speiser 3:52

Both live tracks on the 2003 Remastered edition are from the 1998 live album Brazil.

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Producer: Peter McIan
  • Engineers: Jim Barbour, Peter McIan, Paul Ray
  • Cover Illustration: Jon "JD" Dickson

Charts[edit]

Decade-end charts[edit]

Chart (1980–89) Position
Australian Albums Chart[7] 9

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[37] 3× Platinum 150,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[38] 5× Platinum 500,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[39] Gold 10,000*
Japan (Oricon Charts) 266,000[24]
United Kingdom (BPI)[40] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[41] 6× Platinum 6,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ "'Men at Work' Search Results – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g McFarlane, 'Men at Work' entry. Archived from the original on 13 May 2003. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e Nimmervoll, Ed. "Men at Work". Howlspace – The Living History of Our Music (Ed Nimmervoll). White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Holmgren, Magnus; Warnqvist, Stefan. "Men at Work". passagen.se. Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "'Who Can It Be Now' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 24 July 2014.  Note: User may have to click 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:' e.g Who Can It Be Now; or at 'Performer:' Men at Work
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  8. ^ a b Ryan (bulion), Gary (16 July 2008). "Chart Positions Pre 1989 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "'Down Under' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 24 July 2014.  Note: User may have to click 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:' e.g Down Under; or at 'Performer:' Men at Work
  10. ^ Ryan (bulion), Gary (11 January 2009). "Albums Pre 1989 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Business as Usual (Men at Work album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: Men at Work: Business as Usual". Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  13. ^ Rolling Stone review
  14. ^ Raffaele, Gerry (25 January 1982). "Rock Music: Perceptive". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (National Library of Australia). p. 10. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "Countdown Show no.:539 Date: 18/4/1982". Countdown Archives. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Angus Cameron, ed. (1985). The Australian Almanac. North Ryde, NSW: Angus & Robertson. ISBN 0-207-15108-3. 
  17. ^ "Countdown Date: 19/4/1983". Countdown Archives. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Past Winners Search". grammy.com. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  19. ^ "The BRITs 1984". brits.co.uk. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  20. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 9 May 2012
  21. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Men at Work – Business as Usual" (ASP). Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  22. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 9 May 2012. Note: user must select 'MEN AT WORK' from drop-down
  23. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia - Gli album più venduti del 1983" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  24. ^ a b Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  25. ^ "charts.org.nz Men at Work – Business as Usual" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  26. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Men at Work – Business as Usual" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  27. ^ "swedishcharts.com Men at Work – Business as Usual" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  28. ^ "Chart Stats: Men at Work – Business as Usual" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  29. ^ "allmusic ((( Business as Usual > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  30. ^ "Album Search: Men at Work – Business as Usual" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  31. ^ "Top 100 Albums '82". RPM. 1982-12-25. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  32. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1983". RPM. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  33. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1983 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  34. ^ "Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1983" [1983年アルバム年間ヒットチャート] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  35. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  36. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1983". billboard.biz. 31 December 1983. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  37. ^ "Market Leaders Surveyed: Majors Fight Economics with Quirky Rock Originals". Billboard 94 (23): A/NZ–8. 6 December 1982. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  38. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Men at Work – Business as Usual". Music Canada. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  39. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1985". IFPI Hong Kong. 
  40. ^ "British album certifications – Men at Work – Business as Usual". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 9 May 2012.  Enter Business as Usual in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  41. ^ "American album certifications – Men at Work – Business as Usual". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 9 May 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH