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Rock Rewind: Men At Work “Down Under”

Despite their relatively short run, Aussie 80s rockers Men At Work made a huge impact on the music scene of their day. They barely avoided one-hit wonder status in the U.S. by placing several hits on the Top 10, but their two Number 1 hits, “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under” (both from their 1981 album Business As Usual) are the two that most people remember from the band, and the latter (video featured below) was by far their highest charting success worldwide.

“Down Under” has not only become a cult favorite, but its numerous cultural references to the band’s homeland (most notably the references to “Vegemite” and “Kombi”) have made it something of a patriotic hit in Australia. The flute riff is also reminiscent of the Aussie children’s song “Kookaburra”, which actually provoked a copyright infringement lawsuit (the band maintained the similarity was unintentional).

Men At Work released two more albums after Business As Usual, but were never able to replicate the same level of success. Largely due to infighting, the band broke up in 1986; they reunited for a few years in the late 1990s but called it quits for good in 2002. Nevertheless, their short heyday has prompted over 30 million in record sales worldwide. They are also credited as the only Australian act to have had both a number one album and number one single at the same time in the U.S.


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About the Author


Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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