Released: April 29, 1983
Peak: 3 US, 8UK, 3 CN, 12 AU
Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.1 UK, 3.72 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: pop rock/new wave
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 42:21
3.823 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
The Australian new wave band Men at Work debuted in 1981 with Business As Usual. It took a year for it to catch on in the United States, but when it did it exploded. “Who Can It Be Now?” hit #1 in 1982 and “Down Under” ascended to the throne in early 1983. The two songs fueled Business As Usual to the top of Billboard album chart for 15 weeks.
Meanwhile, Men at Work already had Cargo waiting in the wings. They’d finished the album in mid-’82, but held off releasing it because of the success of Business As Usual. When Cargo dropped in 1983, the former album was still riding high on the charts.
The first single, Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive, was released in Australia in October 1982, although it would be nearly a year later before it saw a U.S. release. The song was accompanied by a video which played to Men at Work’s reputation as an act known for entertaining, humorous videos. Greg Ham played a mad scientist who creates a potion that transforms him into a ladies’ man.
In the U.S. the song was preceded by two Men at Work top-10 hits. Overkill was released in April 1983 and showed some more dimension to the band. The song had a more serious tone than the light-hearted pop fare of “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under,” though it dealt with paranoia again, as had “Who Can It Be Now?”
It’s a Mistake also tapped into a more serious vibe with lyrics focused on the mindset of military men and the prospects of nuclear war. The video played up the band’s charisma with a story in which each member move from roles in the working world to unexpected roles in the military, suggesting they’d been drafted. The storyline seemed to be somewhat modeled after Dr. Strangelove, a black comedy film from 1964.
Rolling Stone’s Christopher Connelly wrote that the album “may lack a track with the body-slamming intensity of ‘Who Can It Be Now?’ and ‘Down Under,’ but song for song, it is a stronger overall effort than Business As Usual.” WK All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine said “Overkill” and “It’s a Mistake” had “more depth than anything on the debut” WK but that the rest of the album was “weighed down by filler.” WK John Mendelssohn of Record had little positive to say about the album, other than “Colin Hay may be the most effortlessly soulful pop singer since Sting.” WK
Notes: A 2003 reissue added bonus tracks “Shintaro” and “Till the Money Runs Out,” and live versions of “Upstairs in My House,” “Fallin’ Down,” and “The Longest Night.”
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First posted 9/20/2020; last updated 8/2/2021.
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