Why Men at Work Struggled With Their Second Album ‘Cargo’


When the second Men at Work album arrived on April 29, 1983, it did so amid nice expectations. The Australian pop-rock quintet’s debut title Business as Usual had been launched the earlier yr and wound up spending 15 weeks on the high of the Billboard charts, regardless of their American label’s preliminary doubt over launching it in any respect.

Actually, Cargo was already within the band’s previous, having been accomplished in the course of 1982 however held over due to its predecessor’s persevering with success. The lead single “Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive” had arrived a whopping six months earlier, and already illustrated that frontman Colin Hay and firm meant to proceed on the trail established by Enterprise as Common whereas displaying a bit of extra texture than earlier than.

“We had been extra subversive than lots of people gave us credit score for,” Hay informed Classic Bands later, noting that their hit single “Down Beneath” was an exploration of the “plundering” of overseas lands and probably not the light-hearted anthem it seemed to be.

Watch the Video for “Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive”

“Overkill,” the second and best-selling single from Cargo, was an instance of the exception proving the rule. Whereas it options Hay’s Sting-like vocals, it didn’t carry Males at Work’s normal reggae touches, as an alternative displaying a reflective, melancholy texture.

“‘Overkill’ was written when [the band] was actually beginning to take off,” Hay said in 2017. “And I believed to myself, ‘Nicely, nothing’s going to be the identical ever once more. We’re not going to capable of stroll in the identical neighborhoods with the identical stage of anonymity as earlier than,’ and I knew that issues had been occurring in a short time. I used to be additionally growing fairly a difficult form of ingesting behavior, you realize? So, I believed I used to be going to have to handle this sooner or later. So there have been just a few issues that had been regarding me, about diving within the deep finish of life with a drink. Was I up for it?”

Cargo hit No. 1 in Australia however solely No. 3 within the U.S., whereas two extra singles – “It’s a Mistake” and “Excessive Wire” – adopted later in 1983. There was little question it hadn’t achieved the extent of success that Enterprise as Common; however then, that might have been one thing of a miracle. Whereas critiques continued to hail Hay’s voice and lyrics, accusations of specializing in two sturdy songs and finishing the job with fillers had been leveled, whereas different critiques recommended there have been no actual hits in any respect.

Watch the Video for “Overkill”

Hay had a distinct concept as to why the album suffered from the sophomore jinx. “I believe we made the basic mistake of releasing Cargo too quickly in America,” he stated. “However we had been being loyal to all our followers. We would been loyal to our Australian followers, ‘trigger our first album had been out for a very long time. We felt we should always launch the second album as a result of individuals needed it.”

Males at Work turned a breakneck-speed phenomenon, however they had been to slam to a sudden halt inside three years. Actually, the bolts had been already starting to pressure throughout the Cargo period, which was their final album to function the basic lineup. Reflecting on their 1986 cut up, Hay admitted: “[I]t was by no means very simple. There have been some very sturdy, underlying issues that we actually did not tackle.”

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