The first real album I owned as a kid was Men At Work's sophomore effort, Cargo. Until that point, my personal collection consisted of Alvin And The Chipmunks (Urban Chipmunk), and random children's music on 45s. The small Pennsylvania town I lived in didn't get MTV, but I was allowed to stay up late and watch Friday Night Videos on NBC every week. I became aware of Men At Work after seeing their video for "Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive" on that program. I received Cargo on cassette as a Christmas gift in 1983. I must have played that tape a million times. The human brain is a funny thing--I struggle to remember what I ate for dinner last night, but I still know all the words to every single song on that album. Men At Work had bigger career hits, with "Down Under," and "Who Can It Be Now?," but my favorite song of theirs has always been "Overkill."
When I was the Music Director for my university's radio station, it was my job to sift through thousands of new CDs to determine which ones were suitable for airplay. One night I put on an EP by a band called Lazlo Bane. When you have stacks and stacks of CDs that you're obligated to listen to, you can usually tell pretty quickly if a band is worth your time. Sometimes it takes less than 30 seconds for an album to end up on the junk pile. The Lazlo Bane EP (Short Style) was one of the rare instances where I listened to the entire EP. The very last song grabbed my attention immediately, as I instantly realized it was a cover of "Overkill." They did a fantastic version, and to make it even better, they had Men At Work's lead vocalist, Colin Hay, sing the third verse. He, along with the other members of Men At Work, also appeared in the video.
Years later, living alone in my first apartment, I was flipping through the channels and stumbled across a show called Scrubs. It was being heavily advertised at the time, so I gave it a shot. In the very first scene, I noticed Colin Hay sitting on a bench with his guitar. He proceeds to follow JD around, playing an acoustic version of "Overkill," until his guitar is ceremoniously smashed by Dr. Cox. I was sold. It was the first episode of season 2, if you want to look it up. That's when I realized that Colin Hay was still making music as a solo artist. He's put out some great solo music, and even did an acoustic version of "Overkill" on his album, Man At Work. If you have the chance to see him live, do it. He's a fantastic storyteller and performer.
I started playing "Overkill" live a couple years ago, once I figured out an easy way for my clumsy fingers to play it. When I recorded it, I stripped it down to the bare essentials: guitar, bass, and vocals. No guitar solo, no repeated verse. I truly love this song, and hope I do it justice. If you want to purchase it, you can do so on Loudr, iTunes, or Amazon.