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In keeping with my accidental series on obscure foreign bands/songwriters, I happened upon Colin Hay(formerly Colin James Hay) the other day. He was the frontman/guitarist for Men At Work, which had the shortest discography of a grammy award-winning supergroup I've heard of. They only released 3 albums over 7 years, and only the first 2 really charted. The band was considered aussie reggae/rock, although the reggae part didn't click until I got into The Police and then it all fell into place. I literally melted the first vinyl I had of "Business As Usual" from playing over and over. I would listen to "Overkill", and "Be Good Johnny" while air drumming and singing until I went hoarse. I never considered that any of them would have move on to solo careers until I happened upon a CD of Colin James Hay in a 99ยข bin at Turtle's back in '91 titled "Lookin' for Jack". I was immediately struck interested by the album, though it took me another couple of months before I actually listened to it. When I did, I was taken back and propelled forward at the same time. Mostly the same sound and feel, but updated and more modern. Great album, and I am still saddened that I lost it. A great introduction to a different sort of songwriter/singer. His lyrical style, as well the lyrics themselves, are a little off-beat in a refreshing way. Somewhere after his first solo album he decided to go mostly acoustic, and I think it bettered his sound. He even has acoustic versions of songs "Overkill" and "Down Under" that are as good as the electronic versions. These versions you can hear on differing episodes of "Scrubs", as the writers of the show, as well as Zach Braff, are devout fans. Albums I recommend are "Peaks & Valleys" and "Topanga".

Other down under artists that I love are Split Enz and Crowded House. They are acutally from New Zealand, not Australia; got to have the distinction in, or I may get hate mail. Split Enz started out as a progressive art-rock band in 1971, the year of my birth, and had 2 different phases, the REALLY artsy-progressive phase, and the less artsy, more commercial phase. The lineup included Tim Finn, who later went on to have a fairly successful solo career, and later on his brother Neil, who later started the band Crowded House. The Finn brothers headed up the band during its less art conscious period, and I am more of a fan of the less artsy side.

The band was up-and-coming in the early 80's after the release of "I Got You", off the album "True Colours", which was modest, but fierce, and caught my ear in mid 1984 along with the likes of Depeche Mode, OMD, The Stooges, 7 Seconds, The Vandals, and Youth Brigade. I immediately searched far and wide(as it was hard to find some of their albums) for anything I could find. Albums like "Time and Tide", "Frenzy", "Corroboree"("Waiata" here in the states), and "Conflicting Emotions" were little gems for me, getting too much play in my boombox for almost 2 years straight.

I learned about the breakup of Split Enz in '85 perusing an issue of Rolling Stone in my high school library freshman year, waiting for homeroom to begin. I didn't have long to feel sad, for in 1986, Neil Finn and Split Enz drummer Paul Hester formed Crowded House with bassist Nick Seymour. The band quietly exploded onto the scene with songs like "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Something So Strong", while I was in love with songs like "That's What I Call Love" and "World Where You Live". I haven't been as obsessed with Crowded House as I was with Split Enz, but I suppose that's aging for you. I think that Neil Finn's songwriting matured from Split Enz to the new band, and With later songs like "Into Temptation" I have made many a woman cry, grab hold of my collar(my shirt, not my bondage contract), and kiss me with abandon, amazed and impassioned by my "sensitivity". Thanks, Neil, for all the wet memories. They broke up somewhere around '96, and I didn't hear much about them except for little snippets here and there, such as a song on the Reality Bites soundtrack. Earlier this year I found out that they have gotten back together with a new drummer(Paul Hester, sadly having committed suicide in 2005), have a new album out, "Time On Earth", which is pretty good, did a limited tour, and will be back in the studio soon for a new album in the next year. Sweet.
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