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by GARRY RAFFAELE
BUSINESS AS USUAL, Men At Work, CBS Records.
JlIST a short while after
Men At Work's first single, 'Who Can It Be Now', entered the charts at. a running pace,
the group visited Canberra.
They played a date at a disco in down-town Belconnen, not at all the place I would have thought was their scene.
Yet so good is this group, so controlled and so exciting, that the smallish crowd forgot the surroundings and leapt around in high excitement.
In many ways, they remind me of Jo Jo Zep (you must remember Jo Jo Zep). Zep had the sound, the excitement and the almost
rfeggae rhythms which Men At Work now use but never really had the melodies.
That Belconnen concert was the first time most of us had heard the new single, 'Down Un der', a most perceptive piece of music.
It is the sort of track which
deserves a strong TV clip instead
of the insipid "performance" which Countdown continues to play.
'Down Under' strikes a chord with every Australian who's left these shores to travel, images of the Ugly Australian.
The album generally stays at a high level, tight and jerky, although I still favour the tracks which have appeared as singles, 'Down Under' and the paranoid's hymn, 'Who Can It Be Now'.
There is a delicacy about this music'— and that is not a thing you can say about too many rock groups. The flute and reeds of Greg Ham do much to further
Colin Hay has, like James Reyne and Jimmy Barnes (Aus tralian Crawl and Cold Chisel), an instantly recognisable vocal sound — and that is rare in Australian music.
They are a superb group. This is an album which reinforces that, after two inventive singles.
The hope is that the next album moves on from here.
REGGAE NOW, various arliiti, Charitma Records released by Polygram.
TaLKING about reggae
— which we were — this here is the real stuff.
In the main it's a compilation album, taking work from other records done by people like Gregory Isaacs, Congo Ashanti Boy and Prince Far I.
The liner notes use the phrase "post—Marley reggae".
Which is not to suggest that this is a reaction against the now dead Bob Marley and his work.
Not at all.
There is much here which takes its inspiration from that
But music moves on.
Reggae even now is a rare animal. It is difficult for a white man to move from rock and roll into the black man's music. Which is strange for someone like me. Because in the 60s it seemed that the black man was putting down the best, the very best rock.
It was straight and direct and I could see its roots and deriva tions.
Reggae comes from a different universe. It comes from a religion which saw an Ethiopian king as god, which sees soft drugs as a legitimate religious tool.
That was the first stage. Then came the second with people like Linton Kwesi Johnson building into the music the rage and the bitterness of black England.
On this album there is a mix ture of both strands.
Reggae is slow music and its rhythm not seeming to come from the Western tradition. Yet give the music some patient hearing and its force and drama will become obvious.
I heard my first reggae in Brix ton, baby, and it was while I, a whitey, was beating as graceful a retreat as possible from a black street into which I had stumbled and from where a group of dread locked young men, black, beau tiful and mean, were suggesting I might not belong.