Maybe the most remarkable thing about Colin Hay is this: My wife and I both love his music. Me, I was a big fan of Men at Work. I had their first album and all of the 45s associated with it. For you of the MPfree generation, 45s were singles. I’d run down Seventh Avenue to Soundtrack every Saturday with five bucks and score four 45s. The cool thing about them was I’d get a top 40 song–back when top 40 was good–and a lot of the time I’d get a rare B-side that didn’t make the album. And I’d wear the grooves flat, listening over and over. Usually, though, I’d buy either the album or the 45s. Back then, we had to make hard, economic choices about what we listened to. Today, lots of kids get their stuff free. Which is great for artists who want exposure. Not so great for artists who want to eat. But I digress. My love for Men At Work was abundantly evidenced by my having both the 45s and their albums.
My wife, on the other hand, hated Men at Work. She thought it was stupid and simplistic. But when she first heard “Don’t Be Afraid,” off of Hay’s Man At Work collection, it blew her mind. Then she discovered that Hay did the theme song to Supernanny. Further on, she learned that his reworkings of his Men at Work hits on the aforementioned Man At Work album were actually terrific. So, we both like him.
Colin Hay can overcome all prejudice, is what I’m saying, based on the clear and evident power of his songwriting. His last album, American Sunshine, left me a little flat, though. So I was worried about this one. But worry no more.
Gathering Mercury is Hay’s best collection of original songs so far. He takes his time to explore themes of death and family but rather than being morbid, his songs are full of love and hope. And he showcases his amazing guitar playing on the instrumental Goodnight Romeo. Hay’s voice is so distinctive and moving that his ability to craft wonderful acoustic music can get overlooked.
Don’t miss this record.
Order from Compass Records.