Sunday, July 1, 2007

Men Without Hats

Safety Dance

Perhaps it was due to the full moon or perhaps it was due to the tequelia. I am not sure what it was but across the lake, in the moonlight, I clearly saw, and heard, people doing and singing the Safety Dance.

All right, I might have joined in when I heard it, but in my own defense.

It’s the greatest dance to come out of the 80s.

Men Without Hats were a pop group from Montreal, Quebec who achieved their greatest popularity in the early to mid 1980s. They were characterized by the deep, expressive vocals of their lead singer Ivan and their elaborate use of synthesizers and electronic processing. Their most-remembered single and above video was titled "The Safety Dance".

Men Without Hats were always, at the core, Ivan Doroschuk and his brother Stefan, with various other members, including his third brother, Colin Doroschuk, as well as Jeremy Arrobas, Tracy Howe, Roman Martyn, Mike Gabriel, Jean-Marc Pisapia, Lenny Pinkas, and Allan McCarthy. They emerged with an EP called Folk of the 80's (1980). Tracy Howe was only with the band briefly, but long enough to be credited on a reprint of Folk of the 80s, despite not appearing on it. Pisapia went on to form The Box, and later, Arrobas and Gabriel left to work with him for a while, eventually founding their own group, Isinglass.

A popular but unconfirmed tale is that the name originated from a misread announcement to one of their early gigs as "Men Without Hate" by a francophone MC in Montréal. Though that tale may be unconfirmed there is fact that Men Without Hats first started off in bars as Men With Hats, but they decided to change the name to Men Without Hats as they always threw their hats off at the end of a performance.

The band erupted onto the international scene a couple of years later with their hit single "The Safety Dance" from their debut album Rhythm of Youth. They charted once again with the title track from their 1987 album, Pop Goes the World. The song was also featured in the movie Date with an Angel (1987), starring Phoebe Cates, Emmanuelle Béart and Michael E. Knights. The next album The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century, released in 1989 featured a cover of ABBA's song "SOS".

Their 1991 album Sideways, dominated by processed electric guitars instead of keyboards, revealed a dramatically different sound for the band. The album failed to attract an American label, and the band broke up.

Following the break-up, Ivan released a solo album, The Spell, in 1997. Stefan and Mack MacKenzie (of 3 O'Clock Train) released Ride of Glory, a post-modern Western-themed CD.
Stefan and Ivan regrouped to release No Hats Beyond This Point in 2003.

Studio albums
· Folk of the 80's (1980) (EP)
· Rhythm of Youth (1982)
· Folk of the 80's (Part III) (1984)
· Freeways (1985) (EP)
· Pop Goes the World (1987)
· The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century (1989)
· Sideways (1991)
· No Hats Beyond This Point (2003)

· Men Without Hats: Collection (1996)
· Men Without Hats: Greatest Hats (1996)
· Men Without Hats: My Hats (2006)

Ivan solo albums
· The Spell (1997)

· Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson played flute on the song "On Tuesday" on Pop Goes the World.
· The little person in the music video "The Safety Dance" is actor Mike Edmonds (Return of the Jedi, Time Bandits, Flash Gordon).
· In an episode of US comedy Scrubs, Turk sings 5 lines from "The Safety Dance" while discussing the problems of parenthood with his fiancee, Carla. In this case they are referring to their son wanting to dance instead of playing football with his friends.
· In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer makes fun of the song Safety Dance by singing "Everybody look at your pants!"
· In an episode of Family Guy, Brian makes fun of the band by referring to them as "Men Without Jobs"
· In Futurestock , an episode of Futurama Fry meets another guy from his own time, and they discuss Safety Dance. Fry doesn't think that the dance is safe at all, while the other guy keeps imitating the keyboard part throughout the episode.
· In Bio-Dome, the Safety Dance video is in part recreated by the cast of the movie, complete with the dancing little person.
· The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century featured a cover of Abba's "S.O.S."
· Sideways featured a cover of The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" (subtitled "'No You're Not', Said Little Nicola").
· The Collection and Greatest Hats compilations featured a cover of Roxy Music's "Editions of You"

External links
· Men Without Hats official site

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