Colin Hay Releasing Down Under Without Greg Ham's Flute Solo

25 July 2012 | 12:13 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

Tesltra will license the new version for a TV campaign

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Colin Hay, frontman of Men At Work, is set to re-release the band's iconic song Down Under without the controversial flute solo.

The solo was the centre of a bitter legal battle between the band and music publisher Larrikin Music, who claimed the riff was lifted from classic Australian song Kookaburra. Eventually the federal court ruled in favour of the publishers, leaving the band and EMI Music to pay considerable compensation.

The flute solo was performed by Greg Ham, who died earlier this year.

Today Hay has announced that the re-worked track will be released this Friday 27 July through Compass Records. Communications giant Telstra will also use the track for their television campaign surrounding the Olympics, which will feature Colin Hay.

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The release coincides with the 30th anniversary of Men At Work's seminal Business As Usual record, technically released in 1981 in Australia.

Today Hay said that despite the anniversary, "I didn't much feel like celebrating, because when I ponder 30 years ago, Greg was alive and well, more than well, was thriving. He was, amongst many other things, saving us from dust storms, high above the Arizona desert, on a helicopter trip, on our way back to Phoenix, from the Grand Canyon.

"The pilot deferred to him, as I used to, and asked his advice, because he was intelligent, decisive, and good in a crisis. So, regarding the 30th anniversary of our first and fabulously successful first disc, if I were to celebrate with anyone, it would have been with him, and he has gone. I wish he was still here."

Hay describes the new song as a "suitable version" and licensing it to Telstra "led me to the idea of re-releasing Down Under 2012, (without the so-called infringing flute line), through Compass Records, to re-establish the song in the consciousness of the public, and in so doing, highlight that the power and strength of the song, lies in its original words and music. It speaks for itself.

"The song is ultimately about celebration, what you feel inside, what has a ring of truth to it. I am proud to have co-written this song, happy that people still like singing along to it, and that they will continue to, long after I'm gone. I am also proud of Greg Ham, he was my friend, and in the end, that's all that really matters."

The Down Under 2012 EP will be released through iTunes exclusively, with a live and acoustic version of the track, while the single will be available digitally through Compass Records.