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Music / Mental As Anything

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Mental As Anything [l-r]: Reg Mombassa, Greedy Smith, Martin Plaza, Wayne DeLisle, Peter O'Doherty.
"Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up"
Mental As Anything, "Live It Up"

Mental As Anything are an Australian new wave pop/pub rock band that formed in 1976 and continued playing to the late 2010s. Beloved by local fans for their fun, quirky, infectious style, clever lyrics, and humourous video clips, they achieved twenty Top 40 singles on the Australian charts. Their biggest hit, "Live It Up", was also a success in the UK and Europe. Other big local hits include "The Nips Are Getting Bigger", "If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?", "Too Many Times" and "Rock and Roll Music".

Their core line-up stayed the same from 1977 until 2000, when brothers Peter O'Dohertynote  and Reg Mombassa left the group. Several changes followed over the next two decades, with the band still touring and performing regularly.

The last founding member remaining in the band, Greedy Smith, died of a heart attack on December 2nd 2019. He was 63. The group has not been active since.

Not to be confused with the Farscape episode of the same name.

Principal Members (founding members in bold):

  • Martin Plaza (b. Martin Murphy) - guitar, vocals (1976–2016)
  • Greedy Smith (b. Andrew Smith) - keyboards, vocals, harmonica (1976–2019)
  • Reg Mombassa (b. Chris O'Doherty) - guitar, vocals (1976–2000)
  • Peter O'Doherty - bass, vocals (1977-2000)
  • Wayne DeLisle (b. David Twohill) - drums (1976–2004)
  • David Barraclough - bass, vocals, guitar, keyboards (2000–2011)
  • Mike Caen - guitar, vocals (2002–2013)
  • Robbie Souter - drums (2004-2011)
  • Zoltan Budai - bass (2011-present)
  • Martin Cilia - guitar, vocals (2014–present)
  • Jacob Cook - drums (2011-present)


Studio Albums:

  • Get Wet (1979)
  • Espresso Bongo (1980)
  • Cats & Dogs (1981)
  • Creatures of Leisure (1983)
  • Fundamental (1985)
  • Mouth to Mouth (1987)
  • Cyclone Raymond (1989)
  • Liar Liar Pants on Fire (1995)
  • Garàge (1998)
  • Beetroot Stains (2000)
  • Road Case (2002)
  • Plucked (2005)
  • Tents Up (2009)

Compilation Albums:

  • Greatest Hits Volume 1 (1986)
  • Chemical Travel (1993)
  • Best of (1999)
  • Essential As Anything - 30th Anniversary Edition (2009)

Non-Album Singles:

  • "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet" (1980)
  • "I Didn't Mean to be Mean" (1982)
  • "Working For the Man" (1983)
  • "Apocalypso (Wiping the Smile off Santa's Face)" (1984)
  • "Sloppy Croc" (1986)
  • "Love Me Tender" (1987)

"Whoa-oah, the tropes are getting bigger":

  • Addiction Song: "The Nips Are Getting Bigger" and "Splashing". In both cases the personae know their behaviour is bad for them but are unwilling to stop.
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "Apocalypso (Wiping the Smile off Santa's Face)".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The fire extinguisher by Greedy's keyboard stand, in the video for "Rock and Roll Music".
  • Cover Version: "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet" (original by The Reflections); "Working For the Man (Roy Orbison); "Love Me Tender" (Elvis Presley); "Rock and Roll Music" (Chuck Berry).
    • Martin Plaza's solo cover of Unit 4+2's "Concrete and Clay" may also count, as the band would play it at their live shows.
  • Downer Beginning: "Oh by the way Nigel died yesterday".
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Possibly averted by "The Nips Are Getting Bigger". The protagonist insists his solitary drinking binge was "nothing to do with the letter."
  • Granola Girl: "Mr Natural", sung from the POV of a male version.
  • "I Am" Song: "Mr Natural".
  • Intercourse with You: "Live It Up"; "Close Again".
  • Land Down Under: The video for "Rock and Roll Music". The Mentals play in front of Sydney Harbour with a kangaroo, a koala, a sulphur-crested cockatoo, a flock of merino sheep and a ballerina. This is interspersed with clips from Young Einstein, set in rural Tasmania.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "He's Just No Good For You"; "Working For the Man"; "Apocalypso (Wiping the Smile off Santa's Face)".
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Too Many Times" is a bright, jaunty pop song about a post-breakup man who has trouble sleeping and spends his days sitting around drinking alone. Oh, and at one point he takes too many sleeping pills.
    • "Nigel" is a very upbeat-sounding Grief Song about an implied junkie who had been estranged from his openly disapproving parents.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Reg Mombassa has no particular connection with Mombasa, Kenya. He just liked the sound of the name.
  • The Oner: The video for "He's Just No Good For You", which follows the band on a jaunt down a suburban street.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: "If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?"
  • Shout-Out: “Berserk Warriors” is about a turbulent relationship between Viking couple Björn and Anna. In case you miss the reference, the lyrics mention Waterloo.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Let's Go to Paradise".
  • Stage Names: Of their Long-Runner Line-up, only Peter O'Doherty typically went by his birth name. (He was occasionally referenced with the nickname "Yoga Dog", but only sporadically.) Drummer David Twohill went by "Wayne 'Bird' Delisle" until the mid-1990s, when he also started using his real name. He still kept the nickname 'Bird'.
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Peter O'Doherty, "Surf and Mull and Sex and Fun" and "Nigel".
    • On a larger scale, Greedy Smith. Prior to 1985, Martin Plaza sang lead vocals on most of their singles, with Greedy stepping up in occasional numbers like "Too Many Times" and "Spirit Got Lost". Come Fundamental they became more of a Vocal Tag Team, Greedy fronting their next five hits.
  • Xylophones for Walking Bones: "Spirit Got Lost" is full of macabre imagery including skeletons. The video also features skeletons prominently, walking and dancing around. The main riff is played on a xylophone, or an instrument sounding like it.

"And I'm just about to get lost too."