Melbourne five-piece Uncanny X-Men started out as a hard-edge guitar pop band that built-up a strong following on the pub circuit. Fronted by the hyperactive, mischievous Brian Mannix, the band became known for its comic send-ups of other well-known artists. As more commercial concerns beckoned, the band began to temper its sound and approach, which resulted in a series of catchy hit singles.
Mushroom Records signed Uncanny X-Men towards the end of 1982. The band recorded a live-in-the-studio mini-album, 'Salive One! which appeared in November. As the record sat at #15 on the Melbourne chart, Uncanny X-Men supported US visitors Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on tour. In early 1983, John Kirk replaced original bass player Steve Harrison. Skyhooks' Greg Macainsh wrote and co-produced (with David Briggs, ex-Little River Band) Uncanny X-Men's debut single `How Do You Get Your Kicks?'/`Superhero' (March 1983). `How Do You Get Your Kicks?' reached the Melbourne Top 20 (#17) in April. A couple of months later, Craig Waugh (ex-Primal Tears) replaced Nick Manthandos on drums. The band's second single, `Time Goes So Fast'/`Up to You' (September), peaked at #31 in Melbourne during November. The band spent most of 1984 on tour, only releasing one record, the 12-inch EP Beach Party (July) which contained `Everybody Wants to Work'.
1985 proved to be Uncanny X-Men's biggest year with the national success of their debut album 'Cos Life Hurts (#2 in June) and three hit singles, `The Party'/`The Slug' (#17 in March), `50 Years'/`Best Looking Gut' (#6 in June) and `Still Waiting'/`Time Goes So Fast' (live) (August). Ron Thiessen left the band in early 1986 to join Kings of the Sun. Joey Amenta (guitar; ex-Taste, Redhouse, Russell Morris Band, Wendy and the Rocketts) helped out temporarily until Brett Kingman (ex-Adventure) took over full-time. Uncanny X-Men signed a new deal with CBS which resulted in the album What You Give is What You Get! (#11, November 1986) and the singles `I Am'/`Treat Me Nice', `Children' (#10 in May), `Don't Wake Me'/`Truckin' on into Alice' (September), `Nothing Touches My World'/`Playing the Titanic' (January 1987) and `Start Believing'/`Sullivans' (June). Kingman and Amenta shared guitar duties, and session players on the album included Andy Thompson (sax) and Michael Caruna (keyboards). By the end of 1987, Uncanny X-Men had run out of steam and the band parted ways.
Mannix, Kingman and Waugh recruited new bass player Derek O'Leary and formed the short-lived Dead Legends. In 1990, Mannix performed in the stage play Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom, along with Daniel Abineri, Nadine Garner and Wendy Stapleton, and appeared on the soundtrack album. At the end of the year, he issued a self-titled solo album which produced the single `Beautiful People'. He also kept busy singing in a number of Melbourne pub bands like The Bang Gang and The Atomic Dining Club. Of the other Uncanny X-Men members, Chuck Hargreaves joined Daryl Braithwaite Band, Kingman joined James Reyne Band, Daryl Braithwaite Band, Gas and Bigger than Jesus and Waugh joined Horsehead.
In April 1998, Brian Mannix reformed the Uncanny X-Men for a series of gigs around Melbourne. The reformation coincided with the reissue of the ‘Cos Life Hurts album on mid-price CD. The band also appeared at the Telstra Concert of the Century/Mushroom 25th anniversary during November.
With interest in the fondly remembered ABC-TV music show Countdown continuing into the late 1990s, Mannix wrote and directed the stage production, Countdown: The Musical Comedy, starring Michael Veitch as Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum and Gavin Wood as himself. The show premiered in November 1998, and was a loving and funny tribute to the Countdown era. It may have been shameless nostalgia, but with Veitch perfectly cast as Molly it was a hell of a lot of fun.