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ALL ARE DIFFERENT ALL ARE GREAT

A-Z: THE MUSIC INXPLAINED

Welcome, wherever you are, to the first INXS site in the world to detail each and every one of their released songs from A to Z.

This unique band of brothers’ musical legacy spans over 40 years and this site is here to celebrate their hugely eclectic output: the music, the band and the fans.

Inspired by the INXS Access All Areas podcast which has helped bring the worldwide INXS community together, here is the musical history of Garry Gary Beers, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss, Michael Hutchence and Kirk Pengilly.

MH5: BUCKETHEAD

A recurring theme in our A-Z is the undervaluing of INXS’ and Michael’s creativity and eclecticism.

Michael showed his hand very publicly in 1989 after the phenomenal success of Kick by teaming up with underground Australian musician Ollie Olsen to form Max Q. Their one album was full of confident and daring electro-rock giving Michael the creative freedom that he couldn’t quite reach with INXS at that stage of their career; he knew the follow up to Kick would need to be another more commercial effort, so this was his outlet.

Despite the appearance of some up to the minute Paul Oakenfold remixes, Max Q was met with bemusement. This wasn’t what the public expected from Michael, especially with the drastic hair cut and glasses. However, it’s stood up remarkably well and hindsight suggests that, with the likes of U2’s Achtung Baby with its melding of modern rock and electronic music still 2 years away, Michael was way ahead of his time with this project.

Buckethead is at the centre of the slightly inferior second half of Max Q and is a strident electro-rock track with a brooding electro bassline with prominent female backing vocals. Not that INXS were in any way generic with their lyrics, but it’s fairly safe to say “Bones just like guns marching off to bore some sizeable holes in this suit of skin” would not make it on to an INXS record.

MH4: BREATHE

One of the highlights of the posthumous album is perhaps one of its most sensual and dark moments.

It’s the sound of one lover craving the other late at night – and one to listen to after midnight. It bears all the hallmarks of late period Depeche Mode and could easily have sat on any of their later period albums. (In fact their 2001 album Exciter had a track called… Breathe.)

MH3: BABY LET’S PLAY HOUSE

Between 1994 and 1997, Hutch generated headlines for all the wrong reasons. One thing that went by largely unnoticed was how well respected and in demand Michael was as a performer, with many contributions to various events and albums in that period.

Just before Michael started promotional duties for INXS’ Greatest Hits sets and the single release of The Strangest Party, on October 8 1994, he was invited to perform at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis which hosted the first ever Presley Estate approved tribute to the King, It’s Now Or Never: The Tribute To Elvis.

He joined a host of country artists as well as fellow rock and pop luminaries (E.g. Bryan Adams, Wet Wet Wet) to perform oneElvis track each – the concert to be screened worldwide and to be released on a companion CD in 1995. Michael performed Baby Let’s Play House, an early and raw single release from Elvis’ early days in 1955. This more primitive version of Elvis suited Michael down to the ground, who was able to perform the track with a Presley like swagger without resorting to the depths of the Elvis impersonator.

MH2: BABY IT’S ALRIGHT

It seems almost churlish to criticise but one small issue with Michael’s posthumous album is that the production is perhaps a little too consistent resulting in a little saminess across its duration.

Problem is, Saber and Gill clearly knew what sound Michael wanted and were left with scraps of material to piece together to achieve it, so to produce something wildly different would have been a significant risk and potentially disrespectful to Michael’s wishes.

Baby It’s Alright is a solid track but sonically gets lost a little in the middle of the album. However, lyrically this is one of the album’s most heartbreaking . “I’m sick of the dogs outside my window…you’ve been with a hook stuck in me”, “Look at the mess Im making… look at the mess across your face”. These were desperate times for Michael – and Paula – and it’s devastating to see how broken he had become.

MH1: ALL I’M SAYING

This track, written with Bomb The Bass’ Tim Simenon, was one of the highlights of Michael’s eponymous posthumous album.

Michael Hutchence, the album, had a long gestation period and was recorded sporadically by Michael between 1995 and 1997 with Andy Gill and Danny Saber as co-producers. It was never finished at the time of his death so was pieced together and finally released in late 1999. After Michael’s recent ordeals and the relative failure of Elegantly Wasted commercially, the solo album’s release was perhaps always an inevitability had he had lived. Who knows what the finished product had sounded like then but Gill and Saber produced a contemporary, dark pop/rock album with a slight trip hop feel in some of the tracks.

Sadly the album was released with little fanfare by V2 Records and met with barely any commercial success as a result. INXS’ stock was fairly low at this time – much like many similar bands of their era – so it seems V2 gave up before they even began. A real shame as the album deserved better. Fast forward a decade or so and it could have been a different story.

All I’m Saying was a real hidden gem on the set. With Simenon on board, this proved to be one of the album’s more brooding, darker moments. It went by largely unnoticed for 20 years but its worth was realised when it reappeared in more stripped back form on the soundtrack to Mystify, the definitive Michael documentary.

MICHAEL HUTCHENCE: ONE x ONE

It was almost 25 years since Michael Hutchence passed to the other side so we’re going to commemorate this by talking about the music he made without his INXS band mates. Solo work, collaborations, film soundtracks and the rest will be featured right here

197 SONGS ALL DONE … BUT DON’T DISAPPEAR

Below here you’ll find write ups of every single INXS song. But we’re far from done here.

This site aims to be the most comprehensive INXS site on the planet. So we’ll be diving more deeply into the solo ventures of our six heroes, remixes, cover versions and much much more. And we’ll do them all One X One. Stick with it! Back On Line very soon!

197. 11TH REVOLUTION

There is only one INXS track that starts with a number and it’s this Heaven Sent B Side courtesy of Tim Farriss.

This is equally one of INXS’ most lo-fi and heaviest recordings. It starts where Tim left us on his previous B Side – I’m Coming (Home) – with the sound of a lady enjoying herself, shall we say. This is accompanied by some brutal bass followed by three minutes of Tim shredding his guitar to a programmed drum beat – no novelty vocals here.

Despite sounding nothing like the album, it helped set the tone for the next couple of INXS years. These would be heavier and more experimental than perhaps some had been used to.

196. YOU NEVER USED TO CRY

Depending on territory, You Never Used To Cry was released as a B Side to Don’t Change or To Look At You and is therefore yet another long lost track that has never been reissued in any form since 1983.

This is Jon Farriss’ first solo venture – credited as J.J. Farriss on the label – and even though his drums are of course high in the mix, this is a novelty 50s doo-wop pastiche. Jon sings in an somewhat exaggerated comedic high pitched voice, crafted to sound purposefully hurried and slapdash, with a low register doo-wop barbershop style backing.

Thankfully Jon didn’t repeat this experiment and avoided being cast as the comedy drummer. In a twist, the song found itself featured in the 1984 Demi Moore feature No Small Affair and arguably works better in film than on record.

195. WISHY WASHY

No song sums up INXS’ first album more than its closing track. Wishy Washy combines the two sides of this young band in just 4 minutes.

With it’s driving beat and killer riff it’s a great album closer and perhaps the most instant song on the album. Lyrically it focusses on Michael’s disdain for the Australian suburb lifestyle so the musical strength of the song matches its somewhat punk outlook.

There are two moments in the song however that remind us that INXS were still learning their craft. Michael’s cry of “hello cars!” is daft as is the mid song break where the entire band repeatedly chant “wwwishy wwwashy” over a minimal musical backing. And ultimately, for a new wave/punk track, the very phrase “wishy washy” is, well, a bit wishy washy.

But you wouldn’t want to change it. It’s these idiosyncratic flaws that make the first INXS album so appealing today. Unlike today’s musical landscape, bands were allowed to grow and thrive in front of our eyes. A band’s first steps didn’t need to be the final product giving us some fascinating snapshots in time.