Friday 21 November 2014

INXS Friday - for Michael Hutchence

Tomorrow, November 22nd 2014, marks the 17th anniversary of the death of Michael Hutchence, lead singer of my favourite band INXS.  As I mentioned in a previous post (see here), I can still remember clearly hearing the news on the radio that morning and not quite believing it - he was dead, how could that be?

I was lucky enough to get to a few of their concerts (I'm in the crowd at Wembley Summer XS and Alison & I saw them at The DeMonfort in 1993 (which I blogged about here) and at the NEC in 1997).  We've seen the band twice since (at the NEC again with Jon Stevens and on Clapham Common with J.D. Fortune) but neither worked for me - Hutchence was too integral to the band for it to work without him, I reckon and it's only their pre-1997 music that moves me.

1997.  17 years before that, it was 1980, I was eleven and hadn't heard of them.  Neither had too many other people outside of Australia, though the band formed in 1977 (as The Farriss Brothers).  As it was, INXS released their first single, "Simple Simon"/"We Are the Vegetables", in Australia and France in May 1980, following it up with their debut album - INXS - released in Australia on 13 October 1980.  It was recorded at Trafalgar Studios in Annandale, Sydney and co-produced by the band and Duncan McGuire, with all the songs attributed to the entire band (at the insistence of manager Chris Murphy).  Deluxe Records gave them $10,000 to make the whole album, meaning that to keep within budget they had to record between midnight and dawn (often after playing live shows earlier in the evening).

The album featured "Just Keep Walking" (which was their first Australian Top 40 single) and eventually went gold (selling over 35,000 units) but it took a good few years to do so.

I like the album, with its New Wave-ska-pop style but Alison isn't so keen and she's not alone...

I'm not a great fan of the first album. It's naïve and kinda cute, almost. It's these young guys struggling for a sound. All I can hear is what was going to happen later and it's probably an interesting album because of that. "Just Keep Walking" was the first time we thought we'd written a song. And that became an anthem around town. It's funny, I remember kids in pubs saying it and hearing it on the radio the first time. We'd never heard that before.
- Michael Hutchence,
as quoted in "Burn : The life and times of Michael Hutchence and INXS" (Bantam Books)

17 years ago, Michael Hutchence passed away.  17 years before that, INXS were starting on the road that would lead - for a time - to world domination in music.  It still doesn't feel that far away.

And this has nothing to do with 1980 or 1997 but comes from "Later With...Jools Holland" in 1994, with Hutchence, Andrew Farriss (on piano) and Kirk Pengilly (sax) performing a beautifully stripped down version of "Never Tear Us Apart"

RIP, good sir.

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