INXS - Kick: 25
With 10 million copies shipped in the US alone, we can scoff now at the record company’s cool response when INXS delivered their sixth album. Convinced it would bomb, that its sharp funk shapes would work only on black radio, Atlantic offered the band the cash to go back into the studio and start again. Record companies, eh? Little did they know that, propelled by ‘Need You Tonight’ and that riff, it would go onto be the band's best-selling album by some distance. Here it is again all shiny and re-packaged. Uber-fans should plump for the super-duper version, where 3 discs of remixes, out-takes and b-sides sit alongside a 'History of' DVD and 'The Story of Kick' hardback book.
And 25 years on? For the most part, it’s as loud and fearless and bolshy as it ever was. That said, like much of the ‘big music’ of the era (see also - The Unforgettable Fire and Alive and Kicking), it’s not their best. Five years later, INXS would find find unexpected inspiration and deliver an artistic (but far from commercial) high with the slick but screwy Welcome To Wherever You Are. But Kick, undoubtedly, remains their calling card. You can’t argue with its big guns: ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, ‘Devil Inside’, the honky-tonk piano of‘ Mystify’, the piledriving ‘New Sensation’. All give their biggest hit a run for its money. In the midst of the bombast, Michael Hutchence wets those lips and shakes those hips. We’ll pass, for once, on his untimely death and point you instead to his megaton charisma and irrepressible way with an audience.
Of course, since then, the remnants of INXS have hardly helped their own cause. By continuing with a selection of identikit frontmen since they lost their leader 15 years ago, they remain not much more than a novelty act and resolutely uncool. That said, they were hardly hipster fodder to begin with: not even the most revisionist re-evaluation will chaneg that. No matter. For a short while they were bright and fiery. Nick Cave played ('Into My Arms’) at Hutchence’s funeral and Beck covered Kick in its entirety in 2010. Good enough for those two, good enough for me.