Michael Hutchence, the charismatic and brilliant singer / songwriter / musician and co-founder of my favorite band, INXS, would have been 59 today (1.22.2019).
Michael’s tragic death on 11.22.1997 at the age of 37 was the first celebrity / music-related death that really hit home for me. I remember getting pissed off at the TV that day because there wasn’t a whole lot of coverage about it here in America, as opposed to other parts of the globe. But, mostly, I was upset because he was gone way too soon.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned here on the blog, but 10 years and two weeks before Michael died, I saw INXS at Colby College in Waterville, Maine on November 7, 1987. It was at the beginning of their massive KICK tour, and I was right there in the front row, at least until I saw a friend get picked up and carried off the stage because everyone was crowding the stage. Michael had to tell everyone to move back. And once I moved to the bleachers, I was fine.
Michael Hutchence was phenomenal and amazing to watch. So much energy and charisma. His stage presence was oft-compared to The Doors’ Jim Morrison, and I could totally see why. There was no one out there like him, and no one since. By the end of the KICK tour, INXS had gone from playing colleges like Colby to playing stadiums around the world. Absolutely incredible.
One of the best things I loved about INXS was their penchant for B-sides that weren’t on the albums. I sometimes wonder why some songs made it on to the albums and these incredible B-sides did not. One of those amazing B-sides was the flip side of their huge hit (and worldwide No. 1), “Need You Tonight”: “Move On.” Actually, it was the flip side only in certain parts of the globe, including Australia, the U.K. and Japan. The American B-side of “Need You Tonight” (on both the 7” and 12” singles) was the (also excellent) “I’m Coming (Home).”
“Move On,” written by the primary songwriting team for INXS, Michael Hutchence and keyboardist / guitarist Andrew Farriss (though definitely a strong group effort), tackles the beginning of the end of a relationship, and consistently saying, “you gotta move on.” Many times, a B-side for an artist will be just another cut off the album, sometimes a throwaway track, but with the majority of INXS B-sides, you get something new altogether, and something that sounds like it could have been on an album.
The original 1987 12-song KICK album clocked in at just over 39 minutes. Surely, plenty of room to add some of those awesome album-worthy B-sides, but sometimes the best B-sides aren’t meant to be on albums. Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac” is one of THE BEST B-sides ever, and a perfect example of why albums are flowed and organized a certain way, and as a result, why excellent non-album B-sides like “Pink Cadillac” and “Move On” exist.
R.E.M. and The Cure were among those who were also fans of the non-album B-sides, and The Cure even devoted an entire 2004 Rhino 4-CD box set to their B-sides, called JOIN THE DOTS: THE COMPLETE B-SIDES. Pretty impressive.
Some of the most-memorable INXS B-sides are “Guns In The Sky” (the Kookaburra Mix for the 7” and Nick’s Twelve Inch Mix (naturally, for the 12” single), “Laying Down The Law” (with Jimmy Barnes, from THE LOST BOYS soundtrack) and “Do Wot You Do” (originally featured on the PRETTY IN PINK soundtrack).
Most folks prolly won’t remember “Move On,” but I hope you give it a listen, and even more so, I hope you remember loving all those years ago, and have rediscovered again. Musically, I think “Move On” is one of INXS’ finest, even if it didn’t make the album. But, it sure sounds like it could have been there.
Happy Birthday Michael, wherever you are…