song of the day – “The One Thing” | INXS | 1982.

The charismatic singer and frontman for my favorite band, INXS, Michael Hutchence, would have been 57 today.  INXS, formed in Sydney, Australia in 1977, had already released two albums (1980’s INXS and 1981’s UNDERNEATH THE COLOURS) before they appeared on my radar (and most folks from North America and other parts of the globe) in early 1983, with “The One Thing,” the first single from their third album, the brilliant SHABOOH SHOOBAH.

“The One Thing” was first released in July 1982, a few months before the release of SHABOOH SHOOBAH, and reached No. 14 in their Australian homeland.  The album and single were released here in the U.S. in February 1983, and I instantly fell in love with the song (and later the album).  “The One Thing” is three-and-a-half minutes of pure New Wave / Rock perfection.

SHABOOH SHOOBAH prolly wouldn’t have happened if INXS hadn’t fronted the money to record “The One Thing” with producer Mark Opitz, who had worked with fellow Australian Rock bands AC/DC, The Angels, and Cold Chisel (who INXS toured with in 1982).  Mark Opitz was initially hired to produce “The One Thing,” which led to producing a few more songs, and later, what would become SHABOOH SHOOBAH.

shabooh-shoobah

The success of SHABOOH SHOOBAH in Australia (where it reached No. 5 on the album chart, and spent 94 weeks on that chart), led to success here in America and beyond.  The album reached No. 46 on the BILLBOARD album chart and was certified Gold. 

Over on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, “The One Thing” became the band’s first American hit, debuting at No. 90 in late March 1983.  Their first U.S. performance that month, in San Diego, California (on a tour in support of Adam And The Ants) was before a crowd of 24 people.  Can you imagine?  Damn.  That prolly never happened again.  INXS would later tour with Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Stray Cats, The Kinks, and The Go-Go’s (Portland, Maine was a stop on that tour – wish I could have been there!).

With a steady climb up the Hot 100, “The One Thing” became the band’s first U.S. Top 40 hit as well, reaching No. 40 in mid-May 1983, and spending two weeks at its peak position of No. 30 in late May / early June 1983, and a total of 14 weeks on the chart.  Over on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, it fared much better, reaching No. 2.  “The One Thing” was also a Top 20 hit in Canada.

the-one-thing

With the positive reaction to both SHABOOH SHOOBAH and “The One Thing,” INXS would go on to have much success for many years to come.  The one and only time I would see INXS – on an early date in the Fall of 1987 for their monster KICK tour and album, at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Michael Hutchence was so fun to watch on stage.  The band, of course, was phenomenal, but Michael had the moves and charisma as I had never seen in a singer / frontman before or since (save for maybe David Byrne).  It was a performance I will never forget, and one of the last performances at a small venue INXS would play on that tour, or again.

michael-hutchence

2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of Michael’s passing, and I think of him often, sometimes wondering what he’d be doing with INXS for their 40th anniversary this year.  But, at the very least, I have amazing songs like “The One Thing” – which is just one of many things – to remember him by…

Miss you Michael, wherever you are…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJyKTNdPL5s

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song of the day – “Never Tear Us Apart” | INXS | 1988.

This year has hit the music world and music fans like me especially hard.  And not just a hard punch like my 4-year-old niece punching me in the arm kind of hard.  The amount of notable passings of music royalty this year (spanning all genres), unlike any other year to my recollection, has felt more like a repeated punch in the stomach and the head and the heart.

When John Lennon was tragically murdered on December 8, 1980, I was just 13 years old, so my love for John Lennon at nearly 14 was not the same as the love I have for John and his music at nearly 50.  As an adult, for me, the first artist whose death really hurt was the loss of Michael Hutchence, the charismatic and gifted lead singer of INXS, who passed away on this date (November 22) in 1997.  I was 30 and living in Portland, Maine at the time, and it was less than three months after the high-profile death of Princess Diana.  With the Internet still a bit young and not as accessible as it is today, I remember being heavily disappointed that Michael’s death wasn’t being covered as much on television as I thought it should be.  I think I saw something on MTV and maybe on the national news that night, but not much else. 

michael hutchence 1987

Suffering from depression and under the influence of alcohol and drugs, Michael Hutchence sadly took his own life in a hotel room in Sydney at the far-too-young age of 37 (exactly two months shy of his 38th birthday).  Five days after his death, his coffin was carried out of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, carried by the remaining five members of INXS and his younger brother, Rhett.  As his coffin was being carried out of the church, the song which played in the background was “Never Tear Us Apart.” 

elegantly-wasted

The cover for the excellent 1997 INXS album, ELEGANTLY WASTED.

Earlier that year, INXS released their tenth studio album, ELEGANTLY WASTED.  I thought it was the best thing they had done since 1987’s KICK, and I was so excited for the future direction of the band.  In 1997, way back in the second year of my (now-20-year-old) little radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), ELEGANTLY WASTED was the first album I played on the show that contained new music by an 80s artist, and I’ve featured new music by 80s artists on my show ever since. 

 

Before Michael died, I had a chance to see INXS in Boston on the ELEGANTLY WASTED tour, which would have been the second time I had seen INXS (the first being at Colby College in Waterville in 1987, just as the momentum for “Need You Tonight” was building).  I opted instead to see the band Luna, featuring Galaxie 500 alum (and New Zealand native) Dean Wareham, a decision I don’t regret, because it was a really great show.  But, how was I to know…

KICK full cover

Released in early August 1988, “Never Tear Us Apart” was the fourth single released worldwide from KICK, the sixth studio album for INXS (released in October 1987).  Like the videos for “New Sensation” and “Guns In The Sky,” the video for “Never Tear Us Apart” was filmed throughout the gorgeous city of Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.  I hope to get there one day.  The video, directed by Richard Lowenstein (who directed many memorable INXS videos) even had a beautiful extended intro that, to my knowledge, has never made it onto any audio recording.

Just five days after its release, “Never Tear Us Apart” (co-written by Michael Hutchence and keyboardist / primary songwriter Andrew Farriss) debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 86, while the band’s No. 3 U.S. hit, “New Sensation,” was still in the Top 40.  “Never Tear Us Apart” found its way to the Top 40 of the Hot 100 by mid-September 1988, and in early November 1988, the lush ballad spent a week at No. 7, becoming the fourth consecutive Top 10 American hit from KICK.  It spent a total of 23 weeks on the Hot 100, and departed from the chart in January 1989.  “Never Tear Us Apart” also reached No. 5 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, and No. 28 on BILLBOARD’s then-new Modern Rock chart.

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Around the globe, “Never Tear Us Apart” may not have been as big a hit as its three KICK predecessors, but it did reach the Top 10 in Belgium and Holland, No. 18 in Canada, No. 21 in New Zealand, No. 24 in the U.K., and a No. 14 peak in Australia, which changed in 2014 after an Australian miniseries called INXS: NEVER TEAR US APART prompted a return for the single, and it reached a new peak of No. 11.paloma-faith-never-tear-us-apart

The song has been covered by the likes of Tom Jones (featuring fellow Sydney recording artist, Natalie Imbruglia), the late, great Joe Cocker, Beck and St. Vincent (which I now have to hear), Carrie Underwood, the Los Angeles Indie Rock singer / songwriter Cary Brothers (you prolly heard several of his songs on my third-favorite TV show, SCRUBS), and a beautiful 2012 cover by English singer / songwriter / actress Paloma Faith, which I was turned on to earlier this year, I think.  It reached No. 16 in the U.K. and was certified Silver there.precious-heart

In 2001, a remixer by the name of Tall Paul (real name Paul Newman; no, not that one) created several remixes using a heavy sample of “Never Tear Us Apart” on a song called “Precious Heart” (named after a line from the song).  It reached No. 14 in the U.K. and No. 27 in Australia.

In the years since Michael Hutchence’s passing, many folks have considered “Never Tear Us Apart” to be an anthem-of-sorts for Michael.  Well, anthem or not, I can safely say it’s my favorite song off of KICK, and one of my all-time favorite songs from my all-time favorite band.  And, 19 years later, what I know is true, is that I still miss you, Michael, wherever you are…

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Michael Hutchence, from the “Never Tear Us Apart” video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIBv2GEnXlc

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song of the day – “Need You Tonight” | INXS | 1987.

I was already a big fan of the Melbourne, Australia Rock band INXS long before their sixth studio album, KICK, was released in October 1987.  The album was only out a couple of weeks and change when I saw INXS perform at Colby College’s Wadsworth Gym (in Waterville, Maine) on November 7, 1987.  Leadoff single “Need You Tonight” hadn’t even reached the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 yet… but that would soon change after I saw this show; EVERYTHING for INXS would change forever after I saw them perform just this one time…

KICK full cover

The full gatefold cover for KICK…

Unlike concerts now, you could go to a college show like this, wait in line, and rush to the be in front of the stage, which is exactly what I had done.  I saw some folks I met a month before when The Hooters performed there.  On that early November night, were all in the front row waiting for a show to remember.

I’ve seen a great deal of performers in my time, and it was truly amazing to watch Michael Hutchence onstage that night.  The whole band was sensational, but Michael was so charismatic, so confident.  The Colby stop for INXS was among the last Stateside visits for INXS in 1987, and when they returned to the U.S. in late February 1988, “Need You Tonight” had already reached No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and the band performed three dates at Radio City Music Hall in NYC in mid-March with “Devil Inside” inside the Top 20.  By the time the KICK tour ended in November 1988, INXS had gone from playing colleges like Colby to sports arenas and then some.

Back to that Colby show, “Need You Tonight” and KICK weren’t quite hits just yet, but the momentum was there.  You could tell the band was going to explode into something huge, something they prolly hadn’t expected.  For years, apart from the Top 10 success they had with “What You Need” in 1986, INXS primarily played colleges and smaller venues.  Several of my friends have mentioned attending a concert INXS did in Portland, Maine (at the Exposition Building) with The Go-Go’s back in the early 80s.  Lucky bastards.

michael hutchence 1987

Michael Hutchence, 1987.

Between the growing popularity of INXS, the onstage charisma of Michael Hutchence, and the small venue at Colby College, a kick-ass front row view turned into chaos quick.  Everyone wanted to be near Michael and the band, and started migrating towards the front, even though there was no room to be had.  The concert had to be stopped, and one of the kind people I met at The Hooters show a month before had to be carried off the stage because she was getting crushed against the security barrier.  Michael Hutchence himself even told people to move back before anyone else gets hurt.  And, once I left the front row for a spot on the side bleachers (about halfway back in the gym), I started enjoying the show again.

The INXS show was on a Saturday night, and at the time, I was the new DJ at a local chem-free nightclub called Studio 2.  The club was open for chem-free dancing (mainly high school kids) from 8:00pm until midnight every Saturday (and some Wednesdays during the Summer).  I had been DJing there for prolly 5 months.  If I recall, it was my first night off (so I could see the concert).  After the INXS show, I went back to check on things at Studio 2 and to say HI to a girl I was interested in (it wasn’t reciprocated in the end).  I drove back to Colby to see if I could still meet the band, but I was too late.  So, I missed my one chance to meet Michael Hutchence and INXS that night…over a girl.  

I’ll never forget that INXS show, and how the band catapulted from colleges to stadiums within a year, and how I was so glad to be a witness to the early part of that.  Honestly, as much as I love KICK, it’s not my favorite album by INXS – that distinction goes to 1982’s SHABOOH SHOOBAH, the album that introduced the band to the U.S. (including yours truly), and other parts of the globe outside of Australia and New Zealand.

INXS Need You Tonight

“Need You Tonight” spent a week at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late January 1988, a fitting start to a huge year for INXS.  “Need You Tonight” spent nearly half a year on the Hot 100, and was ranked at No. 2 for all of 1988 here in America, ranked just behind George Michael’s “Faith.”  It also charted on several of BILLBOARD’s other charts, reaching No. 7 on the Dance chart, No. 12 on the Rock chart and even No. 73 on the R&B chart.  Pretty impressive.

Around the globe, “Need You Tonight” was a massive hit and was apparently needed almost everywhere, reaching the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa.  The video for “Need You Tonight” / “Mediate” also picked up five (of nine) MTV Video Music Awards in 1988, for Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Editing In A Video, Viewer’s Choice and Video Of The Year.

need you tonight video

Clips from the “Need You Tonight” video.

KICK went on to sell more than six million copies in the U.S. alone, and remains the band’s biggest album overall worldwide.  The other three singles released from KICK here in America all reached the Top 10 of the Hot 100: “Devil Inside” (No. 2, April 1988), “New Sensation” (No. 3, July 1988) and the gorgeous “Never Tear Us Apart” (No. 7, November 1988).

Ten years and 15 days after the memorable performance by INXS at Colby College, Michael Hutchence sadly took his own life at the far-too-young age of 37.  This year, we’ve lost some music heroes and heavy-hitters, including David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey of The Eagles, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, Country legend Merle Haggard, and Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead at the end of 2015. 

The death of Michael Hutchence was the first music death that really hit me hard, especially since I thought ELEGANTLY WASTED (released in April 1997) was the band’s best album since KICK.  It would have been cool to see the direction they were going.  But, it was not to be. 

rockstar inxs

From ROCK STAR: INXS, 2005 (from left, guitarist Tim Farriss, drummer Jon Farriss, lead singer and ROCK STAR: INXS winner J.D. Fortune, keyboardist (and then some) and chief songwriter Andrew Farriss, rhythm guitarist and saxophonist Kirk Pengilly, and bassist Garry Gary Beers).

I applauded the band for wanting to move forward, even without their brother Michael.  They did a worldwide reality TV show (ROCK STAR: INXS) to find a new lead singer (Canadian J.D. Fortune got the call), released an album because of it (2005’s SWITCH), and picked up their biggest hit since 1992 (“Pretty Vegas,” No. 37 Hot 100, No. 1 Canada).  INXS released a remix album in late 2010 before calling it quits in November 2012 after 35 years.

“Need You Tonight” has been oft-mentioned as being the “sexiest song of the 80s.”  It’s a fair statement.  I don’t, however, believe that was my reasoning for choosing the song as my debut attempt at karaoke with my dear friend Michelle in Portland a week ago, but I’m glad I chose it.  I was even nerding out and wearing my INXS “Need You Tonight” 12” single T-shirt while singing the song.  It’s what I do.  And, I didn’t think my performance was all that bad.  I got some applause, my friend (and karaoke-er extraordinaire) Michelle enjoyed it, and I’ll prolly do karaoke again because of the experience. 

INXS need you tonight x2 2.28.16

That’s me nerding out in the WMPG studio under the bright lights, 2.28.2016, with my matching import “Need You Tonight” single and T-shirt.

Though Michael’s been gone 19 years this year, and it’s been six years since they parted ways, INXS has long been my favorite band.  And, even though I got to see them just the one time, it was a part of music history – and my music history – that I’ll never forget.  For Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers (and J.D. Fortune too), I thank you, and I will need you and your music to stay with me forever, but for now, I’ll take tonight…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F93ywiGMDnQ

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song of the day – “Shine Like It Does” | INXS | 1985.

My first “song of the day” post.  Starting today, it’s my goal to post one of these every day (though it may not always work out that way, but for now, I’m hopeful), and each song will have been released sometime between the Fall of 1979 through the end of 1989.  Could be a heavy album track, a B-side, a minor hit or a No. 1 song.  You’ll have to wait and see…

In my last post (about David Bowie), I mentioned INXS’ Michael Hutchence.  He would have been 56 this year.  It’s kind of hard to imagine him at 56 because he passed away at the oh-so-young age of 37.  I’m betting he would have loved getting older, he would have still had that charismatic presence about him, and INXS would prolly still be together. 

I loved INXS from the first time I heard “The One Thing” (from 1982’s brilliant SHABOOH SHOOBAH album) on the radio in early 1983.  “The One Thing” was their first hit in America, though they had released 2 albums prior to SHABOOH SHOOBAH (still my favorite INXS record).

INXS was one of those bands early on for me that I bought the albums AND the singles for (or the singles I could find, anyway).  Following the 1984 album, THE SWING, was 1985’s LISTEN LIKE THIEVES, the worldwide breakthrough album for the Melbourne, Australia band.  I enjoyed THE SWING, and it grew on me more and more as the years went on, but like SHABOOH SHOOBAH, I loved LISTEN LIKE THIEVES instantly. 

listen like thievesI was thrilled beyond belief when “What You Need” became a Top 5 American hit in April 1986.  And that video remains as one of my favorites from that time.  But, LISTEN LIKE THIEVES had some real depth to it as well. 

First single “This Time” was not a big hit (stopping at No. 81 here in the U.S.), but maybe that’s part of its charm.  I love the way the band worked and played together to put out these amazing songs.  Among my other favorites on this album are “Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)” and the kick-ass title track. 

The song I’ve chosen as my first pick for “song of the day” comes from LISTEN LIKE THIEVES, and it’s also the title of their 2001 Rhino compilation – “Shine Like It Does.” 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNaa08BDQpw

At just 3 minutes and 5 seconds, “Shine Like It Does” is simple, honest and when Michael Hutchence sings the lyrics he and Andrew Farriss wrote together – “Shine like it does / Into every heart / Shine like it does / And if you’re looking / You will find it” – I believe him.  Just something about this song I will love forever.

You know, INXS’s KICK may have been the album that made them international superstars, but it was LISTEN LIKE THIEVES and songs like “Shine Like It Does” that certainly helped get them there… inxs 1985 listen like thieves