June 14, 2012

Sound Influence: INXS - Kick

As I think back on my youth, I was not someone you would have called a music fan. There were hints that I might be headed in the general direction, but nothing terribly solid to point to. Still, there were a few albums (or cassettes as the case may be) that made their way into my possession that really clicked with me and have remained important landmarks in my development as a music fan. One of those albums was Kick by INXS. If pressed, I could give you a quick reason, but there was something about it that spoke to me. It remains a favorite today.

I am not sure where I first heard them or what song it was, although I suspect it was "Need You Tonight" or "Mediate." I certainly remember the video for the latter, mimicking the style Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (not that I knew who Dylan was at the time). I do, however, recall how I got the cassette. A friend of mine had gotten it as a gift but did not like them at all (he was strictly a metal guy at the time) and offered it to me. Of course I said I would take it and the rest is history.

Before Kick reached my ears I had no idea who INXS was. I was unaware of their Australian origins or the success of their prior album, Listen Like Thieves, or the fact this was their sixth album. It didn't matter, I knew I liked this album. It was certainly the poppiest album to become a favorite at the time, excepting Michael Jackson's Thriller, of course.

Listening today, and knowing my tasks have grown, shifted, and widened, I have not lost any of affection for it. In fact, I may have more respect for the impeccable song craft on display. This has to be considered one of the best pop/rock albums of the 1980's. The record is filled with danceable rock tunes with heartfelt sincerity and skill that does not belittle the listener. These songs are, by and large, crafted with intelligence, genuine feeling, and infused with a dose of playfulness. I dare say that Kick may be timeless.

I am not about to start calling this one of he best of all time, but it will always have a special place in my heart. In all seriousness, it is hard to ignore that certain quality it possesses. It is the coming together of a lot of pieces into one perfect mixture. The combination of soulful singing, a solid musical unit, and I don't know, but I think you know what I am talking about.

The lyrics mine common themes such as love, politics, and world betterment. They have a simple quality, but they are delivered in such a way that they don't really seem simple. Michael Hutchence has a voice that just makes everything sound so smooth. His emotion laden approach brings a good deal of sincerity.

The Farriss brothers and the rest of the band know exactly what they are doing, crafting infectious rhythms and grooves. I mean, just listen to the main riff of "Need You Tonight" and try to get that out of your head. Not to mention to orchestra synth arrangement of "Never Tear Us Apart," or the harder rocking feel of "Guns in the Sky." Riffs, solos, danceable rhythms, there is a lot to like here.

This is clearly the pinnacle of INXS's career. They have a lot of other good songs, but no one album that can match the magic in a bottle that was captured here. Their blend of rock, pop, dance, funk, rhythm and blues, and probably other styles sands out from the crowd. Their crowd pleasing sounds may easily be written off some as mainstream pop, they really were anything but. They had an experimental side, we're willing to incorporate a lot of elements into tether sound, but in the end everything they did was in service to the song. Sure, a song like "Tiny Daggers" may fall a bit flat, but tat is the exception rather than the rule.

Kick was an important album in my development of a music fan and will continue o remain an important piece of my musical history while still fitting in in my present. If you have not acquainted yourself with the record or it has been awhile, I use you to take the time to spend some time with a fantastic album.

Highly Recommended.


Unknown said...

So glad to come accros this post. Inxs was genius when doing kick. I have listened to this album over and over. It was just brilliant. Andrew and michael were a match made in heven. Michael not only was a poet but sang like one. To this day noone can sing like him. He sang with passion and if you notice in a style of if you eere reading a poem. Pure perfection.

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