When Andrew Farriss first crossed Michael Hutchence, they were both high school students. They met when Andrew broke up a fight that Michael was involved in. The two became instant friends, and found that they shared a very strong interest in one thing - music. By the end of their high school days, circa 1977, they formed a band called "The Farriss Brothers" which was composed of Andrew, his two brothers Tim and Jon, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers, and Michael. Within a couple of years, the sextet refined their sound and changed their name to INXS (pronouned IN EXCESS.) Little did the Perth, Australia-based band realize the magnitude of success that awaited them in the years to come.
Their first single, "Simple Simon" was heavily influenced by the declining punk scene and also found roots in ska and pop. With their initial single finished, the band began touring the Australian continent, and slowly began to establish a fan base in the pub touring scene. It is this initial dedication of INXS to touring that helped to establish their credentials and begin to create a solid fan base of support. It is estimated that they were playing nearly 360 shows a year in the sweaty pubs of Australia during their early years. It sure payed off....
In 1980, the band released their first album, the self-titled "INXS" on Deluxe Records. The album featured their first major hit in Australia, "Just Keep Walking," and was quickly followed in 1981 by their second LP, "Underneath the Colours." These two albums, in conjunction with continual touring, helped refine their sound and style, and paved their way for the hugely successful "Shabooh Shoobah" album.
This legendary record, released in 1983, became the first INXS album released worldwide, and its impact was very strong. The album's major hit, "The One Thing" was a worldwide smash hit, and with the help of a worldwide tour, INXS began the road to world domination. The album is also important in that it is the first album to feature the trademark INXS style of dance rock. "The One Thing" was followed by a string of hits, including "Black and White" and "Don't Change," which is still many fans' favorite INXS song of all time.
1984 saw the band release "The Swing." The Swing continued to push INXS toward the top of rockdom, with such classic singles as "Original Sin," "Burn For You," and "Melting in the Sun." Original Sin, the lead single from the album, established what the band had always tried to do with the help of Nile Rodgers - namely, allow rock music to still be danceable. The controversial single dealing with interracial relationships was banned in several countries, including the United States. "Burn For You" began the creative relationship between INXS and filmmaker Richard Lowenstein. Lowenstein created the video for the song, and has since served as video director for most subsequent INXS singles. The album, "The Swing," did phenomenally well around the world, and became one of the five biggest selling albums in Australian music history.
Though INXS had become well-known around the world, it was not until 1985' "Listen Like Thieves" that they became house-hold names. The album was the first to go platinum (1 million units sold) in the US, and featured their first US Top 10 single, "What You Need." Behind their growing popularity were two things - their unique style of rock rhythms and their continual touring of the world. The album features such singles as "This Time," "What You Need," "Listen Like Thieves," and "Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)."
In the interim between "Listen Like Thieves" and their next record, the band continued to branch out and diversify. Michael Hutchence entered the world of acting with his memorable performance in Lowenstein's "Dogs in Space," featuring the Australian hit song, "Rooms for the Memory." The band also contributed songs to various soundtracks, including "American Anthem," "Crocodile Dundee," "Pretty in Pink," and most notably, "The Lost Boys."
1987 saw INXS explode into one of the most famous bands in the world... ever. "Kick" not only sold 4 million copies in the US, but 10 million worldwide, and still stands today as one of the most famous albums of all time. "Need You Tonight," the lead single, hit #1 in the US and many other countries, and went on to win 5 awards at the MTV Video Music Awards show in 1988. The string of hits on the album is near legendary: "Devil Inside," "New Sensation," "Never Tear Us Apart," and "Guns in the Sky." The album featured killer hooks and rhythms, great melodies, well-written lyrics, and more. With two successful stadium tours INXS had finally scaled the world.
The price of success, though, was very high on the band, and they took a two year break to recuperate from the INXS hysteria that had flooded the world. In the words of Hutchence, "Another Kick would finish the band." In the ensuing break, every member went his separate way to work on solo projects. The most notable side-project was Hutchence's teaming with Australian punk rocker, Ollie Olson, on the Max Q album. The album is a testament to creativity and innovation, and was a success on the alternative music scene.
In 1990, INXS returned with "X," named to commemorate ten years in recording. The album went platinum, and featured the hit singles "Suicide Blonde," "Disappear," "Bitter Tears," and "By My Side." Their subsequent world tour, which sold out stadiums and arenas around the world, culminated in the Summer XS show at Wembley Stadium in July of 1991, where they performed before 80,000 people. Their 1991 album, "Live Baby Live," was released to showcase their live style and celebrate their Wembley show.
"Welcome to Wherever You Are," the 1992 offering from INXS, has become an instant classic for all those who have followed INXS over the years. Their most innovative work to date, the album showcases a re-energized and new INXS. Teeming with creativity and catchy hooks, songs like "Not Enough Time," "Heaven Sent," "Taste It," "Beautiful Girl," and "Communication" demonstrate the ability of the band to persevere and change to suit the times. "Communication" features a dizzying area of computer generated sounds and samples, and for "Baby Don't Cry" and "Men and Women," they employ a full 60 piece orchestra to back them up. Though the album fell just short of the platinum mark, it remains many fans' favorite.
Following a brief world "pub" tour designed to honor longtime fans with small performances in intimate clubs, INXS emerged with "Full Moon, Dirty Hearts." Recorded in early '93, the album was originally intended to serve as a companion for "Welcome...," though the styles of both are quite disparate. "Full Moon, Dirty Hearts" features INXS returning to their roots, and creating songs that are quick, stripped down, and raw. The band also performs two duets on the album: "Please (You've Got That...)" with the legendary Ray Charles; and "Full Moon, Dirty Hearts," with Chrissy Hyndes of the Pretenders. The lead single, the rocking guitar anthem "The Gift," was accompanied by a video release of every single song on the new album, created by the protegees of director Richard Lowenstein.
Following the "Full Moon, Dirty Hearts" album, which was clearly not a commercial or critical success, INXS switched record labels from Atlantic to Polygram and began work on a best of compilation disc. "INXS The Greatest Hits," features two new songs, including "The Strangest Party," a throwback to their extremely popular and successful hook-filled songs of the late 1980's. The album, released in late 1994, is a dizzying trip of perfection, showcasing the strength and influence INXS has wielded over the music industry for over a decade. From their earliest major hit "The One Thing," to their current smash hit, "The Strangest Party," the greatest hits collection proves to all that INXS has a continued relevance to rock music, and that they are sure to continue reaching new heights for many years to come.
- Neil Kothari
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