Tuesday, 13 November 2012
image source Gold 104.3FM Melbourne.
This morning the news that INXS had broken up was everywhere - it was inescapable. Apparently it was announced during their performance on the last night of their tour supporting Matchbox 20 in Perth last night.
It remains to be seen if this is a complete retirement announcement or an announcement of the David Bowie, sleep deprived "last show we'll ever do" type at the end of the 1973 Ziggy Stardust tour.
Either way, is it surprising?
Um...no, not really.
For any kid growing up and coming of age in the 1980s, INXS was a mainstay of your music library. They rocked hard, like all Aussie bands were required to do in those days, but had enough swing and groove to make the girls dance, thus boosting their profile enormously. It also helped that frontman Michael Hutchence carried himself with the swagger of an Adonis, but that's another story...
They conquered the world in the 1990s and became a truly global band, before their Michael descended into tabloid fodder, tawdry sex scandals with other peoples wives and, finally in 1997, his own untimely death in a bizarre accident gone wrong.
By the time they released "X" in 1990, I was over them. I'd moved on. They had a few great singles during that time, such as "Heaven Sent" and the unusual but highly inspired Ray Charles collaboration "Please (You Got That...)". When Michael died, commercial radio and TV in this country went nuts, having 24 hour coverage of the scene and a constant stream of teary tributes from female fans.
Since then, in my view, the band existed on its past glories and became a parody of itself. They tried a host of new singers. The first of which was ex-Noiseworks frontman Jon Stevens, probably the best fit for the band out of any of subsequent singers to fill Michael's shoes. They tried to plug the void Michael left with Terrance Trent D'Arby (which thankfully didn't last long), karaoke caricature JD Fortune and the new Irish chappy Ciaran Gribbin. Unfortunately, none have really matched up to the larger than life Michael Hutchence.
One of the special aspects of the band was lost in 1997 and the band never recovered. It wasn't that Michael was a great singer - he was no Caruso, but neither should he have been. Like Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil, he had a limited vocal range, but it was expressive. It was the perfect fit within the band's sound. He used it to the best of his advantage: for the group, the music and the song he was singing at the time. It suited what they were doing, and he had the charisma to carry it to the world.
Still, albums like "Underneath The Colours", "The Swing" and "Kick" deservedly belong in any collection of classic Australian music. Songs like "Don't Change" still sound as fresh as they day they were recorded.
Below is a link to a Grooveshark playlist of some of my selections from the long back catalog of INXS...in loving memory.