INXS in 1981 … from left to right Tim Farriss, Garry Gary Beers. Michael Hutchence, Jon Farriss, Andrew Farriss and Kirk Pengilly
Source: News Limited
SIMPLE SIMON (1980)
IT all started when Andrew Farriss invited schoolmate Michael Hutchence to join a band called Doctor Dolphin. Eventually two more Farris brothers (Tim and Jon) joined, and the band indeed morphed into The Farriss Brothers. Their initial performance was in 1977, their first gig after renaming themselves INXS (apparently inspired by UK band XTC and the Australian jam company IXL) was in 1979. Their debut single was Simple Simon, released in May 1980. Their first TV appearance was on afternoon kids’ TV show Simon Townsend’s Wonder World playing the quirky, tightly-sound new wave nod Simple Simon. It’s here below in all its naive glory – Hutchence even knew how to work a TV camera the first time he was in front of one.
WE ARE THE VEGETABLES (1980)
THIS was the b-side to Simple Simon, but actually dates back to a phase in 1978 when they were called The Vegetables and this was their theme tune. It’s one of the punkiest INXS numbers, although unlike many punk acts, Tim Farriss could pull off a very deft guitar solo. Hutchence’s vocals are a great mix of anger and apathy and the whole thing’s over in under two minutes.
JUST KEEP WALKING (1980)
THEIR first hit, this peaked at No. 38 in Australia and got them on Countdown, starting an affiliation that would see Molly Meldrum become a friend and ally to the band. Just Keep Walking was arguably the first evidence the band could write excellent pop songs. In 2001 Italian dance act Par-T-One took the insistent melody from Just Keep Walking and cut up Hutchence’s venom-filled vocals and turned it into a surprise punky electronic thrash. The video features skinheads pogoing.
I’m So Crazy – the dance reimagining of Just Keep Walking
SPEED KILLS (1982)
THIS little-known collaboration came from Australian film Freedom, directed by Scott Hicks, who’d go on to make Shine. More importantly, it’s INXS meets Cold Chisel effectively – an Oz Rock dream team. Hutchence and Cold Chisel’s Don Walker pair up on this song from the Freedom soundtrack. Walker does the bluesy intro, then you get to hear what Cold Chisel would have sounded like with Michael Hutchence out front.
TO LOOK AT YOU (1983)
AFTER a run of hits (Stay Young, Don’t Change, The One Thing) To Look at You stalled at No. 36 on the Australian charts. Maybe it’s because of the gloomy synthesisers in the verses, but this has a killer INXS chorus. We’ve chosen this video because it captures Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl in 1983 when INXS played the antinuclear Stop the Drop concert.
LOVE IS (WHAT I SAY) (1984)
1984’s The Swing was a major album for INXS, consolidating on everything they’d threatened to that point. As well as hits Original Sin (produced by Nile Rodgers – at a time when most Australian rock bands weren’t professing a love for Chic or disco), I Send a Message and Burn For You, there’s quality album tracks like Johnson’s Aeroplane and this track, which has a haunting melody that lives on, much like the man singing it so charismatically. We’ve chosen this version, filmed in Germany in 1984, because Hutch channels Nostradamus as he looks at a sea of people holding cameras in the audience and says "This might be like the future."
SHINE LIKE IT DOES (1985)
THE Listen Like Thieves album is very low on flaws, and this is one of the most countrified Hutchence/Andrew Farriss collaborations. If their manager CM Murphy has a vision of country bands covering INXS songs, this beautiful tune would be a very good place to start. This video captures an impossibly handsome Hutchence on stage with INXS in Rotterdam. They got around in the `80s – it was this relentless international touring that set up the groundwork for Kick.
DO WOT YOU DO (1986)
THIS surfaced on the soundtrack to Pretty in Pink, a big deal at the time for an Australian band. It’s a great tune, perfectly bridging the band’s rock/funk sound between Listen Like Thieves and Kick. Garry Gary Beers’ bass is too often overlooked as the spine of INXS. It’d later turn up as the b-side to New Sensation, then wound up on the 25th anniversary reissue of Kick, suggesting it could have ended up on Kick at one stage. The song has no video, unfortunately.
ROOMS FOR THE MEMORY (1987)
ANOTHER Hutchence solo moment, this time from the soundtrack to his first movie Dogs in Space. The film was made by Richard Lowenstein, who’d directed a string of INXS videos. Hutchence plays Sam, based on Melbourne musician Sam Sejavka. The house in the film is at 18 Berry Street in Richmond. Heads up to tourists: it doesn’t look anything like it did in 1986 when this was filmed. Rooms for the Memory was a song by Whirlywirld, featuring another Melbourne muso Ollie Olsen, who INXS supported back in 1979. The song made No. 11 in Australia, but, like the film, alienated many INXS fans but showed off Hutchence’s (then still latent) darker side and planted seeds of future, more experimental solo work.
NEVER TEAR US APART (SOUL VERSION) (1988)
YEAH, yeah, you know this one. But probably not this version. Andrew Farriss unearthed this demo when looking through tapes for the 25th anniversary version of Kick. "I’d totally forgotten about it," he admitted to Hit at the time. It was one of the first run-throughs of the song, you’ll hear slightly different lyrics, a very loose-sounding Hutchence and a different sax line from Kirk Pengilly. We’d love to know what else is in the INXS vaults.
MOTORCYCLE BABY (1988)
BY this point, INXS were one of the hottest bands in the world. What does Michael Hutchence do? Hang out with some party mates in Melbourne and makes this song that features members of Big Pig, as well as some of the Farris Brothers and his boundary-pushing pal Ollie Olsen. Ecco Homo would later release a song called New York New York (not a cover version) that featured Bono and the Edge who Hutchence and Ollie Olsen recorded when U2 were touring Melbourne in 1989. The singer is the late Troy Davies, a friend of Hutchence, who was in the Hunters and Collectors’ Talking to a Stranger clip as well as Dogs in Space.
WAY OF THE WORLD (1989)
ANOTHER way Michael Hutchence decompressed after seducing the world (quite literally) with Kick? He turned his back on making another INXS album to reunite with Ollie Olsen for this side-project that confused many. All you need to know is that it’s an absolute lost classic. Way of the World was a minor hit (thanks to Hutchence’s involvement) and remains one of the best things he lent his voice to, with politically-charged lyrics (from Olsen) that set it aside from INXS. "Whether it’s God or the bomb it’s just the same, it’s only fear under another name," would not fly as an INXS chorus. Sometimes, the next single, is also something special.
SUICIDE BLONDE – MILK MIX (1990)
INXS had flirted with dance mixes from the early `80s onwards, but this was one of those perfect unions of song and remixer. Paul Oakenfold creates an epic, chilled house groove with INXS on top. Stunning.
BABY DON’T CRY (1992)
ARGUABLY the most underrated INXS single. Sadly this arrived mid-backlash (we do like to eat our own) so only reached No. 30. Recorded with a 60 piece orchestra, they got to live out their James Bond soundtrack fantasies. Michael Hutchence even appears to be channelling Blondie’s Rapture rap at the end. It may not be cool to say, but Welcome to Wherever You Are is the most creative INXS album in their catalogue, as well as containing classics like Not Enough Time, Beautiful Girl and Taste It. You should rediscover it.
UNDER MY THUMB (1994)
MICHAEL Hutchence spent years being compared to Mick Jagger. He performed this Stones cover, with an orchestra, "as my way of confronting it." If you had forgotten how powerful his voice is, take away the volume of a rock band and bask in it here. He’d later pay tribute to another hero, Iggy Pop, by covering The Passenger for a Batman soundtrack, which is also eminently You Tube-able.
THIS was an important moment for INXS – singing an unheard song at the ARIA Awards, back when lots of people still watched them, and after a few years of commercial indifference. Hutchence sounds immense, and there’s a classy, classic soul vibe here. This was filmed in 1996, but it wouldn’t appear until almost a year later on their final album with Hutch Elegantly Wasted. The title apparently came from a night out between Bono and Hutchence. Bono would later record vocals for Slide Away, from Michael’s posthumous solo album, and wrote the heartbreakingly beautiful Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of for the INXS singer. Bless that man.
DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD (1996)
THE original is INXS funk by numbers, but this remix totally reinvents the song and really pushes Hutchence’s vocals to the forefront. Their last truly great single … sorry JD Fortune.
INXS: Never Tear Us Apart airs Sunday at 8.30pm on Channel 7.