kickThere were two tapes that I played to death during the summer of 1995.  Both compilation albums, too – The Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks and INXS Greatest Hits.  I remember my friend wasn’t too enamoured with the Stones, conspiring with my brother to turn off the tape and exchange it whilst I was out the room (perhaps he’d over subscribed to it during the many visits over that summer). I don’t remember any such shenanigans when it came to INXS.  Nowadays, though, I get the odd look when I mention that I was rather fond of INXS.  I don’t know whether much of that is due to the quality of the last couple of Hutchence-era albums or if it is simply the result of what came after (the TV show and the lone J.D. Fortune fronted release, Switch, for example).  Whichever reason, INXS aren’t a band many seem to associate with musical credibility these days.  But trust me, before grunge and Paula Yates, INXS were actually really pretty brilliant.  At the very least, they were a truly great singles band.  That last statement is probably one that many would agree with, right?

Anyhoo, the only INXS record I own on vinyl is Kick.  It just so happens that it’s possibly their best.  When I say possibly, I mean most definitely.  By the time they reached their 6th album, Hutchence and Andrew Farriss had honed their songwriting skills and the proof, as they say is in the pudding.  Even now it sounds pretty fresh and I don’t think many have done that rock-pop crossover with as much aplomb as these guys did.  The guitars are both polished and gritty and the band lay down some of the most memorable riffs and rhythms of the 80s.  And then there’s Michael Hutchence.  His words and performances all dark, sexual, sensual, mysterious and engaging.  Most importantly, though, it’s just an incredibly consistent album that finds them at their peak and channelling the Stones, Queen, Roxy Music and Prince (some may say this is ludicrous, but I say not so much).
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Of the five singles from the album, three appear on Side A.  Starting with New Sensation.  Not that opener Guns In the Sky is for ignoring, as it’s actually really pretty good with it’s simple two chord back-and-forth while Hutchence growls like Jagger about starting a revolution (possibly).  But New Sensation remains the most recognisable of INXS’ tracks – that guitar and anthemic mantra.  The two tracks that follow in this run are also brilliant; Devil Inside is pure Roxy Music with that sinister groove as Hutchence ponders what would, if you believe some reports, eventually get him in bother.  Need You Tonight has a great back-beat accompanying another of those recognisable riffs.  Lyrically there’s not a great deal to it, but it’s the delivery … Hutchence quite clearly making what is now referred to as a bootie call (“I need you tonight, ’cause I’m not sleeping.  There’s something about you, girl, that makes me sweat”).  Like the single, this runs into Mediate before the side is rounded off by the modern blue-eyed soul of The Loved One.

Now, side B isn’t quite as accessible.  Not due to a dip in quality, but more the result of side A having three of the big hitters and songs aimed at getting your groove on.  Here it’s a bit more thoughtful (ha!), but there’s also some o’ that Rolling Stones stuff I was talking about.  Hutchence again channels Jagger with the delivery of lines like “I gotta learn some respect, that’s what I have, what I have for you” (Wild life) and “you don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be famous, you just have to have a little bit of patience” (Calling All Nations).  And then there’s the songs here that I keep returning to – Never Tear Us Apart and Mystify.  While Mystify was a favourite of mine for so long, the former is, quite possibly, the best song in INXS catalogue.  It’s the track that proves they had more to offer than the hit singles.  Of course, Never Tear Us Apart was a single, but it was more than that, too.  It’s a brilliantly crafted and exceptional love song.  A true great (in my opinion).  Additionally, it boasts one of Hutchence’s finest vocal performances.  The song itself breathes through an affecting ‘string’ arrangement and some subtle guitar … but around 1:45 it hits you …

…. Hutchence declares that “they’ll never … ever tear us apart” ….

… then guitar …

and …

… that Kirk Pengilly sax solo.

My word.

Mystify brings you back into focus before side B is brought to a close with the title track (solid, but not notable) and Tiny Daggers (which could easily have been one of the stronger songs from any of the Stones’ 80s records).

So yeah, a really great album and one I’m pleased to have in the collection.

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44 thoughts on ““We’re leaving broken hearts behind”: INXS – Kick (1987)

    1. Yeah, there is that – particularly the fall-out from it (Geldoff, Yates, the appeal against the cause of death and such like).

      … this being said, I have noticed that there’s a bunch of reissues scheduled for this year. I’m assuming the record suits have wind of a sea change. Or they’re just hopeful!

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  1. A total classic. Good to see someone sticking up for this band. I love this assign but I think I’d rate Listen Like Thieves as an equal to it as well. You can usually score cheap vinyl copies of that, I’d recommend it if you’ve not heard it. It’s not as hit laden as Kick but it’s more consistent.

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    1. Good shout. Listen Like Thieves and Welcome to Wherever You Are are the other two INXS albums I’d like on vinyl. I like those three a lot, but Kick gets the nod simply cause it boasts Never Tear Us Apart.

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      1. Yes I know what you mean. Kick is practically an INXS Greatest Hits. Was there not like 5 or 6 singles released off this one? I remember the first time I saw and heard them: on Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 10.

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      2. Yeah, there’s 5 on here – New Sensation, Devil Inside, Need You Tonight, Never Tear Us Apart and Mystify. All mighty great, too.

        … and Casey Kasem’s American Top 10! Man, I remember watching that myself. A hit of good music back when I was younger …

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      3. I read an article where they said it was written with hits in mind. Previous albums had writing from all the members but Kick was all Andrew Farriss and Hutchence as they were the most commercial writers in the band.

        I loved Americas Top 10! And there was a show around then called (I think) No Limits that I got a lot out of. It had Jonathan King in it (pre-prison) and a lovely female presenter whose name I can’t remember! Lots of good US Pop Metal on that program.

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      4. I guess Listen Like Thieves sorta signalled a change in direction cause of the impact that one had single-wise. But I think Hutchence and Farriss really hit their stride, too.

        I have a vague recollection of No Limits. Not one I’m that familiar with, right enough …

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  2. Was just thinking about it some more. A couple of years ago, INXS was supposed to come play the horrible summer festival that takes over our park by the water every summer. The whole thing got cancelled for lack of ticket sales, but INXS (with that new singer guy) was supposed to be the main event. At the time I scoffed, felt bad for them to have to come to my shite little town and play for a bunch of beer-heads, but on the other hand it’d be the closest I’d ever been to them, and the band is surely still a good time. Ah well, the gig never happened so we’ll never know.

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    1. I find it difficult when it comes to seeing bands that continue with an integral part of them missing. I mean, Hutchence was such a huge part of the band, much like Shannon Hoon was a big part of Blind Melon, Jim to The Doors and Layne Staley to Alice in Chains. I’ve really struggled to engage with the music from each of those bands when the ‘move on’ … can’t help but view them as cover bands with the unique selling point of having the original members. Particularly that The Doors / 20th Century Doors thing. That was just horrid.

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      1. There’s likely a whole blog post in that line of thought, for the right motivated person! And there’s the whole other side of the argument… I mean, what about a band like Sabbath. It can’t ALL have been crap after Ozzy left. Or Priest. Now, mind you, that brief Blaze period of Maiden was a bit of a misstep but they got it right again, didn’t they! 🙂 So there you go. Free post idea! 🙂

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      2. Yeah, indeed there is. Maybe it’s more acceptable for me to make that argument when it’s bands that ‘grew up with’. Y’know, like Blind Melon and Alice in Chains …

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      3. Also, by all accounts, that new singer guy INXS got was pretty damn good. I don’t know about the charisma level same as Hutchence, but hey. Good on ’em for not letting it die.

        Also for your post idea: Journey. Van Halen. Genesis. Motley Crue. Styx. AC/DC. Lots of bands that got new singers and carried on. Is AC/DC a cover band with Johnson after Bon died?

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      4. … you got me with AC/DC there. I mentioned when I’d sat with Back in Black how I thought Johnson also brought a little bit of himself to that. But then, I guess there may be folks out there who went ‘mnah’ back in 1980, right?

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      1. There’s a skateboard on the cover, that’s always an easy Lego ‘in’ for me.

        Used to love Guns in The Sky too, I remember hearing it for the first time in the back of our French class.

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    1. Quite possibly, yeah. I guess they were never quite the same after this … kept chasing that success with X (which was too much of an attempt to recreate this one that it felt a bit empty). And I guess the success wasn’t too impressed with Full Moon, Dirty Hearts cause they weren’t chasing Kick, but something different …

      … does any of that make sense!?

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  3. I was about to post in commendation of your bravery re: positive INXS review but read on and found all that love being shown here for them. Who Knew?!?

    I doubt if I’ve heard Kick in its entirety since the 80s – I just remember hearing Never Tear Us Apart a few years ago (probably more than a few) and being disappointed in the accursed Big Eighties Production. I did like them when I was a lad though – saw them play to a sold out Edinburgh Playhouse on the Listen Like Thieves tour which was weird as they were still pretty much under the radear over here – until we realised that the audience seemed to consist of all the Australian ex-pats in Scotland (I still probably like Listen Like Thieves best of their albums, though again I’m going on my 25-years-old recollection). They supported Queen on the Magic tour (which was a kind of rolling festival with Queen, Quo, INXS and varying others) but we never saw them at Newcastle as their van broke down on the way to the gig and at Wembley we turned up a bit later in the hope of missing The Alarm but sadly we only missed INXS and caught The Alarm’s set in full. Ohdeargod.

    You’re probably familiar with this but if not, it’s well worth checking out: http://youtu.be/nMERAf3OgZM

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    1. I very much love that Beck project. I always hoped Kick would get an official release. Could have been my favourite ‘covers album’ ever.

      Bit I would recommend revisiting this (or Listen Like Thieves). I’ve been doing so over the last few months (my iPod has almost exclusively been all about INXS, Van Halen and Judas Priest).

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  4. Honestly, when I was younger(I was 14 when ‘Kick’ came out), I was pretty enamored with it. But as I’ve gotten older ‘Listen Like Thieves’ has surpassed the Kick. There was something a little more punky about ‘LLT’. Even the ballads had teeth to ’em. ‘Kick’ is still a great album, and one I wish could be popular and radio fodder nowadays. Sadly, and album like ‘Kick’ wouldn’t be as popular today as it was in 1987.

    Curmudgeonly lament, sorry.

    Oh, and “Don’t Change” is probably my absolute favorite INXS song. The best song Duran Duran never wrote.

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      1. After another (closer) listen I’m appreciating the love for Listen Like Thieves (possibly more balanced and with a bit more grit). I’ll always have the connection to Kick, but I’m really gonna need to pick up Listen Like Thieves on vinyl. Cause it really is great.

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