Kick, by INXS
Suggested by Sara-Jane Davies
I remember when Kick was released.
I was almost fourteen, and beginning my cruise down the Heavy Metal Highway with a backpatched demin and a bumfluff moustache. I’d bought my first ever album not long before, Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast, but I suspect that choice was more to do with the shock value of the cover than the (excellent) music it contained.
I remember thinking that the band were pretty crap. I mean, they didn’t rock a power chord or have a vocalist with a caterwauling wail. They didn’t sing about demons or devils or rainbows in the dark. And they certainly didn’t mosh hardcore style, despite the singer having moderately long hair.
“Too poppy by half,” I thought, firing up Fighting the World by Manowar. Now THAT’S music!
Over thirty years have flown by since. I’m mellowed by age and kebab meat, and my musical taste has mellowed with me. Listening to a remastered Kick today has reminded me what an opinionated little asshat I used to be.
Kick is a great record.
For a start, it’s got four absolute blinding tracks on it. Four memorable and iconic songs from a total of twelve is a fine hit rate, and it’s tough to rank New Sensation, Mistify, Never Tear Us Apart and Need You Tonight in anything other than personal preference. Aside from the successful singles, there’s a host of great pop rock offerings that transcend their Album Track designation. Devil Inside and Wild Life are both worth mentioning here.
The band’s signature pop rock sound, with jangling guitars mixing pure rock and roll with a much more grooveable dance pop feel. Towering over all are Hutchence’s swaggering vocals, indelibly stamping each riff and phrase into the memory like a branding iron.
With at least four genuine classics to choose from, my pick for standout track is the Never Tear Us Apart, the layered synth ballad that builds great tension with its pregnant pauses before the instrumental breaks. This song is one of my Eternal Earworms, a collection of tunes that repeatedly returns to my head to hum itself at random points in my life. Bizarrely, this song is so good I actually didn’t think is was by INXS… I thought their version was a cover version of an unnamed legend’s original.
INXS were already on the downswing when Hutchence died at the age of 37, one harrowing flag in the piteous timeline of him, Yates and Geldolf. But instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s celebrate the legacy. Kick stands the test of time with ease, and I give it a strong 8/10.