Friday, July 10, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 149 - INXS - Listen Like Thieves

By: March

Album - Listen Like Thieves
Artist - INXS
Key Players - Garry Gary Beers - Bass. Jon Farriss - Drums. Tim Farriss - Guitar and Synthesizers. Kirk Pengilly - Guitar, saxophone and vocals. Andrew Farriss - Keyboards and Guitar. Michael Hutchence - Vocals.
Produced By - Chris Thomas

Release Date - October 14, 1985

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Been sort of meaning to do INXS for a while now, and when I took a list in alphabetical order of all the FDF's that have been done, there have been no "I" bands. Problem solved.

Overview - This was the 5th Album and considered the breakthrough for the Australian band INXS. This record would spawn their first top 5 single (What you need) and would go as high as #11 in US and 3 in Australia. The band would maintain a large fan base with subsequent releases and were poised to continue such a path until the untimely death of singer Michael Hutchence.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Drums roll across and the band sounds not quite ready to go, then a guitar chord and "What You Need" begins. One of the bigger songs from the record, it was actually the second single. The song has a fun feel to it, blending keyboards and some long saxophone notes that as the chorus approaches hit power chords on the guitar. After the chorus the sax is up more in the mix and the band will do this again, with Pengilly going even higher in the octave on the sax and having a great sax run as the music begins to fade on the track. The guitar slowly plays chippy notes and "Listen Like Thieves"is underway. Beers bass gets to show off some with some slap heavy notes and some deep grooves. The guitar is playful and the keyboards are used more to fill out the sound rather than be a focal point. The pay off is the final verse when Hutchence really pushes himself and the guitars play in unison giving a great wall of sound, a terrific moment. They actually do it twice, separated by a guitar solo. The second time is even better. A lone guitar opens "Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)". As the verse begins the guitar repeats the same chord while the bass and keyboard and drums follow suit. Hutchence is a little more laid back on this track during the verses. The chorus has the keyboard and guitar playing off one another. The keyboard with long notes and the guitar more chopping in to it all. It is pretty laid back until the end when the guitar comes distorted over it all and the bass and drums fire off each other. Beers slaps the bass to attention and before you know it, we even off once more and end on a much more "mellow" note. On "Shine Like It Does" we hear the play of two guitars, yet this time one is acoustic. Again, on the surface a "mellower" song thus far but it stands its own. The keyboard rounds out the sound while the drums keep solid time. The electric guitar will play over the acoustic at times, but it has a unique sound so it adds a nice touch, and at times sounds a little twangy. A more full keyboard begins "Good + Bad Times". This track has a strong bass line again, not complicated but high on the mix. The guitars crunch at times, and the drums seem to be getting hit a little harder. Pengilly plays the soprano sax at one point and the drums and guitar continue to be hit hard. Once again, the track seems to be mixed flawlessly with no one instrument washing out the other. "Biting Bullets" is an uptempo track. Hutchence begins to sing right at the start, and musically it feels a little more "busy" for some reason. Prior to this the instruments all seems to have a focus, this sounds just noisy for some reason. Its not a bad track, its rocking for sure, but we have been spoiled with a cleaner sound up to this point. The actual first single from the record "This Time" follows. The long guitar begins with Hutchence and the song slowly builds in its intensity. The keyboards are simple and the bass has that trademark punch. As the chorus approaches the band picks up the vibe and if you listen really hard you can hear some harmonizing on the chorus vocals. A little more electronic feeling track is "Three Sisters". The band relies on some ambiance sounds with the keyboards and the drums also sound "electric" on this track. All in all it is okay since the song is just an instrumental. A very 80's feeling "Same Direction" begins with synth and a buzzy guitar. It feels like a toss out from "Blade Runner" but a guitar gets strummed over the top with that trademark chime. By the time the vocals start the band has struck a strong groove. Hutchence is not overly flashy but his vocals are strong and the band fills in gaps nicely. It has a similar feel to the track "shine like it does" but there is a more complex breakdown during the track that separates the two. "One x One" begins with a big horn section and Hutchence seems to have a smile in his voice. The record wraps up with the raucous "Red Red Sun". The drums get the bulk of the work on this track. Hutchence gets some vocal delay working for him as the first verse begins with long calls that echo over the intro. The drums really drive this tune and it ends on a very strong note.

Where are they now? - Michael Hutchence released a solo record (FDF looked at it here) and he passed away in 1997 and the band wouldn't perform without him for over a year. They tried a few guest vocalists (one being Terence Trent D'Arby whom we looked at on FDF recently but it was not until 2005, with a reality television series called "Rock Star:INXS" did INXS really make the news on US shores. In the end J.D. Fortune won the contest and became the new lead singer for INXS. The band quickly recorded "Switch" and embarked on tour. Things were not so Rosy for the band. They'd be dropped from their label in 2006 and drummer Garry Gary Beers would suffer hand issues requiring him to not play more than three shows in a row. There is confusion as to what happened with Fortune in the band. He admits to having drug problems but the reasons for his dismissal remain cryptic. Fortune claims he was let go with a handshake in a Hong Kong airport, but the band has since said they have not ruled out working with him again. In the meantime, as of this writing, the band are working on a record in the memory of Hutchence.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I saw the band on two occasions. The first was July 24, 1986 at what now is the Comcast Center in Mansfield. It was my first time at the venue and I recall getting tickets very close to, if not the day of the show. It was great, and the band were very strong live. I recall tracking down their old records and tapes soon after this show. The second and final time was on the "Kick" tour where the band was even bigger. This time was March 21, 1988 at the Centrum in Worcester, MA. Sort of an odd billing as the band was getting a little more towards the soccer mom crowd with big MTV hits, you'd find John Lydon and Public Image Limited (FDF looks at the "Generic" album here) opening the show. It was a much more "scream" filled show, but again, the band delivered in a live setting.

FDF Overall Take - Like many bands of the era, casual fans would probably grab a best of collection first and foremost. With this, and Kick the band really came in to their own as a strong alternative rock band. Listen Like Thieves is still a very strong record to this day, and it is no surprised the band still has a solid fan base.

The band's Official and myspace pages.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3's have been taken down...

This Time
Listen Like Thieves

Both tunes taken from "Listen Like Thieves" which you can buy here. (for very cheap money I might add)

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request


At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, Garry Beers is not the drummer, he is the bass player, Jon Farriss is the drummer.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger M. said...

I have "Underneath the Colours" and "Shabooh Shoobah" on my ipod, and have been debating whether I should bother with "Listen Like Thieves" again. Much like "Synchronicity" and "Let's Dance," I've always written LLT off as the point when a really interesting, prolific group/artist jumped the shark and lost a whole lot of artistic vibrancy. Maybe notoriety does that, especially to bands from the late seventies as they transitioned into the age of MTV.
Very good review, so maybe I'll give it another shot.

At 4:45 AM, Anonymous Craig Price said...

Great choice of album. As a big INXS fan, I personally thing this is their best album. While Kick was the most sucessful, I really loved this one. Kiss the Dirt, One x One, Listen Like Thieves - all great tracks. Also while on INXS, after Kick, the albums they released only had a couple of good tracks. I fell The Swing, LTT and Kick were the trilogy of the best INXS albums.
I do think that the later album, Full Moon Dirty Hearts was harshly ignored as everyone seemed to want another Kick. It is also a great album with a couple of contributors (including Ray Charles).
On a more personal note, Keep up the FDF as I still love reading it every week !

At 4:33 PM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

annon - thanks for your comment, but it should be correct at the beginning, was there another place? As a note, I listed it how they were in the line notes.

M - Give it another shot. I like some of the earlier stuff as well..there live show for this tour sold me too.

Craig - thanks for your comments and thank you for reading, really..sometimes i wonder if I have many/any readers. I appreciate your feedback.

At 3:47 AM, Blogger DirtyDave07 said...

The first time I saw INXS they were supporting The Ramones at La Trobe university in Melbourne around 79/80,I remember my mates and I asking who are these (pronounced)Inks pricks?...but,they were good,and we often caught them when they were in town playing small venues like Martinis in Carlton to a crowd of no more than 30 or 40 punters,probably 2 bucks to get in with a free beer or something like that .Hutchy was a friend of a friend and a great bloke,very normal...Thanks,a great post ,great review.


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