22 May 2011
inxs - kick
1. guns in the sky
c: what a bombastic "kick-off" to this 1987 classic LP by inxs. it is almost too much, but about halfway through the song i am sold on the menacing tune... it is a pretty angry piece of work from a band that is generally known for sexy good time dance music. "guns in the sky" is almost out of place, but the more i think about it, i do not believe it could have fit anywhere else on the LP. loud & short & in your face, it triumphantly sets up the rest of the side A.
j: I like that this record has an INXS logo for the side A label, and the classic Atlantic label for side B.
When Guns in the Sky starts and Michael Hutchence starts grunting (auto-erotically?) I almost start laughing. But they pull it off. And for an album that was intended to be their big mainstream radio push in the US out of the college rock ranks, it's a pretty gutsy move to put this at the beginning of the album. The line "I'm sick of it--it's a load of shit!" was a bigger deal in 1987, and I'm assuming got the record a parental warning sticker. This is a pretty awesome song.
2. new sensation
c: let the dance party begin! this song was glorious when it was first released & it still sounds fresh to me after all of these years. "kick" is one of those rare LPs that plays like a "best of" compilation. there are few pop/rock records that have accomplished this in the past. "born in the usa," "rumours," & "back in black" come to mind... i am sure there are others, but none of them quite match up to "kick" as far as sheer party enjoyment is concerned. i cannot recall one person in all these years that did not enjoy this LP thoroughly when i threw it on the turntable and cranked the sucker up & "new sensation" ALWAYS made people dance...
j: Yeah, I turned up the stereo when this came on. I know there was a time when I was sick of this song, but it sounds great now. They almost don't need the chorus on this song the rhythm in the verses is so great. The combination of those clean, chorused guitars and the big floor toms is indeed glorious. No wonder this album was so big.
3. devil inside
c: one of four top ten singles off the album & rightly so. "devil inside" exudes sex & it very well could be michael hutchence's signature tune. This song basically catapulted inxs to household name status for a while there. three songs into the LP and it is apparent that inxs really hit the nail on the head with this effort. their earlier work is good, no doubt, but they bring everything together here on "kick." there is no repetition, each track touches new ground, the lyrics are not the work of bob dylan or anything, though they are perfect in the context of what these songs are mainly trying to accomplish & that is to bring out the devil in you & have a good time.
j: I'm in full agreement about this being Hutchence's signature song. It's the perfect vehicle for his whispering, hip-twisting seduction schtick. Look at 'em go, look at 'em KICK. Everyone makes fun of eighties drum set-ups with all the roto-toms and shit, but THIS IS HOW YOU USE THOSE THINGS. The drums are great. The solo rips. Is it wrong to keep saying 'this song is awesome?' Because this song is awesome.
4. need you tonight
c: sweet lil' funky tune... the band became such a well-oiled machine over the years and they are peaking here. the rhythm section is tight as a tourniquet & they can cop any pop music style & still turn it into their own thing. there is nothing like musicianship and a well-crafted pop-tune. it is more difficult to accomplish than people think. "need you tonight" does this & if it was released tomorrow, it would still be a hit. timeless...
j: Need you tonight is another song that got so much airplay I was burnt out on it for a few years. I saw them at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center during this tour and I'm pretty sure this was the radio hit at the time. I was with two or three other guys and I think we were all wearing sweatpants. After the show some heshers drove by in an old Gran Torino (or something like that) and yelled 'Fuck you, jocks!' at us. Even though I wasn't much of a jock. They're making it look easy on songs like this but I would note that they went back to the well a few too many times and songs from later albums that were cut from the same cloth (Suicide Blonde, etc.) never sounded as good as this. This was the peak.
c: nice segue at the end of "need you tonight," sliding into this track seamlessly and providing a perfect break from the dance mode of the first side so far. this song would almost fit on some new age mood setting CD, like "peaceful ocean surf" or something. all it needs is some gull & whale calls... the lyrics on this one attempts to emulate dylan's "subterranean homesick blues" & it does not quite work, though they are harmless enough to hang there in the background & do little to damage the song.
j: So they take their radio hit and segue into a talky, ambient, Lou Reed-ish meditation. The lyrics probably aren't as deep as they wanted but who cares. Sometimes when you hear a saxophone on eighties records you go "oh no" but it sounds great here.
6. the loved one
c: great closer to the first side, the chorus really makes it. my only complaint is the choice of the keyboard sound. i feel it really dates the song & it belongs to the eighties & is a bit cheesy. thankfully, it does not dominate the song. great love song as far as love songs go, "inxs" keeps it nice & simple & never crosses the line that many love songs do. you know that line... it is the one that makes you want to gag yerself and empty the contents of yer stomach all over yer $500 turntable or drag the needle across the wax and smash the record to a thousand pieces.
j: This song was invisible to me for a long time, I have no idea why. That fantastic soaring chorus against the obtuse verses! The climbing pre-chorus a la Duran Duran! The lyrics are REALLY banal but it doesn't seem to matter. Hutchence was a great singer and he could do stuff like this in his sleep. This is an awesome song!
1. wild life
c: one of my faves on the LP & i am surprised this was not the fifth top ten single off of "kick." it is short & sweet & what the heck is that cool whoop-whooping sound they incorporate 10 seconds into the song? that one little bit makes the tune.
j: I feel like I haven't been hard enough on this record yet because I'm in a good mood. But listening to the first side was what put me in a good mood in the first place! Okay, I'll say that this isn't one of my favorites on the record, in fact it's probably towards the bottom. It reminds of a Glenn Frey solo song in a weird way, and that's never a good thing. Boy, that's a terrible thing to say about any song. I take it back. It's decent.
2. never tear us apart
c: what good dance record doesn't have at least one slow dance song? "never tear us apart" serves it up well, but i am glad it is the only one on the record. this song pretty much caused every teen girl in 1987 to go out and buy a door length poster of michael hutchence and super-glue it to their wall, in the hope that it would never come down... eventually, like all love based on infatuation, they would just grow out of it & replace it with something else... i kinda feel the same about this song.
j: The keyboards are fantastic. Yes, it's kind of a cookie-cutter slow song, but it really succeeds. Think of the ballad on the Godfathers record (from roughly the same time period) for an example of a disgusting failure that practically ruins an otherwise great album. This is nothing like that, and that record had more punk/hard rock pretensions.
c: definitely my favorite track on the LP. love the piano part & once the song kicks in, it never lets go of you. what a great foot tapping, head nodding pop gem and i am mystified as to why this was not a number one hit. the damn song just puts one big smile on my face. there really is nothing else to say.
j: This is so great. They never did stuff like this again, as far as I know. I'm pretty sure this was never released as a radio single. WHY NOT?????? On the bus on the senior class trip to Busch Gardens the pretty, popular girl sitting in front of me heard me blaring this on my Walkman and turned around to tell me how much she loved this song. I don't know what I said, but the conversation didn't last that long. I blew it, I guess. I'm such a fucking dork sometimes. But this is an awesome song!
c: this almost could have been the last tune of the record & it makes total sense as to why inxs made this the title-track of the LP. the second side has been relentless as far as quality & by this point you are almost forgetting how good the first side was. most of the singles were taken from the first side of "kick," but i argue that the flip side is stronger. perhaps it is due to less radio play when it was released, but i do not think so...
j: I wonder if there was some label pressure to make this the first song instead of the dissonant, swear-word containing Guns in the Sky. I don't know anything, I'm just guessing. Though this also sounds like a closer, as you note. I'm not sure if I like all the horns and it sounds weirdly incomplete, like their could have been more parts and pushed this a bit further and made it longer. There really aren't any songs I hate on this album, but the 'sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked' is kind of lame. I keep thinking of the Mounds/Almond Joy line "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't."
5. calling all nations
c: a close second to "mystify" for my favorite track. getting a little pissed here that i am having a hard time finding anything negative to point out as this LP blasts further on. my headset is blaring & i just want to hear this song another five times or so & not have to scratch my head trying to figure out something clever or insightful to say about the song, so i won't. "calling all nations" simply rocks.
j: This is an awesome song! This makes me want to pop my collar and dance in my topsiders.
6. tiny daggers
c: even though i stated earlier that the title-track may have been a better closer for the LP, upon listening again, "tiny daggers" does deserve the honor. it has just the right touch of wistfulness about it that ultimately leaves you wanting to flip the record & play the whole damn thing over, which i am going to do soon as finish writing this crap. so, kudos to inxs... "kick" is nearly a perfect pop record & i find very little to fault with what is easily their finest effort. i am not surprised that beck decided to cover this LP from start to finish. though a noble effort, him & all his hip friends were unable to do it justice. some records are best left alone. "kick" is one of them. just throw it on again...
j: Tiny Daggers has those great verses which actually remind me of seventies Rolling Stones, the phrasing and the singing. And 'ever stop to wonder' of course reminds me of Stairway to Heaven, so there's an overall seventies vibe in this song for me. It's amazing how solid this album is! I would have to agree it's their best record, with Listen Like Thieves a respectable second place. It makes me sad that a lot of younger listeners will probably take one look at the cover and go "Ugh, eighties major label shit." Their loss, I guess. This is an awesome record!
Since I haven't mentioned it anywhere else, when I saw them at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center the last encore was 'Don't Change' and yes, it was stellar. There were these green spotlights shooting out from behind the band during that first, slow guitar notes and then the big floodlights came up when the song kicks in with those big cymbal crashes. That's one of those moments you wish you could rewind to and replay.