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INXS “Kick” (1987)

I’m not really sure why, but for the past week or two I have had songs from INXS’s 1987 LP “Kick” in my head. Not continuously, but off and on. Mostly it would be little snippets of songs like “New Sensation”, “Need You Tonight”, “Devil Inside” and “Never Tear Us Apart”. Despite not having heard them in ages, I can still conjure up the chord progressions and the funky driving grooves of each of them. I can still close my eyes and hear that twangy guitar break in “Never Tear Us Apart”. These songs are still great fun to listen to, and the album has aged extremely well. It still sounds fresh; urgent, yet timeless.

Am I the only one that thinks Michael Hutchence sings and enunciates like a younger Mick Jagger? Can anyone else hear an echo of the Doors’ “Love Street” on “Mystify”? Do you hear the Motown influence in tracks like “Tiny Daggers”?

The above songs are just so strong that you tend to forget how good the rest of the album is, which is insane because the rest of it is equally as strong. “Mystify”, “The Loved One”, “Kick” and “Mediate” are all prime examples of how strong this album is. The weakest song on the album, “Calling All Nations”, isn’t even that bad, but where it would be fantastic on another album, it’s sub-par in the midst of this collection and just comes across as noisy.

When I first started building my record collection a few years ago, I was lucky enough to find a decent copy of this album for about $9 at the local used record shop. I decided to take a chance so I brought it home, cleaned it up, and played it through some decent headphones.

It was the first time I had actually sat through the whole album, and I was blown away. That’s one of the advantages of vinyl: it’s too much of a pain in the ass to skip tracks (It’s a feature, not a bug)! I used to have this album on CD, but one of the main problems with CDs is the convenience, don’t you think? Even though I owned the CD, I’d never actually taken the time to listen to all the songs on the album. I’d played the singles a few time but any other song that didn’t grab me within the first 10 seconds of “preview mode” got skipped. Now that I owned the vinyl, listening to the full album from start to finish was a whole other experience of these songs.

There is a cohesiveness of sound that permeates the collection of songs, despite the the fact that each piece is unique and has it’s own vibe. They don’t all sound the same, but they do really all sound like they belong together. I’m not sure whether that comes down to Bob Clearmountain’s mixing, Chris Thomas’ production, or the band themselves, but the end result is superb! There is a satisfaction that comes from hearing the final note of the last track of the side B, like a sigh that slips past your lips and releases all the tension of the day, or swallowing that first sip on a hot day. That’s not something that can be said of many albums.

I am really glad I picked up this used copy of the album, despite the few scratches and pops.

But then….

I was out shopping in Taipei one day when I stumbled across a brand new copy of the MFSL (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab) 2011 Silver Label reissue of the album. I’ve found their Silver Label re-issues to be a bit hit and miss: my B-52’s LPs all sound much better than the original pressings, but my Sisters of Mercy “First and Last and Always” was clicky as hell and unlistenable. Despite my uncertainty, I decided to buy it because I knew it was a win-win purchase: if it sounded good, it was a keeper, and if it didn’t, I could flip it for a little more than I paid for it because of the MFSL brand name. I don’t often buy second copies of albums that I already own in decent condition, but this was one that I decided deserved to get an upgrade. So, fingers crossed, I bought it and brought it home.

I am SO happy that I did! It is a super quiet pressing and the sound-stage is wide open and full frequency. The MFSL remastering pushed the album to a whole other level. My original album sounded good, but this copy sounded AMAZING. I’ve just passed the evening listening to it again as I write this, and it was time well spent.

I know that fans will say that INXS has lots of great material, and they probably do, but this is really the only album of theirs that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to from start to finish, and it is stunning. It deserves a lot more love that it gets (to my knowledge) and should be on quite a few “best of/top albums” lists if it isn’t already.

Now… I think I have to check out some of their other albums, don’t I? But honestly, can they top “KICK” or will I be disappointed? Leave a comment below! What did you think of this album? Any other INXS albums you suggest I should check out?

INXS – The Devil Inside (Official Video)

INXS – New Sensation (Official Video)

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