So, what do you do years after your iconic rock star frontman and pretty posterboy commits suicide and need some quick dosh? Cobble together some old tracks and release an ill thought compilation album with a so-called ‘unreleased’ track or two? Sound familiar?
Evidently, some marketing bod thought that one INXS ‘best of’ wasn’t enough. Well, one studio album and one death by hanging later than the last greatest hits compilation comes another: the so-called ‘definitive’ INXS compilation. Which is nothing of the sort, if truth be told. If you’ve already got the 1994 “Greatest hits” compilation, you don’t need this: it duplicates over 13 tracks in a slightly different order. The so-called ‘unreleased’ tracks you might already have if you bought the Austrailian remasters earlier in the year. It’s a cheap cash-in designed to raise the band's profile, currently clogging up the shelves of Tesco's and Sainsbury’s as we speak, a risible document of crass commercialism.
If there ever was a band so inappropriately named it was INXS. Let's face it, INXS were brilliantly effective at what they did – polished, superslick, anaemic stadium funk rock, produced to within a inch of FM radio perfection with all the passion of a soft drink commercial. Problem is, we still have Bon Jovi and U2, we don’t need INXS anymore, especially not desperately flogging their arses around half empty arenas with an ersatz replacement singer no-one’s heard of.
But it rocks, albeit in a Virgin Radio / VH1 way. The way your dad might approve. It's got swagger, it's got funk, it's got... it's got to sell, otherwise their career is fucked basically. Musically though, INXS were the stadium rock band it never was cool to like. They were always written off as pop-rock-lite. There are some moments of pop genius here: “Baby don’t cry” is sumptous and sweeping, epic, and grandesque – “Need you tonight” is slick, efficient and slinky – “New Sensation” is supersmooth stadium rock at its finest and “Devil Inside” is just as good. But “Born to be wild”? It’s just hamfisted and horrendous, the quirky New-wave of “Just Keep Walking” is as out of place here as unimaginable, and “The Gift” is still shit.
Add on a couple of bonus tracks and presto, it’s a shoddy, ill thought-out, inconsistent compilation that occasionally shines with brilliant moments, but seems like it's been put together by a committee with all the sense of an army of lemmings trying to invade a cliff. the absence of tracks such as “This Time”, “Burn for you”, “Not Enough Time”, as well as signature tune and finest moment “Don’t Change” is so criminal the compilers should be put away for 20 to life in a Sydney hotel room with only a rope for company. If you want a proper overview of the bands career, buy the 42 track “best of” compilation on Rhino records, its got twice as many tracks and every single, and would have been a far better idea to release than this.
Definitive, my arse.
6Graham Reed's Score