INXS – Kick (1987)
This album was released when I was twelve years old and, as I did with much of the music of the eighties, I completely ignored it in favour of my beloved sixties and seventies albums. However, when I bought a “Soft Metal” collection in 1990 (primarily because it had an Alice Cooper track I liked on it), there was an INXS track on it – “Devil Inside”. At first I didn’t really care for it, after all it doesn’t sound much like metal, but then, after playing the album a few times, I found myself singing along to to the INXS and really enjoying it in spite of myself. Years went by and I heard a few more INXS tracks on the radio and it was a fairly similar story with each – I didn’t like them, they were way too pop, until their overwhelming, irresistible catchy hooks gave me no choice. It was in the mid-nineties that I heard “Never Tear Us Apart” for the first time and that was the first INXS song I heard that I loved instantly. It was at that point that I decided to go and buy an album with as many of these catchy tracks on it as possible. I looked through the racks of the record store I worked in and found a studio album with all of my favourites INXS tracks on it – and it was “Kick”. “New Sensation”, “Devil Inside”, “Need You Tonight”, “Never Tear Us Apart” and “Mystify”, all on one studio album.
It still bugs me that I like this album so much. It has all of the elements of music I really shouldn’t care for – over-produced instruments, songs written to fill stadiums rather than to fill you will emotion, they were branded “corporate rock” at the time, but the riffs are so tight, the vocal performances so brilliant, the melodies and hooks so lovable, it was a case of not really having much choice in the matter. It’s largely brilliant. There is even an excellent cover of an obscure 1966 Australian single “The Loved One” which works perfectly. It does, however, fall short of being labelled a true classic and, as well as the last few tracks being a little ordinary compared to the rest of the songs, there’s something about “Kick”, as a whole, that still doesn’t allow me to take it fully seriously. It’s an album that entertains rather than thrills. With the exception of “Never Tear Us Apart”, it doesn’t have a great deal of depth and remains a rather meritorious pop-rock album rather than a world-class piece of work that people would list as amongst their very favourite albums of all time. Still, as slightly superficial pieces of pure entertainment go, it’s undoubtedly one of the best.