ALBUM: Underneath The Colours
LABEL: Deluxe (Aust), Atco (USA)
SERIAL: VPL1 6601, 90185-1-Y
CD REISSUE: 1989, Mercury Records, 838 926-2
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Michael Hutchence - lead vocals * Kirk Pengilly - guitar, sax, vocals * Garry Beers - bass * John Farriss - drums, percussion * Andrew Farriss - keyboards * Tim Farriss - guitar
TRACK LISTING: 01 Stay Young * 02 Horizons * 03 Big Go Go * 04 Underneath The Colours * 05 Fair Weather Ahead * 06 Night Of Rebellion * 07 Follow * 08 Barbarian * 09 What Would You Do * 10 Just To Learn Again
Although I had come across the INXS debut and 'Underneath The Colours' from time to time, I hadn't paid much attention until the steamy summer of 1983 when I heard their 'Shabooh Shoobah' album which featured two creative and memorable singles 'The One Thing' and 'Don't Change'. By the latter part of the decade INXS were impossible to ignore, but that didn't mean I became a fan and while the 'Listen like Thieves' and 'Kick' albums were flying off record store shelves and owned the airwaves, I never really understood the fuss. Can't explain it really, just one of those things, but sometime in the mid '90s long after INXS' heyday, I found their first two LP's for pennies on the dollar and naturally my curiosity got the better of me.
The truth is I never got around to playing either record and ended up filing them away, forgotten for years until recently digging them out and giving both a spin. Better late than never I suppose but on to the music starting with the debut which was released in 1980. Loopy, sun-dappled new wave was the INXS modus operandi but while it sold well in Australia no doubt due to endless touring and opening act slots with Midnight Oil
, Cold Chisel
and British post punker's Magazine
; the band apparently were never keen on the record believing the INXS sound began to take shape with 'Underneath The Colours'. Of the two, this is certainly the better album and 'Stay Young' released as the first single with a picture sleeve stylistically influenced by Split Enz
, hints at the impressive pop song craft that would take them to the top a few years down the road. Michael Hutchence and his Mick Jagger
meet Jim Morrison
shtick is the star of the show, especially on the moodier stuff like the spacious 'Horizons', the dark rocker 'Night Of Rebellion' and the title track where his vocal style is perfectly suited, but like their first album, the use of cheap-sounding keyboards and a tendency towards the more superficial side of new wave doesn't help matters and as such 'Underneath The Colours' is a mixed bag; a dated period piece for hardcore devotees only.
2004 saw a resurgence of interest in INXS due to the reality show 'Rock Star: INXS'. In my opinion and even though a non-fan, it was hard to watch the band attempting to replace the irreplaceable Hutchence who passed away years earlier, but in the end INXS chose Canadian singer J.D. Fortune and 2005's 'Switch' faced generally good reviews. A large-scale tour followed but the relationship between Fortune and the band has had both ups and downs in the years since making it difficult to speculate on the future of one of Australia's most successful acts.
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