Tuesday, May 17, 2011

30 Songs, 30 Days, Day Eleven: Original Sin by INXS

I know, I know...I have been falling down on the job. I promise I will make it up to you. There might be cake involved.

But at least, after that disappearing act I pulled, my mp3 player managed to drag out a good one. This is a fairly popular single from what was a fairly popular band at the time, Australia's INXS.

Oddly enough, an earlier INXS song was discussed in the final 30Ss30Ds of last year, a song that prompted me to go off on a screed about how INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence is defined by the scandal of how he died, whereas other pop singers have their scandals washed away by their deaths (If you're interested in visiting that previous discussion of "Keep On Walking," just go here.).

This single addresses interracial romance--something was in the alt-rock water back in 1984, because a lot of other musical acts started telling us that interracial relationships were Not As Evil As We Thought--and it's pretty blatant in hammering its agenda home. Hell, the whole song equates how some people think of races mixing as the original sin! But, unlike other songs in this issue-music sub-genre, the ultimate outlook of the song is hopeful. Hutchence, in between all the yelping and vocal gyrating that were a signature of the band's later albums, tells us of his dream where the 'black boy, white girl' dreaming of a brand new day will get it...and guess what? His dream was right--to the point where it's been speculated that the biracial portion of the world's population may be the dominant portion in a couple of generations.

Not surprisingly, the band got death threats for expressing this sentiment. Andrew Farris talks of a fan throwing a gun up onstage at one show, telling them they might need it.

Comparing this song, done as the band was reaching the pinnacle of its creativity (its next two albums, Listen Like Theives and Kick, would contain a number of Top 40 hits, plus a couple of songs like "New Sensation" that are still rock radio standards), to the earlier "Keep On Walking" shows a marked improvement in their musicianship. Granted, they still don't hook up with the man who'll be their production magician, Chris Thomas until next album, but they're experimenting with different styles and textures to their benefit. Hell, this song is produced by Nile Rodgers, which explains the multilayered sound, the undeniable funky rhythm guitar and bass lines and the way the choruses seem to soar in from the rafters (incidentally, that's Darryl Hall doing background vocals). And I think the band benefits from the fuller arrangements of these later albums--although even I will admit that they go overboard with the orchestration once the 90's hit. The wildly overproduced Welcome To Wherever You Are should probably have been the last album, and is pretty the last time the band did anything listenable with Hutchence at the helm. And sadly, the Farriss Brothers and company have embarrassed themselves time and again since Hutchence's death in 1997, from naming Jon Stevens their new lead singer just months before he left for a solo career in 2002 to allowing a reality show to find its lead singer, J.D. Fortune in 2004 only to fire him after the release of that incarnation's one and only album, Switch, to getting into a public war of words with Fortune in 2009. And this year, they're prepping that last resort of a band that has become the musical equivalent of the walking dead, an album of 'reworkings' of their greatest hits with big name celebrity singers.

It's sad when people won't acknowledge that a missing member cannot be replaced....

Here's the very....ummmm....peculiar video, which makes it look like the boys were auditioning for a teen version of the ludicrous Michael Douglas movie Black Rain. The video is credited to Yasuhiko Yamamoto, a Tokyo advertising director. According to Kirk Pengilly on the official site, it was intentionally meant to be very, very Japanese.

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