There are plenty of big, successful bands that get played on the radio and tour all over the world and sell lots of records (or, in today’s parlance, rack up lots of streams). But there are far fewer bands who are global superstars with an era-defining song or sound. It’s just one rung up the ladder, but that last step’s a doozy.
INXS was already a big, successful band before they released their sixth album, Kick, in October of 1987. Kick’s predecessor—1985’s Listen Like Thieves, with its breakthrough hit “What You Need”—made the Australian sextet into rising stars.
But Kick...Kick was different. Kick sold millions of copies, spawned four huge singles, and generally made Michael Hutchence and company into one of the biggest acts on the planet.
That’s the kind of album that begs for a remaster and deluxe reissue 30 years later. So here is exactly that: Kick 30, a three-CD set featuring the original album tracks and a bunch of B-sides, rare mixes and bonus tracks. (Heads up, audiophiles: A fourth disc contains INXS videos and a surround-sound mix of the album by Giles Martin and Sam Okell on Blu-ray. There’s also a newly released vinyl version of Kick remastered at 45 RPM.)
As is often the case with these kinds of releases, the rarities become more enjoyable and more vital the more you love INXS. Kick 30’s second disc offers not one but two versions of original album b-side “Move On,” a fine song that doesn’t quite burn with the same fire as those that made the album. Two other b-sides, “I’m Coming (Home)” and “On The Rocks,” sound like glorified studio experiments with the tape rolling. A glitchy and reverberant Mendelsohn Extended Mix of “Need You Tonight” works well; a riff-heavy Kick Ass Remix of “Guns In The Sky” is clunkier.
More interesting is a trio of demos that provide some welcome vocal morsels from the great Hutchence, who died in 1997. “Mystify” has a sharper edge than the album version, “The Trap” finds him flaunting moves like Jagger and “Jesus Was A Man” is raw and imperfect. The man was a compelling performer, without question.
The story more or less repeats on disc three. Highlights include a stripped down “soul version” of “Never Tear Us Apart,” the Big Bump Mix that turns “Need You Tonight” into a hyperspeed house jam, and a Kids On Bridges Remix of “Calling All Nations” the bloops and buzzes like a Daft Punk joint from back when Daft Punk was just a gleam in some robot’s eye. It’s a lot of fun!
That leaves us with disc one, aka the album proper, aka a dozen iconic-or-close-to-it songs performed with precision and soul. For INXS fans, this is a document of a band at the peak of its powers, both creatively and commercially. For anyone of listening age in the late 1980s, the singles are instant singalongs, and the deep cuts still sound familiar.
For everyone else—everyone, really—Kick 30 is a reminder of INXS’ incredible potency: hard funk and blues smashed with pop/rock ‘n’ roll, soaked in ambition, spiked with serrated guitars and sweetened with one of the great frontmen of his era. INXS burned bright and hot, not forever, but for long enough. Kick 30 is a worthy tribute to a killer band.