Monday, February 27, 2017

INXS B-sides and rarities 1980 - 2012

As an adjunct to my INXS rarity reviews page, I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of even more obscure INXS songs, spanning their entire recording career from their first single in 1980 to their apparent last recording in 2012. Most of these songs were B-sides to the band’s singles. The surprising thing is that many of these songs did not feature their late frontman Michael Hutchence – not necessarily because they were recorded after his death, because 32 of these 37 tracks were recorded before Hutchence’s 1997 passing. Many of INXS’ little-known B-sides were written, produced, and performed by one member of the band. Some were instrumentals, while others featured vocals by band members who usually did not sing the lead.

Beneath the embedded playlist below, I’ve written short explanations for each track. I hope you enjoy this playlist as much as I do.





1. Simple Simon (1980) -- The A-side of the first INXS single, released in Australia the same year as the band's self-titled debut album (which did not include this single's two tracks). It has the sort of Joe Jackson-like new wave sound that dominated that album. It’s a good, fast-moving song to start off a recording career with.

2. We Are The Vegetables (1980) -- The B-side to "Simple Simon". A decent two-minute hard rock song infused with the punk attitude.

3. Scratch (1980) -- The B-side to the single "Just Keep Walking". An adequate song that would have fit in well on the first album.

4. Lacavocal (1981) -- The B-side of the 1981 Australian single "Stay Young" is a mellow electronic instrumental version of that song. A good piece of experimentation.

5. The Loved One (1981) -- The A-side of another early non-LP single. Remake of a 1966 song by the Loved Ones, which INXS later remade again on the 1987 Kick album. Not exactly as primitive as the Loved Ones' original, but not as posh as the Kick version.

6. The Unloved One (1981) -- Pointlessly strange, jazzy instrumental B-side to "The Loved One". It doesn't go anywhere.

7. Prehistoria (1981) -- The B-side of the "Underneath The Colours" single. A better, more atmospheric instrumental experiment.

8. Phantim Of The Opera (1982) -- One of two B-side tracks for the single "The One Thing". Written and produced by Tim Farris, the track places recordings of film dialogue and operatic voices on top of a languid instrumental groove.

9. Space Shuttle (1982) -- The other B-side track from "The One Thing", an odd Talking Heads-like recording. Andrew Farris is rumored to have contributed some vocals to the track; there is also a female present.

10. Go West (1982) -- The B-side of the Australian "Don't Change" single. Not the Village People song, but a fairly straightforward rock ballad that is unlike most other INXS songs.

11. The Sax Thing (1983) -- A B-side for the single "To Look At You". An old-fashioned jazz instrumental written and produced by Kirk Pengilly. Good stuff, though not very INXS-like.

12. You Never Used To Cry (1983) -- Written, produced and sung by drummer Jon Farris, this song appeared on an Australian limited-edition two-single set with "To Look At You". It's an oddball doo-wop number, apparently recorded with no other instruments besides drums. This song was used in the 1984 film No Small Affair, which was the film debut of actor Jon Cryer.

13. Long In Tooth (1982) -- B-side of the U.S. "Don't Change" single. A mellow synth-pop song with a xylophone.

14. Any Day But Sunday (1983) -- Another song written by Tim Farris, who also talk-sang it. A wispy dance-club number, nothing more. This was also used in the movie No Small Affair.

15. Mechanical (1984) -- B-side for the single "I Send A Message". A pointless synth-pop experiment, "mechanical" indeed.

16. The Harbour (1984) -- The B-side of "Dancing On The Jetty". An ambient piece with Eastern-style instrumentation and sea sound effects. Very unusual for INXS, but it's nice and serene.

17. Merry Christmas (1984) -- A fan-club-only 7-inch single, sung by Kirk Pengilly. A very '80's holiday song, with electronic bells and slickly produced guitar strumming.

18. I'm Over You (1985) -- B-side to "This Time". Likable enough mid-tempo synth-pop.

19. Six Knots (1986) -- On the B-side of "Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)". A one-minute trifle, written, produced, and sung by Kirk Pengilly.

20. Begotten (1986) -- A jazz instrumental number, written and performed by Pengilly. Pleasant and relaxing.

21. I'm Coming Home (1987) -- B-side of "Need You Tonight". Amusing dance club track composed by Tim Farriss, who presumably provides the filtered diabolical talk-singing.

22. On The Rocks (1987) -- B-side of "Devil Inside". Another likable jazz instrumental from Pengilly.

23. Move On (1987) -- B-side track on the U.S. 12-inch single and Japanese CD-single "Never Tear Us Apart". A good Hutchence-sung track that would have fit in well on Kick or X.

24. Everybody Wants U Tonight (1990) -- B-side of "Suicide Blonde". Five minutes of electronic noodling and doodling. It sounds more like Hutchence's 1989 Max Q side project than like INXS.

25. Soothe Me (1990) -- B-side of "Bitter Tears". A fun song sung by Andrew Farriss, who sounds like he's mimicking Hutchence.

26. The Other Side (1990) -- B-side of "By My Side" and the "Bitter Tears" CD single. Sort of an electronic classical instrumental by Kirk Pengilly, dominated by an organ sound.

27. It Ain't Easy (1992) -- B-side track from "Heaven Sent" CD-single. A slinky track co-sung by Hutchence and Andrew Farriss.

28. 11th Revolution (1992) -- B-side track from "Heaven Sent" CD-single. A decent hard-rock instrumental.

29. Deepest Red (1992) -- B-side track from "Heaven Sent" and "Not Enough Time" CD-singles. An album-worthy Hutchence-sung track.

30. Ptar Speaks (1992) -- B-side track from U.K. "Baby Don't Cry" CD-single. A bizarre semi-instrumental creation by Kirk Pengilly.

31. Questions (Instrumental) (1992) -- B-side of "Baby Don't Cry". Longish instrumental version of the short lead-off track from Welcome To Wherever You Are. Good track with a noticeably Eastern influence.

32. Firma Terror (1992) -- B-side track from the U.S. "Not Enough Time" CD single. Sung by bassist Garry Gary Beers, it's the type of tense social commentary that the Clash might have recorded if they were still around in '92.

33. I Get Up (2003) -- A-side of an Australian single, the only studio recording INXS made with singer Jon Stevens (formerly of Noiseworks), who was the first official INXS lead singer after Michael Hutchence's death in 1997. It's an enjoyable song that resembles something from the Listen Like Thieves era. Stevens sang it the same basic way Hutchence probably would have, although he was not an exact soundalike.

34. Easy Easy (2005) -- Sung by JD Fortune, who became the lead singer of INXS after winning on the TV reality show Rock Star: INXS. At the end of the series' final episode, the song "Easy Easy" was introduced as the intended first single from the upcoming album. However, "Easy Easy" never appeared as a single, or even as a track on the subsequent Switch album! It's hard to figure why, because the song has an authentic INXS groove, and Fortune's lead vocal uncannily recalls Hutchence.

35. Let's Ride (2005) -- Another song sung by JD Fortune. It is not included on most versions of the Switch album, but is available on iTunes as a bonus track. This one recalls the X album era, although Fortune's mimicry of Hutchence is less obvious this time. (This track is not to be confused with "Let It Ride", from the 2004 EP Bang The Drum).

36. Tiny Summer (2012) -- During their final 14 months in 2011 and 2012, INXS replaced Fortune with a Northern Irish singer named Ciaran Gribbin, who has also collaborated with Madonna and Snow Patrol. Gribbin had hoped to record new material with INXS, but the band unexpectedly called it quits in November 2012. This demo suggested a U2-like musical direction; Gribbin's vocals resemble Bono's more than Hutchence's.

37. We Are United (live) (2012) -- The only INXS song properly released with Ciaran Gribbin on lead vocals, and it may be their recording swan song. It was written by Gribbin and Andrew Farriss to celebrate Australia Day. It was available by download only on iTunes Australia and the Petrol Electric website. Gribbin proved to be a likable frontman; in this live performance video, he comes on a bit like JD Fortune!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Feelies "Uncovered" (2016 Record Store Day EP)

The Feelies are about to release a new album on February 24th, titled In Between, on Bar/None Records. This is certainly big news for followers of the New Jersey indie-rock band, whose albums are few and far between. In Between is only the sixth full-length Feelies album to be released since 1980 (the year of their debut LP Crazy Rhythms), and it is their first album in six years, since they issued Here Before in 2011 – after a two-decade hiatus.

Although it has been six years since their last full-length album, the Feelies did issue a four-song EP titled Uncovered for Record Store Day 2016. Limited to 1,200 copies, the 12-inch, 45 rpm vinyl EP contained covers of songs by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the Doors, and Patti Smith. It’s a decent little record that delivers exactly what it promises, rendering the four covered songs through the Feelies’ guitar-based garage rock sensibilities. Glenn Mercer’s vocals sound less restrained on this EP than on most Feelies album tracks, suggesting that playing the songs of his influences tends to bring out his more intense side.

The EP begins with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Seven Days”, which has the kind of guitar jangle that the Byrds might have given to the song – that is, if the Byrds had recorded a rendition of the song in a garage. The cover of Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues” is appropriately raw and ragged, with instrumentation that owes as much to the Velvet Underground as it does to Crazy Horse. Their rendition of the Doors’ “Take It As It Comes” is somewhat faithful to the original, except that it substitutes the usual Feelies second guitar in place of the original’s keyboards. The best of the four tracks is the cover of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot”, sung by bassist Brenda Sauter. Although Sauter’s vocals do not quite have the same haunting quality as Smith’s did on the original, this version has a power of its own, boosted further by a couple of Neil Young-like guitar bursts.

Notes: Although none of these four tracks were available commercially before they were issued on Uncovered, two of them did show up decades earlier on rare discs. “Dancing Barefoot” was on the B-side of the 1988 12-inch promo single “Away” (where Glenn Mercer was credited as the songwriter!), and on a flexi-disc included with Issue #35 of The BOB magazine. “Barstool Blues” appeared on a French two-song promo CD-single in 1990, and on the 12-inch promo single “Doin’ It Again” in 1991.


The Feelies - Uncovered

The Feelies “Uncovered” EP (Bar/None / Coyote BAR-LP-240) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Seven Days (Bob Dylan)
2. Take It As It Comes (The Doors)
3. Dancing Barefoot (Smith/Kral)
4. Barstool Blues (Neil Young)