Celebrating 30 years of Kick by INXS

Celebrating 30 years of Kick by INXS


When it comes to striking when the iron’s hot, INXS nailed it with their 1987 album, KICK. The lead up to that involved an extensive 14-month world tour off the back of gaining international recognition with "Listen Like Thieves" and the single "What You Need". Within that 14 months was a two-month break in which Michael Hutchence made his film debut (Dogs in Space) and Andrew Farriss joined Jenny Morris to write and produce her single, "You’re Gonna Get Hurt". In early 1987, they teamed up with Jimmy Barnes for a remake of the Easybeats "Good Time" which found it’s way into the film The Lost Boys and onto the soundtrack. It was a busy time. But INXS had a head of steam and knew it. Now wasn’t the time for piss farting around.

After a quick capital city tour of Australia at the end of 1986, into 1987, the six men entered the studio in Sydney and as Kirk Pengillly says “we wanted an album where all the songs were possible singles”.

The bar was set.

For those that watched the mini-series on TV here in Australia, you know part of this next story, because it truly highlights how ‘on fire’ the band was at the time. Management was booking European dates in the hype of the next album, but producer Chris Thomas wasn’t comfortable with that, insisting the album needed more songs. He sent Hutchence and (Andrew) Farriss to Hong Kong to write more. While waiting for a cab, Farriss came up with the famous guitar part for "Need You Tonight" and told the cab driver to wait as he ‘grabbed something from his motel room’. What he was doing, as we know now, was recording the idea to tape so he could play it to Michael in Hong Kong. Once he did, Hutchence penned the lyrics in 10 minutes. They were firing hard.

KICK went Platinum (1 million sales) in the US in less than 2 months after release, and the highlights continued around the world. Now, it’s certified as 7 x Platinum in Australia, 6 x Platinum in the US, 3 x Platinum in the UK, Diamond (1 million sales) in Canada and is fast approaching 20 million sales worldwide.

The album officially spawned 5 singles, and all went top five in the US. However, add to that the songs that regularly get airplay in Australia, the total becomes 9 out of 12 tracks. Any way you shape it, that’s phenomenal, and perhaps more of a reflection on how radio supported Australian rock music then, to now.

This was the perfect storm, INXS weren’t just in it, they were controlling it, and to this day KICK remains a piece of rhythm rock perfection, and as Andrew Farriss explains, it completely on their own terms.

"I think what makes the Kick album so dynamic is that we weren't so much interested in what everybody else was doing as what we wanted to do. It's really that simple. Michael and I were extremely focused as songwriters, and the band was very intent on making a series of recordings that we could be passionate about". – Andrew Farriss

At this point of the story, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was all smooth sailing for INXS and the KICK album, but it would be remiss of me not to remind you of one small hurdle the band faced when manager Chris Murphy played it for the record company (Atlantic) in New York.  "They hated it, absolutely hated it. They said there was no way they could get this music on rock radio. They said it was suited for black radio, but they didn't want to promote it that way. The president of the label told me that he'd give us $1 million to go back to Australia and make another album". – Chris Murphy (manager)

Seems baffling to think that anyone could think of this album as anything other than the complete hit it was. As it goes, the band, and Chris, won and did it their way. KICK may be 30 this year, but to me, it remains ageless.

- Higgo 

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