Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"New Sensation"

We're all watching the Winter Olympics at ChateauWithoutWhich, marveling at the tiny fractions of seconds that separate the greats from the also-rans, the feats of derring-do by those certified lunatics on the luge/skeleton/bob run and the unfeasible aerodynamic properties of Finnish ski jumpers.
What is also evident from these and all other Olympic games is how important it is to peak at just the right time, to ensure that you're working at your maximum output at exactly the right time. And this is equally true of music.
For example, how else would music writers talk about "the difficult second album" syndrome, and how do some musicians escape it? My theory is that inevitably, a band's first album will include songs that have grown over time, matured, been honed, while a second album will be rushed out in time to cash in on the exposure.
But over time, bands do learn how to manage the process, and here's an utterly fantastic tune to demonstrate. INXS spent years slogging around Australia, building a solid fanbase at home and refining their unique brand of danceable rock. By the time they got to "Listen Like Thieves", you can hear the sound is almost perfected. But then came "Kick" and the roof blew off.
This is probably INXS' finest moment - the performances are tight, the blasts of synth as good as any Memphis brass section, and the drums drive the song along as surely as a V8. Michael Hutchence tones down the fey heterosexuality of some earlier performances and instead concentrates on giving the lyric a proper, red-blooded kick in the pants. Everything just clicks into place, as if years of training and practicing have suddenly paid off in the Olympic final. This is the sound of a band that are at the very top of their game, and they know it.

2 comments:

Cocaine Jesus said...

the 'serious' music press slag these guys off but what the heck do they know?
great record. great band.

do me a big favour Lond? take the CJ bit off of Music to Grow Old to willya? it was mine but now it is strictly a team thing and no longer mine alone. would have asked you to join but didn't think that you'd have felt comfortable with that.

Natsthename said...

INXS WAS a great band! I don't know what the hell they are trying to prove now, attempting to replace Hutchence with some thrid-rate dude. It's sad.