Sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked: INXS’s video profile features their best videos

By on March 5, 2019

In 1992, during our syndication era, Night Flight video profiled, as Pat Prescott tells us, the band from down under who’ve come out on top, INXS!

You can find this nearly hour-long special — featuring some of INXS’s best videos, along with a one-off interview with the Farriss brothers — on Night Flight Plus.

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Four of the music videos featured here were directed by Melbourne-based director Richard Lowenstein: “Need You Tonight”/”Mediate” (we’ve split them up here for some reason, although “Mediate” was never released as a separate single), “What You Need,” and “Suicide Blonde.”

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“What You Need” — which features layers of rotoscope animation — garnered the band their first MTV Music Award (for “Best Group Video”) in 1986.

We’re also treated to two videos directed by Japanese filmmaker Yashuhiko Yamamoto, “I Send a Message” (filmed inside Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple) and “Original Sin.”

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For their video for “Devil Inside,” INXS had called in a favor from director Joel Schumacheer, who’d lensed The Lost Boys movie.

Schumacher had arranged with INXS to direct future videos of theirs if they’d allow for their songs — collaborations with Scottish-Australian rock singer and Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes, including their cover of the Easybeats’ “Good Times,” and Barnes’ breakout solo hit, “Laying Down the Law” — to appear on the Lost Boys soundtrack.

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Schumacher shot the band performing one night at a California beach bar to a bunch of bikers, skaters and surfers.

The video was later nominated for Best Editing at the 1988 VMA awards, losing to another INXS video, “Need You Tonight”/”Mediate.”

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Also featured are the videos for “This Time” (d. Peter Sinclair), “Listen Like Thieves” (d. Karl Steinberg), “Disappear” (from Troy Davies’ X Documentary), and “The One Thing” (d. Søren Jensen).

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The core of INXS were initially formed by the talented Farriss brothers — guitarist Tim Farriss, keyboardist Andrew Farriss, and drummer Jon Farriss — who’d moved with the Farriss family from their hometown of Perth to a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales.

That’s where they met Hutchence, a fellow student at Davidson High School, who had recently moved to Sydney with his family from Hong Kong.

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In 1977, Hutchence and Andrew Farriss (primary lyricist and songwriter, respectively), along with Tim and Jon, guitarist Kirk Pengilly and bassist Garry Beers formed what started out as the Farriss Brothers before their name change, reportedly inspired by English band XTC touring Australia.

For the next twenty years, INXS would become one of the biggest bands on the planet, releasing a total of sixty-one singles from twelve studio albums and ultimately selling more than forty million records.

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In their first ten years as a band, INXS went from playing pubs across Australia to filling modest-size venues in the United States, graduating from opening act (for the Go-Go‘s, Adam & the Ants, the Kinks, and others) to stadium headliners.

Along the way they’d signed with major label WEA Australia, who released their third album, Shabooh Shoobah, in October 1982 on the American label Atco Records.

Their single “The One Thing” attracted the attention of MTV, and soon the band were lensing videos for nearly every song they released as a single.

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In 1983, INXS — who were obsessed with producer Nile Rodgers‘s solo LP, Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove — asked him to produce a controversial song with an interracial theme called “Original Sin,” which gave them their first #1 single in Australia.

They were soon charting with hits all around the world, ultimately breaking globally in the mid-’80s as one of the top bands of the decade with their 1985 album Listen Like Thieves, which shot up the charts on the strength of Top Ten hits like “What You Need” and the title track, which topped out at #11 on Billboard’s charts.

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Read more about INXS below.

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1987 was probably INXS’s career high point.

The band’s Kick album (#3 Billboard Top 200) ultimately sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, and spawned a number of international chart hits, four of them U.S. Top Ten singles: “New Sensation,” “Devil Inside,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” and their only U.S. #1 chart-topper, “Need You Tonight.”

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A few years later, Hutchence said the title track “Kick” — “Sometimes you kick/sometimes you get kicked” — was “the great Zen song of all time” (it was perhaps a reference to a satori, a Buddhist enlightenment experience translated variously as a “sudden illumination,” “sudden awakening,” or, simply, “a kick in the eye”).

The single failed to chart on Billboard‘s Hot 100 (it did make it to #33 on U.S. Mainstream Rock Songs Chart).

1987 was also the year Hutchence made his acting debut in Richard Lowenstein’s Dogs in Space, his tribute to his hometown’s post-punk music scene circa 1978.

Hutchence (who plays “Sam,” leader of the punk band Dogs in Space) spends most of the drugged-up punks-in-love cult hit crawling around on all fours grunting and sniffing around for drugs.

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The 1990 INXS album X, produced by the legendary Chris Thomas, saw the band’s popularity beginning to wane.

Only two of its singles, “Suicide Blonde” and “Disappear,” made any major impact on the U.S. pop charts.

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On November 22, 1997, Hutchence — depressed and under the influence of alcohol, cocaine, Prozac and prescription drugs — was found hanged in his Ritz-Carlton hotel room in Sydney.

Although disputed by the coroner, his estranged girlfriend — UK TV presenter Paula Yates (of The Tubefame) — claimed during a 1999 interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he’d died as a result of auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Watch Night Flight’s INXS Video Profile — and more video profiles, here and here — on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.