It's been a few years since INXS had a bona fide hit on its hands. Their last couple of albums for Atlantic found the band trying out some varied studio directions, but not delivering the kind of memorably funky singles that put the Australian act on the map in the '80s.
INXS released a Greatest Hits album in 1994 and ended its longtime relationship with Atlantic Records. Now the band has resurfaced on Mercury, with a handful of solid calves-coaxers — and some less intoxicating offerings.
Elegantly Wasted starts out strong, with "Show Me (Cherry Baby)" a wicked vocal and guitar slide. Michael Hutchence radiates desire as he sings of a girl with "the wildest heart" and croons suggestively "oh cherry baby...show me how."
Hot on "Cherry"'s heels comes the title track and current single, "Elegantly Wasted," an instant INXS dancefloor pleaser. Choppy funk guitar riffs, a circular bassline, Hutchence dancing around the beat like a preacher — this is what INXS does best. All the tricks from "What You Need" and "Devil Inside" are here, and they still work a decade later.
"Everything" slows down a bit, taking an easygoing "Shine Like It Does" approach before launching into a gospel rave of a chorus. "Girl On Fire" rants with horns and a konking drum. And "Searching," gets into something of a Motown funk. Other songs get into more of a rut than a groove ( "She Is Rising" and the Eastern-tinged twang of "We Are Thrown Together" and "Shake the Tree"). It's not INXS' best album by any means, but it is a welcome return.
Capitalizing on the recent Kiss reunion tour, Mercury has released a Greatest Kiss compilation featuring the band's best tracks, from "Detroit Rock City," "Hard Luck Woman" and "Deuce" to "Beth," "Strutter" and "Rock and Roll All Nite." There's also a new live version of "Shout It Out Loud." ...If you've been missing the sounds of early '80s lite metal a la Bon Jovi, check out the eoponymous new indie label band Dukes Nitemare on Star USA Records. You might need to order this one (800) 382-7015, but if you like Bon Jovi-style bar bands with some nice guitar licks and pop metal vocals, it's worth your while...While we're on the subject of nostalgia, a huge stack of oldies collection have crossed my desk lately: The Hipo Records label has issued a four-volume set of "Cigar Classics." Volume 1: The Standards covers The Four Aces, The Mills Brothers, The Platters, Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland. Volume 2 Urban Fire features Pointer Sisters, The Gap Band, and one hit wonders Rose Royce's "Car Wash," and Hot Butter's "Popcorn." Volume 3: Cool Smokes includes songs from John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Ramsey Lewis and Zoot Simms and Volume 4: Smoking Lounge includes a strange grabbag of orchestras (Billy Vaughn, Robert Maxwell, Frank Hunter) pianists Ferrante & Teicher and William Shatner (performing "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.") ...The Right Stuff label has just issued a new five-disc Hot Rod Rock series of compilations (titles include Back Seat Movers, Rev It Up and Big Boss Instrumentals). Focussing on the '60s, the discs include oldies like The Chiffons "He's So Fine," Dion & The Belmonts' "A Teenager In Love," Jan & Dean's "Drag City," The Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coupe," Book T. & The MG's "Green Onions" and The Ventures' "Walk Don't Run"...Rhino Records continues with its Heartbeats series of collections (songs chosen strictly by Rhino's female employees). The latest offerings are Closer Than A Kiss: Crooner Classics, and Behind Closed Doors: '70s Swingers. Crooner Classics includes songs from Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Sammy Davis Jr., and Bing Crosby. The '70s Swingers disc includes Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Gino Vanellie, Leo Sayer, David Soul, Wayne Newton, John Travolta, B.J. Thomas, Kris Kristofferson Tony Orlando & Dawn and more.