INXS released their first single, Simple Simon, in May 1980, and debuted it on their first TV performance on Simon Townshend’s Wonder World. It was a punky, new wave ska -pop song which clearly preceded the development of their signature musical style, although Michael Hutchence’s confident vocals hinted at the future charisma with which he would imbue the band’s songs.The lineup that would be INXS for the next 20 years was now in place, Gary Garry Beers (bass guitar and double bass); brothers Andrew (keyboards and guitar), Jon (drums, keyboards) and Tim Farriss (lead guitar); Michael Hutchence (lead vocals); and Kirk Pengilly (guitar, saxophone and backing vocals), and their debut album only threatened to really engage the listener when it hinted at the R&B, funk and dance grooves that they would ultimately bring to their future recordings.Signed to Deluxe Records, their self-titled debut album, INXS, was recorded at Trafalgar Studios (Annandale, Syd), and was co-produced by the band and Duncan McGuire (below), with all songs attributed to the band, for the only time in their career. They were touring relentlessly, up to 300 gigs a year, and had to snatch recording time between midnight and dawn, to make the most of their $10,000 production budget. The album was raw, energetic and despite McGuire’s frequent inebriation in the studio, a competent but unremarkable version of the synth-pop sounds of their contemporaries. Just Keep Walking was the single released, it too was uncomplicated new wave pop with energy but little finesse, and despite its title, the song raced along like a fast punk stomper; the slow groove that would become the band’s forte had yet to eventuate, the song crept into the top 40 at #38 and their debut album climbed to a creditable #27.
The Loved One was a seminal slice of rhythm and blues by Melbourne band the Loved Ones from 1966, front man Gerry Humphrys was one of the most accomplished blues singers in the country. Their inventive merging of percussive handclaps, Ian Clyne’s Hohner Pianet electric piano, Rob Lovett’s 12-string Eko guitar riffs and Gerry’s carnal howl on the original recording, were equally mesmerising and vibrant, and this song was one that INXS often returned to, seeking to find the DNA in its musical nooks and crannies. INXS favored a more bass-heavy arrangement which slowly built through subtle percussion and keyboards until Michael’s vocals exploded into life and the record took off, in the promo clip he is young, lithe, and oh so Jaggeresque.
Recorded twice by INXS, the original studio version was produced by Richard Clapton at Studio 301, and was issued as a stand-alone single in March 1981, in Australia only, and reached #20 on the national charts. It later featured on their 1982 compilation album Inxsive and the band re-recorded the track (in a substantially different arrangement) for their 1987 international hit album Kick, INXS also frequently performed the song live, and one such version is featured on their 1991 live video, Live Baby Live.In many ways the Loved One epitomised the counter – intuitive thinking of INXS, they remixed rock songs long before their peers, they played funk when the pub scene was hard rock, they made videos well in advance of MTV, they were one of the first sexy, all-male new wave bands, and they were always committed to global success, not just local fame. Chris Murphy (below) would come on board as their booking agent /manager with former AC/DC manager Michael Browning assisting, but Browning never saw the potential of INXS, and ultimately Murphy would partner with Gary Grant and they would become the creative management behind the band.