Need You Tonight – (A Farriss/M Hutchence) 1987 and New Sensation (M Hutchence/A Farriss) – INXS 1988
Just as producer Chris Thomas had managed to extract one killer single from Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence in What You Need for the Listen Like Thieves album, he would again insist that a final killer song was required to become the lead single off the Kick album. Farris/Hutchence again combined to produce what would be the biggest hit for the band when Need You Tonight was lifted off their all-conquering album Kick. It was their only US #1 hit and their most successful release in the UK charting at #2, it made #3 locally and was re-released after the screening of the TV mini-series INXS: Never Tear Us Apart and again charted at #28 in 2014.Andrew Farris was heading to Hong Kong to meet with Hutchence where they were to create the new hit single, he booked a taxi to take him to Sydney airport, he hadn’t finished the song when the taxi arrived, so he asked the driver to wait until he had done so, to which the driver responded, “you’re writing a song, yeah sure mate”. Forty minutes later he emerged with a cassette in hand that contained the shimmering rhythm guitar riff, bass line and drum pattern that would become Need You Tonight. Unknown to Farriss, Hutchence had written lyrics for a song but had no melody, once they were reunited in Hong Kong they put the two together, taped a demo, and that was how this song was ultimately recorded.
Need You Tonight was more electronic than previous releases combining opening rimshots and bass, with sequencers and regular drum tracks interspersed with layered guitars, clicks and electronica. The video blended live action with animation and combined two songs – Need You Tonight with Mediate, it was rated one of the top 100 music videos of all time by MTV, the song was also convincingly covered by Bonnie Raitt, in 2015.
The lyrics are basically about propositioning a girl which are blunt, but infused with the sexy purr of the leonine front-man Hutchence “All you got is this moment… There’s something about you girl that makes me sweat.” We’re not sure if the liaison is consummated, but Michael ends the song with “Slide over here and give me a moment/I’ve got to let you know/You’re one of my kind.” The abrupt ending to the song was deliberate as the band wanted to segue straight to the next album track Mediate, which was not intended to be released as a single, but the response to the promo video was so positive that Mediate was also released as a single. The promo video for Mediate was inspired by Bob Dylan’s clip for his 1965 hit Subterranean Homesick Blues, where he stands in a lane known as Savoy Steps, next to the Savoy Hotel in London, and flips cue cards which are the lyrics of the song, as beat poet Alan Ginsberg stands behind him and off to the left of screen. In the INXS clip Richard Lowenstein combined live action with animation, when the flip card “sax solo” appears Kirk Pengilly commences a sax solo, and beneath the lyric flip card “a special date”, the card reads 9-8-1945, which in the Australian date format, is 9 August 1945, is the date on which an atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.
Need You Tonight has been compared to Queen’s 1980 hit Another One Bites The Dust and as an influence on the Fine Young Cannibals 1989 hit She Drives Me Crazy, the song was also covered and remixed by Melbourne group Rogue Traders in 2003 and re-titled One of My KInd, and more recently Dua Lipa’s 2020 hit Break My Heart used extensive samples from this song, and Hutchence and Andrew Farriss received co-writing credits. The album Kick, produced by Chris Thomas at the Rhinoceros Studios (Syd), was a smash hit here and overseas selling over twenty million copies worldwide and successfully blending the slamming hard rock back beat of the earlier Listen Like Thieves album with more fluid dance grooves of The Swing.
New Sensation was the third single lifted from the Kick album and featured a signature Kirk Pengilly sax solo and good time lyrics about a partying lifestyle. From the keyboard intro through the jangly guitar riffs there is an infectious, shuffling, dance beat that can’t be ignored, it was very upbeat with a killer chorus. Hutchence was rivalling Jagger and others as a first-rate sex symbol of rock, slender, sinewy, and lithe, his stage presence was magnetic. New Sensation charted #3 in the USA, #8 in Australia and #25 in the UK, at this time INXS were unstoppable.