INXS- 1977-1997

INXS59

Devil Inside – (A Farriss/M Hutchence) and Never Tear Us apart (M Hutchence/A Farriss) INXS 1988

 The band were embracing their inner demons with Devil Inside which had all the sexual menace, carnal intent, sexy hooks, and artful riffs required to lift the song to international success. An almost inaudible devilish snigger opens proceedings, Hutchence’s vocals are at once whisperly seductive and then satanically complicit “…every single one of us the Devil inside”.inxs8The rhythm section of Gary Garry Beers (bass) and Jon Farriss (percussion) drives the song forward from the outset, Tim Farris and Kirk Pengilly delivered insistent guitar riffs, and Andrew Farriss on keyboards was understated but effective.INXS73Devil Inside became the band’s signature tune, it ranks up there with other hits in the “devil” genre such as the Rolling Stones Sympathy for The Devil, Van Halen’s Running With The Devil, Charlie Daniels Band The Devil Went Down To Georgia and You’re The Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley.INXS74Lifted from the mega-hit Kick album the song was propelled by a typically glossy, over-the-top Joel Schumacher promo shot in Balboa, an upmarket area of Newport Beach, California, which featured dazzling colored lighting effects, action shots of the boys astride motorcycles, lots of male nipples and the cool, macho, presence of front man Hutchence, who turns around as the video closes to reveal his true satanic persona in a Janus-faced “gotcha” at the end, it was the MTV Video of the Year, “It’s hard to believe we need a place like Hell…”.

The song charted #2 US, #6 Aust, #20 France and #47 UK where the critics had panned the band, the New Musical Express magazine having described their records as “depressingly definitive examples of excruciating, boring, incredibly unimaginative MTV rock,” but by the time the Kick album had hit #9 in the UK in 1987, the self-appointed British arbiters of rock credibility were eating their words.INXS60The fourth single lifted from Kick was the dramatic Never Tear Us Apart, a bluesy Hutchence /Farriss song from a team that was at the peak of its powers; this was a song that had started life as a piano ballad with an early 60’s Rolling Stones blues ambience, producer Thomas substituted strings for the piano and the whole persona of the song was changed. It became a sensuous, pensive ballad with arresting strings and orchestration not heard so prominently on an INXS single before, and it unfolded in a waltz-like tempo, layered with synthesizers, and punctuated by dramatic breaks, and a brilliant sax solo by Kirk Pengilly, standing in Prague’s old Jewish cemetery. Musically Never Tear Us Apart was inspired by and owes a debt to the Loved Ones 1966 debut hit single The Loved One which was also included on the Kick album and was a live performance favorite at INXS concerts.

The song is essentially about faith and belief and has become the battle cry of the Port Adelaide AFL Football Club. Chart-wise the song hit #11 locally, #7 in USA; it was one of 6 top 10 hits for INXS in the USA and one of nine top 10 hits here in Australia in the decade to 1990. The promo video was shot in a wintery Prague, with a string trio assembled on the banks of the Vltava River, it was atmospheric and very sophisticated, and the song has been covered by many artists including Tom Jones, Natalie Imbruglia, Joe Cocker, Ben Harper, and Tina Arena. The song would be re-birthed in 2013 when the INXS mini-series Never Tear Us Apart was screened to great acclaim.

INXS75The Kick album had been recorded in Sydney and Paris with producer Chris Thomas, but on hearing the final cut Atlantic Records, in a monumental lapse of taste and judgement, rejected it, claiming it was not radio-friendly, would not resonate with the black market in the US, and reputedly offered the band $1million to go back to Australia and record another album. Thomas and the band refused, the album was released in October 1987 with little promotion by a recalcitrant Atlantic, it immediately won international acclaim, spawned five bona fide hit singles, was #2 in Aust, #3 in the US, #9 in the UK and Germany, sold 10 million copies two years after being released and by 2012 had clocked up a staggering 20 million sales worldwide.

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