JIMMY BARNES 1984 – 2019

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Too Much Ain’t Enough Love – (J Barnes/J Cain/N Schon/ R Jackson/T Brock) and Good Times (H Vanda/G Young) – Jimmy Barnes and Jimmy Barnes with INXS. 1987

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In 1986 Barnes toured North America as support act for ZZ Top (above), and reluctantly allowed Gary Gersh (below) of Geffen Records to choose his backing band which excluded several musos that Barnes had become comfortable with – drummer Tony Brock and bassist Randy Jackson – and there were also concerns about the fact that Jimmy had brought his karate instructor Noel Watson, and his wife and children along with him from Australia.

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The tour was in the depths of a northern hemisphere winter, and gigs were often played on ice skating rinks with wooden stages erected over the surface, ZZ Top fans were impatient for the support act to get off stage and often loudly jeered Barnes who retaliated in like fashion. Hotel accommodation was virtually non-existent, so the band slept on the tour bus, Jimmy was drinking and snorting cocaine, and his management were complaining about having to hire a second bus to transport Jane, the three children, and their nanny, on the tour as well. Things ultimately came to a head over the presence of the Barnes retinue on tour and the cost of an additional tour bus to accommodate them, Barnes promptly sacked the tour management team, left the tour, and Geffen Records no longer supported future promotion of the For the Working Class Man album, which flopped stateside.

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Freight Train Heart would be Barnes third solo album, he was still with Geffen Records who wanted a hit album from him in the US, but Jimmy and the label would abruptly part ways before this third album was completed. Barnes was writing and demoing new songs with John Cain on keyboards, and a crack band of session musicians including Randy Jackson (bass), Tony Brock (drums), and Neal Schon (guitar), in Los Angeles.

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The creative process was proceeding well, Barnes also enjoyed collaborating with Desmond Childs (above), and he had already formed a solid relationship with Jon Cain, but it would be Cain’s insistence that Barnes use a vocoder to record Barnes vocals for Too Much Ain’t Enough Love, to which Barnes was vehemently opposed, that would lead him to abandon any further work with Geffen on the record. Vocoders had been used for some time to alter voice pitch and frequency to enhance record quality, Phil Collins, Queen, Styx and other bands had used the technology to have hits, and by 1998 Cher would release the first fully Auto-Tuned vocal Believe to create a monster global hit that sold over 11 million copies. But Jimmy felt that it made his voice sound inauthentic, he returned to Australia from NYC with the incomplete master tapes, and went into the Rhinoceros Studios (Syd) with a new local team including producer Mike Stone, Mark Lizotte aka Diesel (guitar), Angels Rick Brewster (guitar) and Jim Hilbun (bass), INXS Jon Farriss (drums), Peter Kekell (keyboards), and Huey Lewis guested on harmonica, to complete the album.

Jimmy Barnes with Wendy Matthews and Venetta Fields, providing backing vocals.

Too Much Ain’t Enough Love was the first single lifted off the album and it became the first #1 solo hit for Barnes in Australia and charted #4 in NZ and #91 in the US.

Since going solo Barnes had established close links with US songwriters who were linked with the bands Journey and the Babys, the writers of Too Much Ain’t Enough Love were John Cain a former member of both Journey and the Babys and composer of the song Working Class Man for Barnes; Randall Jackson was a former bassist for Journey and a producer of songs for Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and had played on the record I Touch Myself by the Divinyls. Neal Schon and Tony Brock were both former members of Journey and the Babys respectively, Schon had also played with Santana and Bad English. John Cain partly-produced this song at the Plant Studios, Sausalito (Calif.), Diesel played additional rhythm guitar, Venetta Fields and Wendy Matthews provided harmony vocals backing and the pooling of this talent and expertise paid off when the record hit the charts and stayed there for 20 weeks.

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Good Times was an under-rated Vanda /Young composition which had been released by the Easybeats in 1968 featuring guest vocalist Steve Marriott, lead singer with the Small Faces, charting #18 that year.

A great duet

Jimmy Barnes and INXS (Michael Hutchence) teamed up nineteen years later for a rousing version of the same song which still paid homage to three famous women from earlier rock songs – Boney Maronie, Long Tall Sally and Short Fat Fanny. Recorded in Sydney at the Rhinoceros Studios and produced by Mark Opitz with all the INXS band members involved (except Tim Fariss) plus Peter Kekel on piano, it hit #2 locally, #1 in NZ, #18 in the UK and #47 in the USA for Barnes highest US chart position.    

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The song became part of the soundtrack for the movie The Lost Boys and was also used to promote the Australian Made concert series in 1986/87 which featured INXS, Jimmy Barnes, The Divinyls, The Triffids, I’m Talking, The Models, Mental as Anything, and others. The concert tour was successful and all participants seemed to get on quite well until after the event when there were disagreements about revenue-sharing, and the Mentals subsequently refused to allow any of their footage to be included in Richard Lowenstein’s film of the tour, Australia Made: The Tour. Good Times has also been covered by such diverse acts as Shocking Blue, Jessica Mauboy, and Meatloaf who changed the lyrics and re-titled the song Runnin’ For the Red Light (I Got A Life).The stars of the Australian Made Concert series left to right front-Michael Hutchence, Sean Kelly, Chrissie Amphlett, Kate Ceberano and at rear- Jimmy Barnes, Chris Bailey, Greedy Smith, and Dave McComb.

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