Wednesday, October 14, 2015

INXS - Listen Like Thieves

Today (October 14th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Listen Like Thieves, the fifth studio album from INXS. The multi-Platinum seller hit number 46 in the UK, number 30 in Switzerland, number 24 in Canada, number 11 on the US Billboard Album chart (it spent fifty-five weeks total on that chart), number 4 in New Zealand, and number 1 (holding that spot for two weeks) in Australia.

Side one opens with “What You Need”, the second single. It got all the way to number 51 in the UK, number 14 in New Zealand, number 21 in Canada, number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 3 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, and number 2 in Australia. With pounding percussion and a funky guitar riff, this song was hugely popular on the radio and MTV as well as at parties and dance clubs. It was a part of a number of nights out during my junior year of college. I can’t help but get into a great mood whenever I hear it; it is so full of energy.

The title track is up next. “Listen Like Thieves”, the third single, reached number 54 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 46 in the UK, number 28 in Australia, and number 12 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. After such a bombastic side opener, this one is a step back. Still, it delivers a strong rhythm with an intriguing lyrical plot line.

The fourth single “Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)” rose to number 54 in the UK, number 24 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, number 42 in New Zealand, and number 15 in Australia. This one is a bit more stripped down from the first two tracks, but for me it works really well. It made for a solid closer for this initial “rock block” trio of tunes.

“Shine Like It Does” is a much more intimate tune. The lyrics focus on a very personal level, and again here the music is a bit more retrained yet at the same time very warm.

The band brings back the party with the danceable “Good + Bad Times” to close out the first half. It encourages the listener to take into account both the good times and the bad times when looking at one’s life. It all makes up the landscape of who we are.

Side two begins with the bouncing beats of “Biting Bullets”.

“This Time”, the lead single, went to number 81 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 79 in the UK, number 40 in New Zealand, number 19 in Australia, and number 11 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. I like how this one opens and builds to the chorus. The lyrics make a promise of more peaceful relationship, making it a perfect candidate for those make-up mixes.

The instrumental track “Three Sisters” is next, written by Tim Farriss. It has a very exotic and primitive vibe.

“Same Direction”, with an almost minute long instrumental intro, comes across a bit tamer when compared to much of what comes before it. It is one of those songs that I think requires additional spins for it to sink in.

“One x One” redeems things a bit for me. I like the big brassy swing to its rhythm. It almost has a throwback quality to it, like something out of the 70’s, that really appeals to me.

The album closes with the full-throttle scorcher “Red Red Sun”. For me, I would have kept it more steady rather than the jarring shifts in tempo that the guys went chose.

I never owned the album or actually listened to it all the way through until this review, but I do have the singles from Listen Like Thieves in my digital music library. Again, this is another record that has quite a few deep-cuts that are worth having in your library as well.

For still more INXS, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Love this album!

While outstanding in its own right, it also turned out to be a wonderful intro to their next album - KICK - which I love only slightly more.

Side One of this album ranks up there with best Side Ones ever. If last song on Side One was "This Time" instead of "Good + Bad Times" it would be in Top Ten Best Side Ones Ever!

(Pssst! That's how I listen to it.)

Would have loved more extended versions or remixes off of this album other than just the "What You Need" and "Listen Like Thieves" singles, though they are both incredible.

Thirty years since I was bombing around in the Bug treating unsuspecting passers by and my neighborhood to the infectious sounds of INXS and their Listen Like Thieves album. I'm back full circle to driving a VW Passat (non-diesel, thank you very much) with a much better sound system than I had then - might have to ingratiate myself to a whole new generation of strangers and neighbors in the Blueberry.