INXS – Greatest Hits

INXS - Greatest HitsIn hindsight, it’s eerie listening to this collection of INXS’s more radio-ready tunes, and it’s hard not to reflect – at least a little bit – upon the doomed falling star that was Michael Hutchence, the group’s lead singer. I’m not going to say that this guy is a fallen genius, but the world most assuredly lost an incredibly dynamic and charismatic performer when Hutchence’s personal demons overtook him.

But that’s all in retrospect, and this compilation predates those tragic events at any rate. If it’s an INXS song, and you’ve ever heard it on the radio, chances are it’s on this collection. The INXS Greatest Hits disc leans heavily in the direction of the group’s 1986 mega-hit Kick, from which damn near every song seemed to be a single at some point. The later X and earlier Listen Like Thieves, both worth listening to in and of themselves, aren’t represented quite as much. Basically, the Greatest Hits consist of roughly half of Kick with bonus tracks from other 3 out of 4albums.

Personal favorites here include “Never Tear Us Apart”, “Suicide Blonde” (a song which seemed to roll off the assembly line bearing every sonic trademark of the band packed into four minutes), and, yes, “Need You Tonight”.

Order this CD

  1. The One Thing (3:24)
  2. Original Sin (3:46)
  3. What You Need (3:36)
  4. Listen Like Thieves (3:47)
  5. Shine Like It Does (3:06)
  6. Need You Tonight (3:01)
  7. Devil Inside (5:11)
  8. New Sensation (3:42)
  9. Never Tear Us Apart (3:02)
  10. Suicide Blonde (3:51)
  11. Disappear (4:08)
  12. The Stairs (4:55)
  13. Heaven Sent (3:21)
  14. Beautiful Girl (3:29)
  15. The Strangest Party (These Are The Times) (3:55)
  16. Deliver Me (3:50)

Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 60:06

Sunglass

SunglassA very strange album, this, but it has a kind of hypnotic appeal to me. Most of the numbers are very slow, acoustic, and at best are mesmerising. The “group” consists of Simon Honisett and Penny Hewson, with occasional guest players, and the production values are low-tech, maybe barely a step above the Finn Brothers’ debut album (you can’t hear most of the tape hiss), but the sameness of most of the songs may lose Sunglass some points with some listeners. On the good side, the lyrics are often interesting, and there are 3 out of 4some interesting vocals – Penny Hewson sometimes comes across sounding a little like Julee Cruise.

  1. Most Days (4:18)
  2. The Saddest Girl in the World (2:47)
  3. The Biggest Mess (4:19)
  4. Dust (2:15)
  5. Before The Light (4:37)
  6. Hollowhead (2:37)
  7. Here We Go Again (2:56)
  8. When Stars Collide (2:17)
  9. You and Me (2:05)
  10. For Real (4:33)
  11. Sugar Sweet Goodbye (2:48)
  12. I Want To Be There (7:10)
  13. Bringing Someone Back (5:48)
  14. Remember These (4:41)

Released by: Choc Chip Records
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 48:37

The Grays – Ro Sham Bo

The Grays - Ro-ShamboFronted by former Jellyfish guitarist Jason Falkner, The Grays were, not unlike Jellyfish, a short-lived experiment in excellent power-pop in the tradition of Rod Argent. The extremely melodic rock numbers on this album are all listenable, and the Falkner-penned “Very Best Years” leads off the album, a song that wouldn’t have been out of place on Falkner’s outstanding 1996 solo album. However, I find that my favorite songs on Ro Shambo were written by Jon Brion, another member of the group. I have no idea where this one went after the Grays, but his songwriting skills shine on “Nothing Between Us” and “Same 4 out of 4Thing”, a fantastically harmonized tune both instrumentally and vocally. It’s really a shame that the Grays seem to have vanished even more quickly than Jellyfish did, because they truly had the spark of some prodigious talents, and this album remains unjustly in obscurity. Hard to find these days, but worth the search!

Order this CD

  1. Very Best Years
  2. Everybody’s World
  3. Same Thing
  4. Friend Of Mine
  5. Is It Now Yet
  6. Oh Well Maybe
  7. Nothing Between Us
  8. Both Belong
  9. Nothing
  10. Not Long For This World
  11. Spooky
  12. All You Wanted
  13. No One Can Hurt Me

Released by: Elektra
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 59:06

The Move – Great Move!: The Best of the Move

The Move - Great Move!: The Best of the MoveThough released nearly 25 years after the fact, this CD compilation contains the entirety of the Move’s final LP, Message From The Country, along with some B-sides and singles from the same era. Even before ELO was formed and subsequently split up, one can hear that Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood were moving in different musical directions on this album. Lynne’s dreamy “No Time” foreshadows some of the style he would bring to ELO after Wood’s departure, and Wood’s “It Wasn’t My Idea To Dance” focuses again on Wood’s obsession with 50’s rock ‘n’ roll which would become a trademark of his future solo and post-ELO output. This disc also has the Move version of “Do Ya”, which ELO later covered in 1976. There is one song I have to single out for special praise, in a strange way. There’s a reason why 3 out of 4Move/ELO drummer Bev Bevan doesn’t sing a whole lot – though if ever there was a call for a deep basso voice in an ELO tune, I’m sure he made his contribution there. But on this album, Bev sang “Ben Crawley Steel Company”, a hysterically funny and decidedly non-politically- correct lament of a hard-up workman who’s losing it all. Take my work for it, it’s terribly amusing, if only for his singing!

Order this CD

  1. Message from the Country (4:46)
  2. Ella James (3:12)
  3. No Time (3:39)
  4. Don’t Mess Me Up (3:11)
  5. Until Your Moma’s Gone (5:03)
  6. It Wasn’t My Idea To Dance (5:28)
  7. The Minister (4:27)
  8. Ben Crawley Steel Company (3:02)
  9. The Words of Aaron (5:25)
  10. My Marge (1:59)
  11. Tonight (3:17)
  12. Chinatown (3:06)
  13. Down On The Bay (4:13)
  14. California Man (3:35)
  15. Do Ya (4:02)

Released by: EMI
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 61:44

Jewel – Pieces Of You

Jewel - Pieces Of YouThis girl’s just now hitting it big, and this album has been out for two years!? Amazing. Her presence on Atlantic seems to make it likely that the label sought her out as a kind of folksy Tori Amos clone, but Jewel is much more than that. I will admit that the single “Who Will Save Your Soul” mesmerized me into buying this album, and I’m glad it did. There are several live tracks that really come across as average, but the last song, “Amen”, is really where Jewel comes into her own and proves that she could indeed be the next Tori Amos without being a Tori clone. She abandons the folky style that has come to be her trademark and does 3 out of 4some truly beautiful singing, particularly as the tune draws to a close. Even if you don’t particularly care for her singles or her album so far, I think this is one to watch in the future. Highly recommended, even if only for the last track on the album!

Order this CD

  1. Who Will Save Your Soul (4:00)
  2. Pieces of You (4:15)
  3. Little Sister (2:29)
  4. Foolish Games (5:39)
  5. Near You Always (3:08)
  6. Painters (6:43)
  7. Morning Song (3:35)
  8. Adrian (7:02)
  9. I’m Sensitive (2:54)
  10. You Were Meant For Me (4:13)
  11. Don’t (3:34)
  12. Daddy (3:49)
  13. Angel Standing By (2:38)
  14. Amen (4:32)

Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 58:56

Umajets – Demolotion

Umajets - DemolotionAnother project by Jellyfish alumni Roger Manning and Tim Smith, this album sounds more like the first Jellyfish album than 1992’s Spilt Milk did, opting for Bellybutton’s slightly trippy sound rather than the Queen-like melodic hard rock of Spilt Milk. Things kick off with a wonderfully (and strangely) harmonized number, “Daphne’s Disease”. Other highlights include the somber ballad “Mother”, the 60’s-pop-inspired “Onion Umbrella” (well, the tray card says “union,” but the lyrics say “onion”), the excellent “Fly”, a commentary on a certain U.S. president who didn’t inhale titled “American 4 out of 4Pipe,” and quite a few others. Though I’m not sure that these former Jellyfish members share Jason Falkner’s ability to come up with a catchy song to go between all the catchy musical hooks, they do manage to sing out-of-this-world harmonies, making Demolotion quite a treat for those who thrive on vocal harmony.

Order this CD

  1. Daphne’s Disease
  2. Half Man, Half Wrecking Ball
  3. Fly
  4. The Wannabees
  5. American Pipe
  6. Mother
  7. No Mattress
  8. The Middle of Monday
  9. The Walls You Walk Through
  10. A Girl Named God
  11. La Dia De Muertos
  12. Bring Back Our Super Hero
  13. Matador
  14. Union Umbrella
  15. Skywriting
  16. My Weary Eyes

Released by: Intrigue
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 64:64

Man…Or Astroman? – Destroy All Astromen!

Man...Or Astroman? - Destroy All Astromen!A bizarre retro-explosion of surf rock stylings, I’ll cop to the fact that this CD’s presence in my collection is primarily due to the Love Theme From Mystery Science Theater 3000. Some of this album’s tunes are really, really strange, dovetailing with the 50s B-movie poster album cover by including some incredibly obscure B-movie soundbytes, some of which I suspect are the band’s own invention rather than actual movie clips. (In that context, the MST theme is utterly appropriate.)

3 out of 4

  1. Reverb 10,000 (2:09)
  2. Name of Numbers (1:32)
  3. Popcorn Crabula (1:57)
  4. A Mouthful of Exhaust (1:57)
  5. Of Sex and Demise (1:59)
  6. Joker’s Wild (2:17)
  7. Intoxica (1:38)
  8. Order this CD Mystery Meat (2:39)
  9. The Heavies (1:42)
  10. Madness in the Streets (1:40)
  11. Espanto del Future (1:57)
  12. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Love Theme (1:20)
  13. Landlocked (1:43)
  14. Bombora (2:04)
  15. Gargantua’s Last Stand (2:23)
  16. You Can’t Get Good Riblets In Space (0:47)
  17. Bermuda Triangle Shorts (2:14)
  18. Taco Wagon (2:03)
  19. The Vortex Beyond (2:18)
  20. Destination Venus (3:00)
  21. Time Bomb (6:10)

Released by: Estrus
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 45:31