Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Early: The One Thing

INXS: The One Thing


It was 1982. It would be another year before MTV went on the air, another year and a half before we had it on our local cable system. I found new music in those days in a few ways. I listened to our local college radio station. I saw a band I had never heard of on Saturday Night Live. I read about them in Musician magazine, and bought an album on spec. Normally, I did not find new music by channel surfing.

But one night, I was up entirely too late. It must have been at least one in the morning. And channel surfing is just what I was doing. I kept coming across this concert by this band, and they looked different. And I kept passing it by, knowing that the show was Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, and the music must therefore be crap. But finally, the look drew me in, and I stopped and put the sound on.

The background was entirely black, and the band was entirely in white, and their instruments were white. There was the usual drums, bass, and guitar, and there was one band member seated at a bank of keyboards. The sound of the band was echoey in the manner of a pipe organ in a huge cathedral. Indeed, the overall effect of the guitars, bass, and keyboard was not unlike the awe inspired by a pipe organ, and the baritone vocals only enhanced the effect. The drums pushed the whole thing along beautifully.

The band, of course, was INXS, and the first song I heard was The One Thing. As I recall, there was one more song, Don’t Change, and they were done. Remember, I came in late. After the commercials, another band came on, and they were as lame as I had expected. But the sound of INXS stayed with me, and I made sure I got the album. It was just as good as the two songs I knew.

Of course, INXS went on to be one of the biggest hit makers of the 80s, and I enjoyed their later work. But, after there first album, they never sounded like this again. Did I still like the band? Well, Rock Star: INXS is the only reality show I have ever watched. But the wrong person won, and the band and I parted ways at that point. Their work with original singer Michael Hutchence is still great though.

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