Essential Atlantic: INXS, KICK

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Starting this week – and continuing for the next several weeks (or maybe just until we decide that we want to stop doing it, since normalcy seems likely to remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future) – will be spotlighting an album from the Atlantic Records discography that qualifies as “Essential.”

And what rigorous standards and/or mathematical algorithm did we use to come up with the criteria to define “Essential,” you ask? None at all. You’ll just have to trust our instincts. But they’re really good, we swear...

This week, we’re taking a look at the most successful album of INXS’s career, the one that built on the increased airplay, public profile, and sales figures that the band had achieved with its 1985 album LISTEN LIKE THIEVES and transformed the Australian band from cult faves into a significant mainstream success.

Probably the craziest thing about KICK is that it was originally rejected by Atlantic when the band played it for the label executives. No joke: they felt that the LP leaned too heavily into funk and dance for INXS to be able to keep the audience they’d captured with LISTEN LIKE THIEVES.

"They hated it, absolutely hated it,” said Chris Murphy, INXS’s manager, in an interview for the book 50 Years of Rock in Australia. “They said there was no way they could get this music on rock radio. They said it was suited for black radio, but they didn't want to promote it that way. The president of the label told me that he'd give us $1 million to go back to Australia and make another album.”

But they didn’t. Instead, Murphy went behind the label execs’ back and got Atlantic’s head of college radio promotion to play the song on campus radio.  The immediate success of “Need You Tonight” was notable enough, but when “Devil Inside” turned into a crossover hit on classic rock radio, Atlantic threw up their hands in defeat, and KICK was soon sitting on record store shelves...if the stores could keep it in stock, that is.

KICK peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200, but it stayed in the top 10 for 22 consecutive weeks, going double platinum in less than two months and spawning four top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Devil Inside,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” “New Sensation,” and “Need You Tonight,” which provided the band with a #1 hit.

We know we won’t be able to keep a straight face if we try to type the words “if you’ve never heard KICK” -  yep, there goes the grin! – but if it’s been awhile since you’ve given it a spin, break that streak and hit “play.” It still holds up.


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