Remembering Michael Hutchence
19 years ago today, the world lost Michael Hutchence, best known as the lead singer of INXS, but those who followed Hutchence’s career more closely over the decades are aware that he worked outside the band on occasion as well. To celebrate his life, we’ve got THE INXS COLLECTION: 1980-1993 set up for your streaming enjoyment, but we’ve also pulled together a six-pack of tracks featuring Hutchence from outside of the band that brought him his greatest fame.
1. Don Walker, “Forest Theme” (1981) – You may know Walker from his work as a member of and songwriting for the band Cold Chisel, but he also did the soundtrack for Freedom, a film about the love between a man and his Porsche. Hutchence, still barely above the status of unknown at this point in his career, contributed vocals to this track.
2. Max Q, “Way of the World” (1989) – Although it was Hutchence who earned virtually all of the publicity for his side project, it was a collaboration between him and Ollie Olsen, who’d previously met and worked together on the film Dogs in Space. This track and one other, “Sometimes,” earned college radio airplay at the time of the album’s release, which is a testimony to how popular INXS had gotten as a result of their KICK album, but it wasn’t enough to turn Max Q into anything other than a one-off collaboration.
3. Noiseworks, “Take You Higher” (1991) – One of many Australian bands to suddenly get a burst of popularity as a result of Men at Work, Midnight Oil, Crocodile Dundee, and – perhaps to a lesser extent – Yahoo Serious making it cool to love Aussies, probably the most surprising thing about this track, which featured Hutchence on guest vocals, is that it wasn’t the most successful single to be released from Noiseworks’ 1990 album Love Versus Money. Indeed, it stalled at #84 on the Australian charts. Still, Hutchence’s presence makes it one that INXS fans will want to check out nonetheless.
4. The London Symphony Orchestra, “Under My Thumb” (1994) – When the London Symphony Orchestra decided to release a collection of symphonic performances of Rolling Stones songs, they naturally reached out to the actual Stones – Mick Jagger croons “Angie,” for the record – but they also secured a variety of other vocalists, including Maire Brennan (“As Tears Go By”), Marianne Faithfull (“Ruby Tuesday”), and Hutchence.
5. Black Grape, “Reverend Black Grape” (1996) – Hutchence was a diehard fan of Black Grape, the new band from former Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder, from the get-go, to the point where, when Hutchence finally got around to recording a solo album, he hired Black Grape producer Danny Saber to helm it. As it turned out, Black Grape quite like Hutchence as well, which is how Hutchence came to sing on the song at one of the band’s gigs.
6. The Heads, “The King is Gone” (1996) – A sadly ironic song title to wrap up the six-pack, but Hutchence contributed vocals to this track on the lone album by The Heads, a.k.a. the members of the Talking Heads sans David Byrne.