INXS - Welcome to wherever you are (1992)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 7:12 AM

Often when a second follow-up is made to a hit album, that second follow-up will often fail from a commercial standpoint. While the first follow-up album to a hit album will usually do well commercially, if it disappoints the fans who liked the original, those fans won't buy the second follow-up. I think this is a fair assumption to apply to Inxs. Inxs' 1988 "Kick" album was a huge commercial (as well as critical) success. Their follow-up to Kick was 1990's "X". This was still a very good album, but probably wasn't as strong as "Kick". As a result, this might have affected the record sales of their second follow-up, 1992's "Welcome to Wherever You Are". However this might be a case where people should have given the second follow-up a chance. This is because "Welcome to Wherever You Are" is one very good album. Inxs explores some new avenues and the result is one heck of a good collection.

One fact that I find amazing about Inxs is that this six member band stuck together from their formation in the late 1970s through Michael Hutchence's untimely death in 1997. During this period, the band would release 10 studio albums, 1 Greatest Hits album, and 1 Live album. This has allowed the band to meld together and grow professionally. Much of this is due to the fact that three band members are brothers: Andrew Farriss (Keyboards), Jon Farriss (Drums), and Tim Farriss (Guitar). The other three members also stuck tightly with the band the whole way. These members include: Hutchence (Lead Vocals), Garry Gary Beers (Bass), and Kirk Pengilly (Guitar and Sax). Hutchence - known for his long hair and theatrical performances in concert often gets the most publicity. But the remaining five members all make major contributions from a musicianship standpoint. In addition, Hutchence is not just eye candy - he has also played a key role in the songwriting.

As Inxs moved toward superstardom, there were production and songwriting contributed to this rise. Producer Chris Thomas was brought in on the "Listen Like Thieves" album and this would continue through the "X" album. During this time, the songwriting duties would also primarily become a partnership between Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence. This duo would prove to be a dynamic songwriting combination as good as any combination in music history. "Welcome to Wherever You Are" changes things from both a production and songwriting standpoint. For producing duties, Inxs brings back Mark Opitz. Opitz had produced Inxs' big breakthrough album, "Shabooh Shoobah". From a songwriting standpoint, only 7 of the original 12 tracks are written by the Farriss/Hutchence combination. The remaining songs are either solo compositions by Andrew Farriss (3 tracks), Michael Hutchence (1 Track), as well as one combination by Hutchence and Jon Farriss. I found both of these changes to be positive. Opitz has proven to be a successful producer before and once again he proves he can do the job again. I also found the mixing up of the songwriting duties a great way to keep Inxs' music fresh and vibrant.

I think Inxs' musical style can be considered an offshoot of the Punk and New-Wave movements of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The two distinguishing factors that give Inxs a style of their own are : 1) The infusion of Kirk Pengilly's saxophone into this punk/new-wave influenced sound; and 2) Michael Hutchence's powerful vocals really elevate the sound of the band. "Welcome to Wherever You Are" adds some additional distinguishing factors. For starters, Inxs incorporates the use of an orchestra in two of the tracks ("Baby Don't Cry" and "Men and Women" - an interesting point "Baby Don't Cry" was a Farriss solo-written song while "Men and Women" was a Hutchence solo-written song). Inxs' sound fits very well into the orchestral-style of music and I would have really liked to have seen more songs done like this. Another distinguishing factor is that Inxs shows some innovations in their sound. The most compelling example is the opening track, "Questions". For this song (which was an Andrew Farriss solo composition), we are given a Middle-Eastern flavor to the music. Another example is on "Strange Desire", we hear a near Pet Shop Boys sound on the introduction (as well as some terrific bass by Garry Gary Beers). They also demonstrate a harder-rock edge at times in songs such as "Heaven Sent", "Communication", and "All Around". They also demonstrate an R&B sound in songs such as "Not Enough Time". "Beautiful Girl" continues to demonstrate that Michael Hutchence not only has a powerful voice, but one that is an emotional sounding one. Finally, "Men and Women" shows Inxs deliver a haunting ballad - something that hasn't been found in their music before.

Perhaps the most interesting concept is incorporated by Mark Opitz himself. Opitz assembles the 12 original tracks of "Welcome to Wherever You Are" in 45+ minutes of continuous music. For Inxs' sound, this seems to work perfect. Some of the segues from song to song aren't going to be as strong as others, but for the most part this concept works very well.
The liner notes include a write-up by Mark Opitz who reflects on this collection. The liner notes also includes all of the songwriting and musician credits. This is a shame that this particular album didn't get the attention it so richly deserves. This is one of Inxs' best collections. It is one that I'd recommend for both long-time and new Inxs fans. by L.A. Scene
Tracks
1. Questions
2. Heaven Sent
3. Communication
4. Taste It
5. Not Enough Time
6. All Around
7. Baby Don't Cry
8. Beautiful Girl
9. Wishing Well
10. Back on Love
11. Strange Desire
12. Men and Women
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