Inxs' third album, 1982's "Shabooh Shoobah" would put them on the map in Australia. Their follow-up album, 1984's "The Swing" would continue the upward momentum that this band was making. In a lot of ways, "Shabooh Shoobah" would demonstrate the outstanding vocal talents of Michael Hutchence. Hutchence showed some incredible vocals on songs such as "Don't Change", "Here Comes", and "The One Thing". While Hutchence's vocals don't lose a beat on "The Swing", what we do see is the emergence of Inxs as a complete band with all of the members stepping up.
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 plays a key role in the songwriting. While in the later years with Hutchence, the songwriting duties would focus around Andrew Farriss and Hutchence - this album shows many of the members of Inxs making songwriting contributions.
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. "The Swing" goes up a level more by showcasing some of the best work by bassist Garry Gary Beers, guitarist Tim Farriss, and drummer Jon Farriss - thus helping elevate this album to more of a complete effort by Inxs. At the same time, these contributions help deliver what might be a "raw" sound - but in a way, this "raw" sound captures the essence of Inxs. Inxs also adds a layer of experimentation (such as Funk) to this album making this one of their strongest collections. It is worth mentioning Beers' contributions - this is probably his strongest bass work he has delivered in his career.
Here is a song by song breakdown of the tracks:
"Original Sin": While not a household name in the U.S. yet, Inxs managed to recruit Nile Rodgers to produce and Daryl Hall to provide background vocals. Rodgers influence gives this a Funk sound. While this album has strengths on bass, guitars, and drums; one shouldn't forget Andrew Farriss is one great keyboard player as well as songwriter - and this track reflects it. I like how Hall's background vocals gel with Hutchence. Of course, Pengilly has a trademark sax solo at the end.
"Melting in the Sun": This song is all about Beers on the bass. He delivers a terrific bass track from start to finish - and works in perfect sync with Jon Farriss on drums. Very catchy hooks on this song.
"I Send a Message": Again we hear Beers' bass as the key to the track - working in conjunction with Jon's drumming. Beers and Tim Farriss deliver a great bridge mid-way through the song. This song demonstrates the "raw" sound.
"Dancing on the Jetty": As complete an Inxs song as I ever heard. The song sounds out with an orchestral-like beginning, then progresses into a Funk Rock (again showing experimentation) sound. Once again, the key is Beers bass working with Jon's drumming. However every member contributes - Tim's guitar, Andrew's guitar, Hutchence's vocals - and even Pengilly's saxophone (listen how he gels with Tim's guitar). This song is really what Inxs is all about. Great lyrics too as Inxs sings about world relations - (i.e. "watch the world argue; argue with itself").
"The Swing": Jon Farriss' drums open up this track - along with some mean guitar work. Not the strongest track on the album, but still pretty good.
"Johnson's Aeroplane": Beers' bass hits the money again. Hutchence works terrifically with the background vocalists. The keyboards and guitars almost bring a psychedelic quality to things. Pengilly has a terrific saxophone solo midway through the track.
"Love Is (What I Say)": Same comments as "Dancing on the Jetty". This song blew me away thanks to a complete team effort (minus the sax) - and once again is what Inxs is all about. Hutchence really shines on this track, but once again Beers' bass is on the money. Listen to how the guitar work jams just after the chorus.
"Face the Change": Terrific Funk-like track. Pengilly has his strongest sax solo on this track - delivered in a haunting manner.
"Burn for You": "Face the Change" has a nice segue into this track. This is more of pop-styled track. Andrew's keyboard work shines here, but perhaps the song's strongest point is the integration of a chorus for background vocals.
"All the Voices": Beers' bass gets one last chance to shine on another Funk-infused track. Definitely an experimental track. The percussion has almost an African sound toward the end. A very good song and a nice wrap up to a great album.
The one drawback of this collection is that there were not lyrics provided with the liner notes. Inxs has had a terrific career and certainly should be "Hall of Fame" material. If you have heard Inxs and have liked them, "The Swing" is the one album I would highly recommend you get for your collection.