It turns out that INXS are on the hunt for a new lead vocalist. Again. You may recall that Jon Stevens (former front-man of Noiseworks), Terence Trent D’Arby and Jimmy Barnes have all had a go at being part of INXS.
Now INXS have decided to combine their inability to permanently replace the late Michael Hutchence with that vile contemporary television genre ‘reality TV’, in the BBC series Rock Star. Produced by the company responsible for (amongst other examples of televisual ‘crimes against humanity’, I’m sure) Survivor and The Apprentice , Rock Star will see the band auditioning hopefuls in five continents. The difference will be, unlike other reality TV shows, the viewing audience doesn’t get to pick the winner. That’s up to the band. Although, let’s face it, the audience will continue to pick the loser – in each instance, he’s the guy foolish enough to think it’s a worthwhile occupation, being a poor man’s poor man’s poor man’s Michael Hutchence.
Thus, this year’s Jon Stevens/Terence Trent D’Arby/Barnesy will get his proverbial fifteen minutes, recording an album (I bet you can’t wait to hear that one, either!) and touring with the band (I’m starting the queue outside the ticket office as soon as I hit the ‘send’ button!)
But what of the fourth- and fifth-rate Michael Hutchences, the ones who aren’t even good enough to front reality TV INXS? Surely they must receive some lurks and perks; even final round Big Brother evictees get to make shopping mall appearances, flounce around almost trendy nightclubs and do a spot of fundraising for Planet Ark and the like. Shouldn’t some of the better also-rans, the not-quite-as-crap contestants, have a moment in the sun? They could date Dannii Minogue for a couple of weeks (since only the winner could actually justify having a stab at Kylie), and maybe occasionally babysit Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom, Pixie and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily for Sir Bob Geldof.
However, if there’s any justice, many years from now that special someone who actually does win the competition and fronts INXS for a time, will wrangle the right to tour with a pick-up band of random musicians under the name ‘INXS’, much as the Beach Boys, the Byrds and the Little River Band have been able to soldier on with a distinct lack of founding members, much to those founding members’ collective chagrin. Then Gary Garry Garrry Garrrry Beers, the Farriss quintuplets and Kirk Pen-Gin-Gan-Goolie will have to tour with a stupid tie-in name, like ‘Modest Sufficiency’, or some such.
While surfing the net to find background information, I chanced upon the ‘news’ section of the band’s own homepage. Therein is listed a eulogy for Ray Charles, bearing the subheading
Famed INXS collaborator dies at 73
Now listen up, folks: Ray Charles is famed for many things, but collaborating with INXS ain’t one of them.
The article actually begins by claiming that Ray Charles “virtually invented the genre known as ‘soul’” – which is true enough – but then claims that Charles, who “rarely involved himself with rock ’n’ roll”, did the monumental thing of “making an exception” in order to work with INXS on the track ‘Please (You Got That…)’ from the 1993 Full Moon Dirty Hearts album.
What’s that you say? Can’t remember how that particular ditty goes? I only can just remember the album, but I certainly don’t remember that song screaming up the charts either. Yet, that’s by-the-by, because in the first place, the early recordings that Ray Charles made that led to what we now call ‘soul’ were steps in the direction to what we also call rock ’n’ roll. The twelve-bar blues of ‘What’d I Say’ was, for it’s time, virtually ‘none more rock’! So this glorifying of INXS with the still-warm corpse of Ray Charles is merely dodgy rhetoric, and were I to employ dodgy rhetoric of my own, I’d class it as a kind of necrophilia, metophoric though it is. However, given that it is still just rhetoric, a more accurate reading of the collaboration would be to describe it thus:
‘The Atlantic label in America (to whom the band was signed, State-side) tried to earn INXS some vintage rock cred and therefore a wider audience by teaming them up with another artist in the roster who could have probably done with a bigger market share at the time.’
I mean, really.
Of course, when you keep reading, you realise the true intent of the article: not to commemorate the passing of a great musician, or to commemorate a great moment in musical collaboration, if indeed the collaboration between INXS and Charles could be deemed ‘great’; what it is, ultimately, is an advertisement for a forthcoming DVD:
An alluring video was made for the song, directed by Matt Mahurin, and can be found on the eagerly awaited I'm Only Looking/ The Best Of INXS DVD coming in July.
And they have the audacity to give the advertorial the title Ray Charles R.I.P.