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Switch

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Album Review

For all intents and purposes, the death of Australian rock band INXS' lead singer Michael Hutchence in 1997 ended the band's career. Despite being a phenomenal live band with influences that combined funk, new wave, and melodic rock, Hutchence was always the focal point of the band and without his rock star charisma and, more importantly, his warm, soulful vocals, there really wasn't much point for the band to continue. They did make attempts though, with both Terence Trent D'Arby and Jon Stephens fronting the band in the late '90s and early 2000s, respectively. But nothing worked until the band hooked up with reality TV impresario Mark Burnett for the extended audition show Rockstar:INXS, which found unknown vocalists from around the world competing to become the new lead singer of INXS — enter J.D. Fortune. A former Elvis impersonator from Canada, Fortune introduced himself to INXS by bellowing through "American Woman." INXS chalked the awkward performance up to opening night jitters and Fortune rallied on, ultimately even beating out the odds-on favorite Aussie Mig Ayesa. All of which brings us to Switch, INXS' first post-Hutchence album, and the first with Fortune. Truthfully, if you accept that Hutchence was the best thing about INXS than nothing the band does now could be better than even the worst album the band made with him. That said, for all of Rockstar:INXS's sickeningly glitzy cheesiness, it had both a sense of humor and fun about itself. Which seemed to indicate that INXS also had the same self-awareness that they were a great back catalog in need of live frontman. In that spirit, Switch finds the band working with such hit-making songwriters as the Matrix and Desmond Child in an attempt to reference sounds from every era of the band's career. Even Fortune, who impressed the band during the TV show with his lyrics for lead-off single "Pretty Vegas" gets some more writing credit with the album opener "Devil's Party," an obvious nod to "Devil Inside" one of the band's most recognizable hits from 1987's Kick. Similarly, the epic ballad "Afterglow" references U2's "With or Without You" while the driving "Hungry" could easily be a B-side from 1984's synth pop heavy The Swing. Vocally, Fortune does match some of Hutchence's deep soul leanings, and although he's more leaden and doesn't have any of the higher-end, blue-eyed soul that was Hutchence's trademark, he is clearly up for the sex-god-rock star pose. The album tends to "switch" back and forth from heartfelt love songs to songs about the decadent rock lifestyle, even making room for some ersatz reggae along the way. Fans of the Rockstar:INXS TV show will be pleasantly surprised to find female contestants Suzie McNeil and Deanna Johnston making appearances with McNeil, and even getting a duo lead with Fortune on "God's Top Ten." It's nice to see INXS acknowledge the show which ultimately redefined the band apart from Hutchence.

Customer Reviews

Brilliant

I've been a huge fan of theirs since their first album and even without MH's vocals, this is every bit a classic INXS album. I would go as far as to say it is their best.

Missed the switch

Love the album. Jd fortune did a great job, credit to the guys & him for turning this out. Not a bad track really & is what I would expect from inxs.
Hard not to compare so I won't try not to.
I would rate it 8/10, Michael would have turned the 8 into a 10.
I am happy with that & look forward to seeing what Ciaran Gribbin gets up to.

Its as Inxs as anything else

It shouldn't work but it does, JD fortune isn't Michael but he is INXS and Afterglow is as much an INXS classic as all the others that went before. Really listen to it, loud of course and you'll hear INXS

Biography

Formed: 1977 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australi

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

INXS hailed from the pubs of Australia, which is part of the reason the band never comfortably fit in with new wave. Even when they branched out into synth pop on their early recordings, they were underpinned by a hard, Stonesy beat and lead singer Michael Hutchence's Jagger-esque strut. Ultimately, these were the very things that made INXS into international superstars in the late '80s. By that time, the group had harnessed its hard rock, dance, and new wave influences into a sleek, stylish groove...
Full bio
Switch, INXS
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