Shabooh Shoobah

INXS

Shabooh Shoobah

Everything began to click for INXS with 1982’s Shabooh Shoobah. Following two albums that did well in Australia but didn’t distinguish themselves as international calling cards, the Sydney ensemble found a firm pivot point in “The One Thing,” a track that saw Michael Hutchence’s darkly dramatic vocals ushering funky guitars and frisky synths directly to the dance floor. INXS tapped rising Aussie producer Mark Opitz (Cold Chisel, Divinyls) for the song, which became Shabooh Shoobah’s opening salvo and lead single. Initially uncertain about whether Opitz’s pub-forged local track record could translate to that coveted American audience, the band wound up working with him on the whole record—and, subsequently, on both 1992’s Welcome to Wherever You Are and 1994’s Full Moon, Dirty Hearts. Opitz brought a newfound heft and scope to INXS, who were beginning to shake off the more insular post-punk and ska touchstones of their early material for a sharper, grander sound that drew equally from rock and dance. While “The One Thing” became a Top 40 hit in the US, it’s actually the album’s bookend—and second single—that has since become its defining track. An enduring anthem of acceptance, “Don’t Change” is an arena-scale closer that became the band’s live finale for years to come, as well as being covered with hard-rocking reverence by Bruce Springsteen, Limp Bizkit, Goo Goo Dolls, and many others. Beyond that eventual classic, Shabooh Shoobah showcases the intricate rhythm section of bassist Garry Gary Beers and drummer Jon Farriss, flanked by increasingly dynamic guitarists Tim Farriss and Kirk Pengilly and playful synth flourishes from keyboardist Andrew Farriss. Named after the sound of certain rhythmic pulses in “Spy of Love,” the album offers a thrilling vision of modern, danceable pop while letting Hutchence add more moody details to his singing. Some of the band’s ska influence lingers on “Black and White,” and “Golden Playpen” feels especially New Wave with its extended sax solo and rototoms, but the bluesy guitar opening of “Soul Mistake” plays more like evergreen pub rock. More notably, the nimble groove and chant-along chorus of “Old World New World” set the table for the following year’s “Original Sin,” a commercial breakthrough with producer Nile Rodgers. Stretches of Shabooh Shoobah are still subtler than INXS’s era-defining albums to come, but the natural finesse of the many rhythmic layers and other moving parts marks a clear leveling-up. Armed with Hutchence’s growing confidence and slow-burn emotional intensity, INXS stakes a claim here for the vivid global presence that they would soon become.

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