Listen Like Thieves

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Listen Like Thieves
Studio album by
Released14 October 1985 (1985-10-14)
RecordedAugust 1985
StudioRhinoceros Studios (Sydney, Australia)
AIR Studios (London, UK)
LabelWEA, Mercury, Atlantic
ProducerChris Thomas
INXS chronology
The Swing
Listen Like Thieves
Singles from Listen Like Thieves
  1. "What You Need"
    Released: August 1985
  2. "This Time"
    Released: November 1985
  3. "Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)"
    Released: March 1986
  4. "Listen Like Thieves"
    Released: June 1986

Listen Like Thieves is the fifth studio album by Australian rock band INXS. It was released on 14 October 1985. It spent two weeks at number one on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart. Considered an international breakthrough album for the band, it peaked at No. 11 on the United States Billboard 200, No. 24 on the Canadian RPM 100 Albums and in the top 50 in the United Kingdom.

The album features the band's first top 5 single in the U.S., "What You Need", and it also won the group the Countdown Music and Video Award for 'Best Video'. Listen Like Thieves also marks the beginning of the group's off-and-on alliance with producer Chris Thomas.


Listen Like Thieves is the fifth studio album by INXS. The Sydney-based group had formed in 1977 by the three Fariss brothers: Andrew on guitar and keyboards, Jon on percussion and drums, and Tim on guitar, along with Garry Gary Beers on bass guitar, Michael Hutchence as lead vocalist, and Kirk Pengilly on guitar, saxophone, and vocals.[2][3][4] Their previous album, The Swing (April 1984), had local chart success peaking at number one on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart and No. 6 in New Zealand.[5][6] Although appearing on international charts – No. 52 on United States Billboard 200,[7] and No. 27 on the Canadian RPM 100 Albums[8] – INXS wanted to improve their worldwide impact.[9]

After recording their last album in New York and Oxfordshire, they returned to Sydney where they worked with Chris Thomas (Sex Pistols, Pretenders, Roxy Music, Elton John) producing at Rhinoceros Studios.[2][3][4]

Recording and production[edit]

Listen Like Thieves was recorded over a three-month period at the Rhinoceros studio in Sydney, NSW, Australia.[10] Many of the album's songs were written by the song writing duo of Hutchence and Andrew Farriss.[11][12]

As production came close to completion, Thomas told the band that the album was lacking a crucial hit single, so the band members left the studio having just a few days to come up with one last song.[12] "Chris Thomas told us there was still no 'hit'", Farriss later recalled. "We left the studio that night knowing we had one day left and we had to deliver a 'hit'. Talk about pressure."[12] Both Hutchence and Farriss searched through the demos that Farriss had composed throughout the album's production.[12] Out of the remaining demos, Thomas persuaded the duo to focus on one particular demo titled "Funk Song no 13".[12] "It was great. I thought, 'I could listen to that groove for 10 minutes!' I said, 'Let's work with that groove'", said Thomas.[12] INXS spent the next two days working on the demo track, which would eventually turn out to be the hit single "What You Need", giving the band their first top 5 hit in the U.S.[12][13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
(The New) Rolling Stone Album Guide[16]

AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted that with Listen Like Thieves the band "completes its transition into an excellent rock & roll singles band". However "the new configuration only works for three songs", which were its first three singles, "What You Need", "Listen Like Thieves" and "Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)". Despite this commentary, the music critic stated as well that "the album cannot be dismissed" and gave it four out of five stars in his ranking.[14] Australian musicologist Ian McFarlane opined that Listen Like Thieves had "a much harder sound than heard on previous INXS records, but somehow it lacked the pop smarts that had made The Swing so appealing".[2]

Rolling Stone's Parke Puterbaugh felt the group were "going for the jugular – or is that the groin?" and with Thomas they "forge an unlikely union between the sonic extremism of Led Zeppelin-style crunch rock and the step-lively beat of disco" such that the album "rocks with passion and seals the deal with a backbeat that'll blackmail your feet".[17]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence,[18] unless otherwise indicated

Listen Like Thieves track listing
1."What You Need" 3:35
2."Listen Like Thieves"Garry Gary Beers, Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly, Tim Farriss, A. Farriss, Jon Farriss[a]3:46
3."Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)" 3:56
4."Shine Like It Does" 3:05
5."Good + Bad Times"Pengilly, Hutchence2:46
6."Biting Bullets"Pengilly, Hutchence2:49
7."This Time"A. Farriss3:11
8."Three Sisters" (instrumental)T. Farriss[b]2:27
9."Same Direction" 4:58
10."One x One" 3:05
11."Red Red Sun"J. Farriss, A. Farriss3:32
Total length:37:16


Personnel as listed in the album's liner notes are:[11]


Additional personnel

  • Ray Cooper – percussion on "Same Direction"
  • Ann Odell – string arrangements


  • Chris Thomas – producer
  • Steve Churchyard – engineer
  • INXS – art direction
  • Philip Mortlock – design, art, photography
  • Andy Rosen – inner spread photography
  • Stuart Spence – back cover group photography

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ Songwriting credited simply to "INXS" on most releases.
  2. ^ Songwriting also credited to "INXS" on some releases and to "A. Farriss" on some others.


  1. ^ Breihan, Tom (12 April 2021). "The Number Ones: INXS' "Need You Tonight". Stereogum. Retrieved 9 November 2023. Listen Like Thieves was a hard, brittle plastic-soul album, and it sounded something like Duran Duran playing Young Americans.
  2. ^ a b c McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'INXS'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-768-2. Archived from the original on 30 September 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Nimmervoll, Ed. "INXS". Howlspace – The Living History of Our Music. White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd (Ed Nimmervoll). Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Holmgren, Magnus; Shaw, Julian; Meyer, Peer. "INXS". Australian Rock Database. Passagen (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 12 December 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  6. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Discography INXS". New Zealand Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  7. ^ "INXS | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Item Display – Top Albums/CDs". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. 15 July 1984. Archived from the original on 8 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  9. ^ O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.
  10. ^ "IN THE STUDIO WITH INXS (recording of Listen Like Thieves) by Neill McCutcheon". OoCities (Dolly Magazine Australia 1985). Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  11. ^ a b Listen Like Thieves liner notes. Retrieved 16 March 2017
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "The Day INXS Broke Through With 'Listen Like Thieves'". Ultimate Classic Rock. 17 September 1990. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Listen Like Thieves (1985)". INXS: Online. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  14. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Listen Like Thieves – INXS". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  15. ^ Kandell, Steve (18 October 2020). "INXS: Listen Like Thieves". Pitchfork. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  16. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). (The New) Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 406. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  17. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (5 December 1985). "INXS: Listen Like Thieves: Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  18. ^ "'What You Need' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 9 March 2014. Note: User may have to click 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:' What You Need; or at 'Performer:' INXS
  19. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 149. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  20. ^ "Item Display – Top Albums/CDs". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. 3 May 1986. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  21. ^ " – INXS – Listen Like Thieves". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  22. ^ " – INXS – Listen Like Thieves". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  23. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2023.
  24. ^ "INXS Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  25. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 437. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  26. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1985 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  27. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 438. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  28. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1986 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  29. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1996 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  30. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – INXS – Listen Like Thieves". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  31. ^ "American album certifications – INXS – Listen Like Thieves". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  32. ^ Glenn A. Baker (28 January 1989). "Australia '89" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 101, no. 4. p. A-2. Retrieved 22 June 2021 – via World Radio History.