X (INXS album)

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X
Inxs X.jpg
Studio album by INXS
Released 25 September 1990
Recorded 1989–1990 at Rhinoceros Studio 2, Sydney, Australia
Genre Alternative rock, pop rock
Length 41:42
Label Atlantic US
Mercury EU
WEA AU
Producer Chris Thomas
INXS chronology
Kick
(1987)
X
(1990)
Welcome to Wherever You Are
(1992)
Singles from X
  1. "Suicide Blonde"
    Released: September 1990
  2. "Disappear"
    Released: 8 December 1990
  3. "By My Side"
    Released: 30 March 1991
  4. "Bitter Tears"
    Released: 13 July 1991
  5. "The Stairs
    (The Netherlands only)"

    Released: November 1991

X is Australian rock band INXS's seventh studio album, released in 1990. The follow-up to the massive seller Kick, it peaked at No. 1 in Australia, No. 5 in the United States, No. 2 in the United Kingdom, No. 5 in Switzerland and No. 10 in Sweden. The album contains four hit singles, "Suicide Blonde", "Disappear", "By My Side" and "Bitter Tears". It was the third consecutive INXS album produced by Chris Thomas.

The title, the Roman numeral for "10", represents the band's tenth year since their debut album was released in 1980. X features a sample of blues-harp player Charlie Musselwhite on "Suicide Blonde", and Musselwhite himself playing on "Who Pays the Price" and "On My Way". In 2002, a remastered version of the album was released which included five previously unreleased tracks.

The singles "Suicide Blonde" and "Disappear" were used in the 1991 teen movie Mystery Date.

Background[edit]

In 1987 and 1988, INXS toured heavily in support of their sixth album, Kick.[1] During 1989, the band took a break to work on side projects. Hutchence collaborated with Ian 'Ollie' Olsen in the band Max Q,[2] the two having previously worked together on Richard Lowenstein's film Dogs in Space. INXS soon returned to the studio to record their follow-up album to Kick, which was X. Its title, the Roman numeral for "10", represents the band's tenth year since their debut album was released in 1980.

It followed in the same vein as Kick, and added harmonica to some songs, mostly through the contributions of Charlie Musselwhite. X scored hits with "Suicide Blonde" (written about Hutchence's then girlfriend Kylie Minogue) and "Disappear" (both Top 10 in the US),[3] "Suicide Blonde" peaked at No. 2 in Australia, No. 11 in the UK[4] and in Switzerland.[5] Two other singles from X were "Bitter Tears" and "By My Side" but they had less chart success.[2] A fifth single, "The Stairs" was only issued in the Netherlands to coincide with the release of the Live Baby Live album.

Recording and production[edit]

Upon entering the 1990s, INXS wanted to follow up on Kick, their multimillion-selling international success.[6] In a radio interview shortly after the release of X, Hutchence said, "We had to follow-up (on Kick) otherwise we'd disappear".[7] The band worked again with producer Chris Thomas at the Rhinoceros studio in Sydney, Australia with rehearsals beginning in November 1989. Sticking to the formula that was built on Kick, Thomas urged primary songwriters Andrew and Michael to advance their song writing strengths on X. A song titled "Disappear", which was previously written by both Hutchence and Jon Farriss whilst living together in Hong Kong during 1989 was composed and recorded during the recording sessions.[8] Hutchence and Jon also wrote the composition for "Faith in Each Other" and "Deepest Red" (a studio outtake) during the X sessions. Producer Chris Thomas assisted in writing the composition for the album's third single, "By My Side" along with Hutchence and Andrew.”[6] The original title of the song was "Dark of Night". Andrew wrote the song for his wife, Shelly.[6] An idea that Andrew pitched to Michael and the others was the sound of a blues harp, which he first played on keyboards. After discovering Blues musician Charlie Musselwhite had been playing shows in town, the band met with him and decided to use his harmonica playing talent on the album. Rather than playing a live recording on "Suicide Blonde", Musselwhite instead lay down harp samples. He did however play full harmonica on two songs, "Who Pays the Price" and "On My Way".

Production progressed into the new year. Demos that were composed early in production, including "Salvation Jane" and "Who Pays the Price" were later edited by adding new sounds and vocals. The demo of "Salvation Jane" was originally recorded with Andrew on vocals. The song was re-recorded with Hutchence on vocals but later cut from the album. Each track was done in two, sometimes three takes.[7] Once the recording sessions had finished, the album was taken to Air Studios in London where it was mixed and cut by Tim Young.[9] Like their previous two albums done with Thomas, X features a slickness and polish in its production. It would also be the groups last studio album with Thomas. Their next collaboration would take place four years later on the recording of both "The Strangest Party (These Are the Times)" and "Deliver Me", which were two new songs that appeared on the band's Greatest Hits compilation released in 1994. One month after the release of X, INXS started preparing for their world tour.[10]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[11]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[12]
Q 3/5 stars[13]

While reviews for X were generally favourable with some critics commenting that INXS had stepped up their game, others felt that the album followed too much in the same formula as Kick. Allmusic's Steven McDonald mentions this in the beginning of his review – "The seventh album from Australia's INXS basically sticks to the formula set up on Kick, mixing solid remixable dance floor beats with slightly quirky production tricks, Michael Hutchence's rough-edged, bluesy vocals, and some good solid song hooks."[11] In his 1990 review for Rolling Stone magazine Paul Evans rated the album four stars and felt that the band's seventh studio album helped define the band by stating "Cosmopolitan and canny – the group's professionalism still in service to soulfulness". He also added "X is big-audience rock & roll that feels right for our times".[12]

Commercial performance[edit]

Even though the album and its singles did not exceed the success of Kick, the album did perform well worldwide, particularly in Europe. In the United Kingdom the album reached number 2 and remained in the charts for an impressive 44 weeks.[14] The album was certified Platinum in January 1991 by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). X proved successful across Europe, reaching number 5 in Switzerland, number 10 in Sweden, number 13 in Norway, and number 9 in Germany.[15] In their native Australia the album entered at number 1 and stayed there for two weeks.[16] In the U.S. the album reached number 5 on the Billboard Top 200.[17] In December 1997 the album was certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[18]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Suicide Blonde"     3:53
2. "Disappear"   J. Farriss, M. Hutchence[9] 4:10
3. "The Stairs"     4:56
4. "Faith in Each Other"   J. Farriss, M. Hutchence[9] 4:09
5. "By My Side"   A. Farriss, M. Hutchence, C. Thomas[9] 3:06
6. "Lately"     3:37
7. "Who Pays the Price"     3:37
8. "Know the Difference"     3:18
9. "Bitter Tears"     3:49
10. "On My Way"     2:56
11. "Hear That Sound"     4:05

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel
  • Charlie Musselwhite – harmonica
  • David Nicholas – engineer
  • Chris Thomas – producer

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1990) Position Certification
Australian Albums Chart 1
US Billboard 200 5 2× Platinum[19]
Preceded by
Chain Reaction by John Farnham
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
15 August 1990 – 21 August 1990
Succeeded by
In Concert by The Three Tenors

Further reading[edit]

  • McDonald, Steven. "X > Review". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 19 May 2010. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ St John, Ed; INXS (1992). INXS: The Official Inside Story of a Band on the Road. Port Melbourne, Vic: Mandarin. p. 75. ISBN 1-86330-207-7. 
  2. ^ a b McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'INXS'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-768-2. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "INXS > Charts & Awards > Billboard singles". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "INXS Singles and Albums Charts". Chart Stats. Retrieved 18 May 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ "INXS Suicide Blonde". Australian Charts Portal. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c INXS: Story to Story (the official autobiography), page 179. Retrieved February 5th 2016
  7. ^ a b "Promotional interview for X". Retrieved February 5th 2016
  8. ^ "Disappear – INXS by the New Wave Journal"
  9. ^ a b c d Liner notes to the album "X"
  10. ^ "X Factor World Tour 1990 / 91"
  11. ^ a b "allmusic ((( Elegantly Wasted > Overview )))". www.allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  12. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 406. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  13. ^ "Q Magazine | Music news & reviews, music videos, band pictures & interviews". Q4music.com. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "The World's Music Charts - Chart runs of INXS". Retrieved February 5th 2016
  15. ^ "ultratop.be – INXS – X" Archived 31 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Australiancharts.com – INXS – X" Archived 7 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved February 5th 2016
  17. ^ "Billboard 200 INXS – Chart history". Retrieved February 9th 2016
  18. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA - INXS". Retrieved February 9th 2016
  19. ^ "RIAA Certifications". Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Retrieved 18 May 2010.