Switched Back to Ecstatic

It was the morning 23 November 1997 and I was lying in bed with my dog curled on my shoulder. I was sort of looking out at the fading leaves on the trees and lazily considering going back to sleep. The phone rang; it was my sister (no surprise; we talked three times a day). She told me Michael Hutchence had died. We had a brief conversation and I hung up. I stared at the ceiling, not exactly sad, but sort of feeling blank.

Anyone who knew me in high school knew I was a fan of INXS in the truest sense of the word. I listened to their music while I danced by myself in my basement, while I painted in my workshop, while I crooned along in bed in my room. I owned every album and made a "best of INXS" mix tape- two double-sided tapes full of their music. I have a painting of Michael Hutchence hanging in my house right now (though it looks little like him- I’m not that good at portraits). I didn’t cry or go crazy when I heard the news. I was really unhappy because I knew I’d never see INXS in concert again. Their last album had been disappointing and lacked their earlier creativity. Now, they were done for good.

Unless you’ve been living in an anti-reality TV household, you know that INXS held a 13-week audition for a new lead singer. They didn’t choose my first choice of singer (Mig), but hearing the band play during the last show made me extremely happy. They played "Don’t Change," and I was singing along like crazy. I didn’t rush to buy the album, though, afraid of what quality it could be. Plus, I’m trying to save money. Then Carlton and I saw the video for "Pretty Vegas" and it was a really good song. JD sounded really good.

Carlton surprised me tonight by giving me the CD Switch by INXS as a present. He downloaded it to the Sonos, and soon my Infinity speakers filled the living room with music. The album has everything: edgier new stuff like "Pretty Vegas" where JD’s fresh influence shines. Soulful songs like "Afterglow" and the haunting "God’s Top Ten" that are reminiscent of X (and Suzie sounds amazing). Like KICK the best? Listen to "Like it or Not." Listen Like Theives? "Hungry." Even sax/keyboard throwbacks from their first studio album, INXS, on the track "Never Let You Go." While I’m highlighting similarities to the old albums, this is not just a band making an album that sounds like everything they’ve ever done. The music is great and feels fresh.

The best part is that the members of INXS truly did choose the right singer. He wasn’t a Hutchence doppleganger, but his voice can handle the older music beautifully. Best of all, I will be able to see the band in concert next year. I have been missing this feeling for eight years.

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