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30th Anniversary Of 'Shabooh Shoobah'
By Matthew Marsland.
This month marks 30 years since INXS's third studio album 'Shabooh Shoobah' was first released in Australia by WEA. The album reached #5 on the Australian album chart and stayed in the charts for 94 weeks!
The One Thing
To Look At You
Spy Of Love
Black And White
Old World, New World
INXS presented with 'Gold' albums in Australia for 'Shabooh Shoobah'
Even though ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ wasn’t released until October 1982, it was back in January 1982 the band decided to record a new song ‘The One Thing’ with producer Mark Opitz at Paradise Studios. The band then road tested the song live playing it at the Double J Youth Refuge concert at Wanda Beach in January 1982. (You can hear this early live version on ‘Stay Young 1979-1982 The Complete Deluxe Years’ 2-cd set released in 2002 by Raven Records in Australia).
The song turned out so well that the band hired Mark Opitz to produce three more songs. But Manager Chris Murphy wasn’t convinced Opitz could produce an entire album slick enough to hook an international audience. So on April 21st, Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farriss and Kirk Pengilly then flew to England and America to meet with prospective producers.
They took the bands demos they had recorded with Opitz, but every producer told them not to mess with what they already had. U.S. Engineer Bob Clearmountain (who would later work with INXS on 'KICK’, ‘Welcome To Wherever You Are’ & 'Full Moon Dirty Hearts') advised them to go back to Australia and record the whole album with Mark Opitz.
Mark had already produced bands such as AC/DC, Cold Chisel and The Angels which had big guitar and drum beats. With ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ the band felt like they had finally developed a style and their own unique sound a mixture of funk and ‘rock n’ roll. You could hear it beginning on the previous album in songs like the title track ‘Underneath The Colours’ and with ‘Shoobah Shoobah’ they got a sound that made them sound different to the other bands in Australia at the time.
“I think ‘The One Thing’ was the first time we actually got that style, that groove” – (Michael Hutchence).
It was amid the new solid rhythm section from Garry and Jon, Andrew’s pure synth keyboards, Tim’s lead guitar and Kirk’s sax, that Michael Hutchence too found his style, a sultry, sexy and slightly on edge vocal.
The band took ‘The One Thing’ and played it to WEA executives and a deal with WEA Australia was struck almost immediately. The rest of ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ was then recorded at Rhinoceros Studios beginning on June 15th.
WEA Test Pressing for 'Shabooh Shoobah' dated 9/9/1982
So where does the phrase ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ come from? It came about in the early stages of recording the track ‘Spy Of Love’ which was written by Michael Hutchence & Tim Farriss. Tim began singing the phrase as a rhythmic chant as the band played. Even once Michael had written lyrics, the phrase stuck in the bands minds and it became the album title.
“They had all these really strict rules about their music. They were very determined to be different from all the four-on-the-floor pub rock bands, and they’d always be saying things like ‘We don’t do guitar solos’ – (Producer Mark Opitz)
In July, 1982 the first single ‘The One Thing’ was released in Australia and reached #14 on the charts. The video clip was directed by Soren Jensen and became INXS’s passport to break into America.
Over in America a new TV channel MTV had just launched and the New Wave era was kicking in. At first the band didn’t think MTV was such a big deal, as they had already made video clips since 1980 and Australia had TV shows like ’Countdown’ where a band would perform and create little performance clips.
MTV America put ‘The One Thing’ video into heavy rotation on the new channel and the song cracked the US top 40 peaking at #30 on the charts.
'The One Thing' sheet music
The video saw the band around a long banquet table with food, wine and a assortment of beautiful models including Michael’s girlfriend Michele Bennett. The food orgy sees everyone tearing meat from bone, lustily feed each other, toss dishes and devour figs. The Spanish hat Michael wore in the video clip belonged to his mum Patricia.Meanwhile back in Australia the band travelled to Adelaide to shoot more videos with director Scott Hicks, who would later win an Academy Award for his film ‘Shine’ in 1996.
Michael had go to know him as earlier that year Hicks had directed an Australia film ‘Freedom’ which Michael performed on 2 songs for the soundtrack with Don Walker (Cold Chisel) – ‘Speed Kills’ & ‘Forest Theme’.
It was originally planned that the band would travel with Hicks into the desert north of the city to shoot but bad weather changed their plans. They ended up shooting videos for ‘Don’t Change’ and ‘To Look At You’. But because ‘Spy Of Love’ was a band favourite off the album they shot a video for that track too, even when it wasn’t planned to be released as a single.
The 2nd single ‘Don’t Change’ was released in Australia and reached #15 on the charts.
'Don't Change' 1983 U.S. Tour Shirt
With two top 20 hits and a mammoth 78-date Australian tour titled ‘Una Brilliante Banda De Musica Amenizara Espectaculo’, INXS was fast becoming one of the biggest bands in Australia with a big live following.
Atco Records Managing Director Reen Nalli saw the band play in Sylvania (NSW) on October 23d and was very impressed, so in January 1983 INXS signed to Atco Records (Atlantic) for North America.
Sylvania Gig poster 23rd October, 1982
By the time the band arrived in LA in March 1983 for their first U.S. dates, they already had an American record deal and a top 30 U.S. hit with ‘The One Thing’.
The bands first U.S. performance was at ‘The Spirit Club’ in San Diego which attracted just 24 people! However the band then commenced a string of support tours for Adam and the Ants, The Kinks, The Stray Cats, Men At Work and The GoGos for most of the year, often getting better reviews and crowd reaction than the headline acts. INXS blew them all off the stage. Nearly every band INXS supported between 1983 – 1986 ended up breaking up!
A very important person in INXS’s American success was their co-manager at the time & tour manager Gary Grant. He relocated permanently to New York to ensure a continual presence in the northern hemisphere. He was on the spot actually travelling with the band across America.
Atco Records USA Promo Photo 1983
INXS earning priceless exposure through constant touring using days off between their support slots to do their own gigs in smaller clubs.
“That’s how we really broke into the American market, apart from the opening gigs on big tours, we always booked a few weeks of dates in smaller venues at the start and end of those support tours” – (Gary Grant)
So Americans would see the band in big venues as an opening band, and then they could experience INXS on a more intimate level in the clubs.
The 3rd single from ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ was ‘To Look At You’ which reached #36 in Australia. This was the first INXS single to have different formats. You could buy a single 7” or the Ltd Edition double pack 7”. The track was also released in U.S. as a single but failed to chart.
'To Look At You' sheet music
In May 1983 the band performed 4 songs at the massive U.S. Festival to 250,000 people on Day 1 (New Wave day) alongside other acts such as U2 and The Clash. That experience was pretty nerve racking for your first U.S. tour to play in front of that many people, as remember Michael was only 23 years old at that stage. The songs performed were ‘The One Thing’, ‘To Look At You’, Don’t Change’ and ‘Old World, New World’.
Massive crowd of 250,000 at U.S. Festival in 1983
The bands gig at Magic Mountain on August 5th was recorded for TV by Starfire Productions, and also recorded by Westwood One for radio broadcast. The tracks performed on the TV special were:
To Look At You
Old World, New World
Just Keep Walking
The One Thing
Spy Of Love
The Loved One
Black And White
This concert from Magic Mountain 1983 is a common bootleg DVD amongst fans, and in the early 90’s was also released on the factory pressed bootleg CD titled ‘ Don’t Look At Me’.
Magic Mountain 1983 was recorded for U.S. TV
A couple of live tracks from Magic Mountain ended up appearing as b-sides on the next album for the ‘Original Sin’ single. ‘Black & White’ was remixed and an extended version was released as the lead track on the ‘Dance’ EP 12” in Australia and ‘Dekadance’ EP in America and Canada. We will have a closer look at these releases in another story.
College radio was playing a big part in the bands success in America too as well, building a young dedicated fan base who would attend the shows and request the songs on radio.
'Touring Through Texas' Shirt Michael Hutchence wore at Magic Mountain gig 1983
The artwork concept for ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ was by Grant Matthews and Michael Hutchence and features a whippet dog. The inside of the cover features the band members wrapped in just a sheet.
So at a time when fashion was a big part of the New Wave era, INXS had an album design that was the complete opposite. They represented no fashion with the nude photo, the title ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ no one knew what it meant, a dog on the cover instead of the band, and American’s were still struggling to even pronounce the bands name! But it worked they were unique and not doing the same as all the other bands at the time.
'Shabooh Shoobah' Bandanas U.S. Tour 1983
“Shabooh Shoobah’ I listen to that album, I couldn’t really do that with the other albums, I really listen to it comfortably…” - (Michael Hutchence, 1985)
B-sides on singles from the ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ era included – ‘Space Shuttle’, ‘Phantim Of The Opera’, ‘The Sax Thing’, ‘Go West’, ‘Long In Tooth’ and ‘You Never Used To Cry’.
Three tracks from ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ – ('The One Thing', 'To Look At You' and 'Soul Mistake') also appeared in the U.S. movie ‘Reckless’ starring Daryl Hannah and Aidan Quinn during 1984.
An interesting fact is that the lyric “Here’s Comes God’s Top Ten” from the ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ track ‘Here Comes’ would later be used by Andrew Farriss as the title of the track about Michael Hutchence featured on 2005’s ‘Switch’ Album. The song featured vocals from Rockstar INXS winner JD Fortune and 4th placed Suzie McNeil.
30 years on and tracks from ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ still stand up today, with ‘Don’t Change’ often covered by many bands over the last couple of decades. ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ established the bands style of funk and rock which would serve them well on the huge selling albums to follow.
(All INXS / Michael Hutchence Memorabilia from Matthew Marsland's personal collection).
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