- INXS’s one true Masterpiece album comes to the site with two KILLER sides each rating a Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Surprisingly rich and full-bodied, the best copies really ROCK with big bass and punchy drums.
- The Big Rock sound is courtesy of Chris Thomas’ production and Bob Clearmountain’s mix
- “Kick is an impeccably crafted pop tour de force, the band succeeding at everything they try. Every track has at least a subtly different feel from what came before it; INXS freely incorporates tense guitar riffs, rock & roll anthems, swing-tinged pop/rock, string-laden balladry, danceable pop-funk, horn-driven ’60s soul, ’80s R&B, and even a bit of the new wave-ish sound they’d started out with.”
For a recording from 1987 there is a surprising amount of rich, Tubey Magical Analog sound to be found here.
There is almost always a trace of hardness in the loudest vocal parts; that’s where the 1987 recording technology raises its head, but the better copies such as this one keep it to a bare minimum.
The copies that were the richest and had the biggest bottom end, without being smeary or dark from a lack of top tended to do the best in our shootout. The copies that lacked weight or lower midrange fullness were most often rejected; rhythmically driven Funk Rock simply doesn’t work without plenty of richness and bass.
What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1987
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
If you know some of the albums mentioned below well you probably have a good grip on the sound of this one.
By the early ’70s, Thomas was among the busiest producers in the industry… [working with Procol Harum], he also mixed classics including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets.
However, his greatest early success came as a result of his long stint with Roxy Music, producing the group’s groundbreaking LPs For Your Pleasure, Stranded, and Siren.
From Roxy’s signature glam rock sound, Thomas was next thrust headlong into punk, helming the Sex Pistols’ 1977 landmark debut Never Mind the Bollocks; he also began a long relationship with the Pretenders that yielded not only their renowned self-titled 1980 debut effort, but also the group’s 1984 comeback, Learning to Crawl.
Thomas’ other primary focus of the period [of the ’80s] was INXS — after helming the group’s 1985 breakthrough album, Listen Like Thieves, he moved on to their 1987 smash Kick.
Producer, engineer, and mixer Bob Clearmountain is among the most acclaimed studio kingpins in all of contemporary pop. As the ’80s dawned, Clearmountain not only produced up-and-comers like Bryan Adams and the Church, but also engineered records for superstars like David Bowie [Let’s Dance, Top 100] and Roxy Music [Avalon].
His breakthrough year was 1984, when he produced Adams’ smash Reckless and Hall & Oates’ Big Bam Boom, as well as mixing Bruce Springsteen’s landmark Born in the U.S.A. Often working in tandem with co-producer Jimmy Iovine, Clearmountain moved on to hits from INXS (Kick), Simple Minds (Once Upon a Time), and the Pretenders (Get Close).
What We Listen For on Kick
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Guns in the Sky
Need You Tonight
The Loved One
Never Tear Us Apart
Calling All Nations
“What You Need” had taken INXS from college radio into the American Top Five, but there was little indication that the group would follow it with a multi-platinum blockbuster like Kick. Where the follow-ups to “What You Need” made barely a ripple on the pop charts, Kick spun off four Top Ten singles, including the band’s only American number one, “Need You Tonight.”
Kick crystallized all of the band’s influences — Stones-y rock & roll, pop, funk, contemporary dance-pop — into a cool, stylish dance/rock hybrid. It was perfectly suited to lead singer Michael Hutchence’s feline sexuality, which certainly didn’t hurt the band’s already inventive videos.
But it wasn’t just image that provided their breakthrough. For the first (and really only) time, INXS made a consistently solid album that had no weak moments from top to bottom.
More than that, really, Kick is an impeccably crafted pop tour de force, the band succeeding at everything they try. Every track has at least a subtly different feel from what came before it; INXS freely incorporates tense guitar riffs, rock & roll anthems, swing-tinged pop/rock, string-laden balladry, danceable pop-funk, horn-driven ’60s soul, ’80s R&B, and even a bit of the new wave-ish sound they’d started out with. More to the point, every song is catchy and memorable, branded with indelible hooks. Even without the band’s sense of style, the flawless songcraft is intoxicating, and it’s what makes Kick one of the best mainstream pop albums of the ’80s.