OK, let me say immediately that this debut effort is far from a good album. It’s fair at best. It sounds like a rough collection of unrelated material cobbled together. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in an INXS review, the band was better at singles than albums. There’s always filler on their records. Of course, this is no exception.
It’s Australian pub rock infused with a healthy dose of keyboard-heavy new wave. In fact, on a few tracks like Learn to Smile and In Vain (both equal highlights here), the synth is out front and blaring. It has a rough and crude sound too, indicative of the cheap, early 80s relic that it is. To be honest, INXS never really got away from this sound completely until Listen Like Thieves. For all of the production money sunk into Shabooh Shoobah and The Swing, they’re really just updated versions of this record, with slightly better songs and stronger songwriting.
There was only one single released from this record – Just Keep Walking, and it’s a doozy. They wanted to release In Vain but were vetoed by their then record company. Apart from the aforementioned Learn to Smile, the only other standout track is album closer Wishy Washy. Everything else is pretty much faceless. Not a great start IMHO, all things considered, but it got INXS in the charts and got them going on to greater and more global things.
Broken Angels by Richard K. Morgan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In an interview with an Australian SF magazine, Richard Morgan stated that he dislikes two or three star reviews of his stuff. Sorry about that, but this book is a three star affair. It’s involving and interesting enough to where you want to keep reading but it’s a muddle in places and the author gets carried away with his plethora of ideas.
No, it’s not as good as the book before it, and you can put that down to a loss of focus. The book’s reach exceeds its grasp.
And Kovacs isn’t as interesting this time around as he was in Altered Carbon. A touch of the old cardboard has crept in.
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A long time ago in a galaxy right here, there was a Sydney band called The Expression. According to a DJ on a radio station at the time, they were “the new band that everyone’s talking about”. I only ever heard one of their songs – 1983’s With Closed Eyes, which was about their only song you could classify as a hit. There’s two videos for it, a world-wide one showing the band involved in some unnamed warzone (though there’s an assumption out there it’s Nicaragua), and another they made so they wouldn’t offend American sensibilities, which just showed the band mostly playing live.
(Edit: it’s not letting me embed them any more)
The US release
The world-wide one
To be fair, of everything of theirs I’ve heard, it’s their best song by some way. The remainder of their material, which can be found on Youtube and sites like this one, is undistinguished new wave/synthpop with their second album veering into spacey adult contemporary territory. Nothing on either album really stands up and takes notice like With Closed Eyes though Total Eclipse is an OK track and some of the fretless bass work is pretty good. Yet, I’ll be brutally honest, and say they created two albums of filler. Anyone who bought their first record on the strength of their biggest single probably has cause to feel ripped off. There’s nothing else even remotely like it on the LP.
Faced with a distinct lack of chart success, they disbanded in 1985. The lead singer Tom Haran, has released a couple of solo records.
So why did I post about them and their music? I’ve had the chorus of With Closed Eyes jiving through my mind lately for whatever reason, so off to Youtube I went and did some rediscovering. There you have it.