Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Month: Jan 2013

INXS – Listen Like Thieves

Another INXS record, another crazy title. This is INXS’s fifth long player, and it’s better than anything that came before. Certainly better than Shabooh Shoobah which has more filler than this. Listen Like Thieves is about as close as INXS got to releasing an LP that was filler-free. Yes, even the old classic Kick has padding.

Some of the weird keyboard doodlings of yore are still present on this album, but it takes a back seat to the drum-heavy blues/funk/new-wave crossover that this band became renowned for. While The Swing began heading in this direction, it still possessed a lot of the band’s pub rock sensibilities. They’re all but gone now and INXS have progressed into the big league.

Contrary to how it usually went in the 80s, it’s Side Two that has all the great music. From the opening roar of Biting Bullets to the thundering quasi-metal of Red, Red Sun, Side Two just soars along. Same Direction is the album highlight and rates amongst the top 5 of anything they ever did. This Time is there too, as is the Australian bush-in-summer instrumental of Three Sisters.

Side One has the filler, alas. Take away What You Need and Kiss The Dirt, and you can happily write it off. Truthfully, the record is worth buying just for Side Two. As I said, this is as good as INXS got with making an LP full of killer songs. Enjoy it.

listen like thieves

Killing Joke – Night Time

This was Killing Joke’s breakout record, on the strength of the song Love Like Blood which doesn’t really sound like anything else on the LP. I’ll be straight up and say I’ve heard only bits and pieces of their older and newer albums. I owned What’s THIS For? but never got into it. I own Absolute Dissent and the same is true there. Never gelled. There’s a few reasons for this. You could argue most of their songs have a similar sound. That’s purely the fault (if you want to call it that) of guitarist Geordie Walker. His echo-y and reverb-drenched riffing is very distinctive and even the outsider could spot a Killing Joke song a mile off just on this basis.

Night Time is probably no exception with regards to the “sameyness”. Seven out of the eight songs here are driven by similar beats and riffs. I suppose so is Love Like Blood, but there, everything is slowed down a touch and the keyboard becomes front and centre. And you may have to listen to this record repeatedly. It may grab you on first listen, but I doubt it. It’s an acquired taste. Still, there’s some great music here – the title track rocks out and sets the stage for things to come. Darkness Before Dawn continues the same mid-tempo vein but for my mind, Tabazan is the album highlight, pacy and racy with some very keen lyrics. The remainder of the album blends into a riff-heavy murk and nothing else truly stands out. Eighties is a fan favourite but I’m not that taken with it.

This record is a lot heavier than most stuff that floated about in the the mid-80s charts, if you discount heavy metal and its ilk. There’s also no fun or humour here. Killing Joke are very much serious business and what humour they have is directed toward cynicism and sarcasm.


Steve Kilbey – Unearthed

Should be listened to in the bedroom and out of it says the groove notes, and I can happily say I’ve followed those instructions to the letter. Even without the benefit of psychedelic substances, this record is a stupendous winner. It’s different enough from anything released by The Church to please non-fans of that band, but similar enough for others to feel as if they’re walking on comfortable ground.

This wonderful record was released in the afterglow of Heyday, itself a masterpiece, and it’s provided me with years of sublime enjoyment. Make no mistake – it’s not mainstream music; far from it, but once you’ve delved into the record’s delights you’re not likely to leave soon.

The word “shimmering” gets heaved about a bit when referring to The Church, yet that’s exactly what this LP does. It shimmers. And it occasionally sparkles and stutters. In your face, but still mysterious tracks like Transference does all of the above, then there’s the hypnotic zig-zagging Swampdrone and Heliopolis, both of which will stay in your mind long after the record has stopped. Kilbey even slappas da bass on Design Error, and throws in a blast from a whistle for good measure. Things go up tempo with Judgement Day, reflective with Othertime, and positively weird on Famine

The record was self-produced and recorded at home by Kilbey, and that precisely what it feels like. Low-budget, low-fi and yet disturbingly effective. If anything out there has to be labelled “alternative rock” then this is it. This is what it’s about. This is easily one of the better records I’ve touched on here.

The CD release adds a couple of tracks, Forgetfulness and Nonapology.