Underneath the VInyls: How INXS 2nd album Underneath The Colours made me a record collector

Posted: July 20, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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It’s no secret to anyone that I’m an 80’s fan. Anyone who knows me also knows that I have a top 10 of 80’s bands that I constantly return to, even after a long-distance love affair at times. INXS is one of those bands- easily number 3; sometimes number 2 when Boy George and Culture Club’s poppy love songs in reverse get me annoyed.

I’m not, by nature, an optimistic shark circling my next victim. However, I’m not the most negative person on the planet. There’s always a light to the dark side. It’s not often easy to remember those things when you’re young, wild, & free (insert laugh track here). It’s often up to an artist, an author, a muse of some type that you can adore from afar, whose messages and words move you into a different hemisphere. That’s definitely the case with INXS. Duran Duran, you know, they were the ones who brought poppy, synth-heavy “music you can dance to when they drop the bomb” (Simon LeBon, for the record). They’re always going to be my favorite band, but they were, and remain, my guilty pleasure. INXS appealed to me more on a visceral and cerebral level. The fact that Michael Hutchence was nice eye candy only helped, to be honest. INXS were, and still are, the go-to for any days when I am doubting anything. The message of positivity still rings true throughout their records now, a fact that still confounds me when you remember that Michael Hutchence committed suicide in 1997.

I first found this record at Tower Records in downtown Chicago. On compact disc, which was the new “happening” thing at that time. Tower still had bins of vinyl all over; as well as cassettes hanging on by a limb, imports, magazines (oh, the days before these fucking E-readers took print media out of stores everywhere), and the gone-and-no-one-really-cares laserdisc. My Tower Records love affair was due completely to the influence of one Chuck Contreras, aka Disco Chuck. I never met anyone who loved vinyl and movie collectibles, and shopping for them, as much as Chuck did (well, now I know Dave, but I digress). So I had a partner in crime (some backstory here; Chuck had a thing for me, but I was oblivious and didn’t see it because I was too busy hanging onto Biceps for Jesus at that time. It didn’t end well). I found out about most of the area’s well-known record stores through Chuck. Red Tower Records in Orland Park, Unabused Music in Bridgeview, Discount Records in Midlothian, The Crow’s Nest in Crest Hill, Tower Records downtown, Beverly Records in Beverly, etc. I still can’t remember all the places we hit. We hit some huge record convention in Joliet that was an entire football field’s worth of tables. I dropped about $200, and that was in the days before the economy sucked. But nothing compared to Tower Records in finding the obscure vinyl, back in the early 90’s. One night in 1992, I found the CD for Underneath The Colours, the largely unknown 2nd album from INXS. At this point, INXS were on top of the world, having Kicked ass with a slew of successful albums and tours worldwide. The Swing brought them some long sought after acclaim in the US, due to the song and video for Original Sin, a song about interracial relationships. It turned out to be the song that broke them on MTV in the States. Following that was Listen Like Thieves, and then the multi-platinum smash Kick, which launched them into superstardom. But this was the 2nd album! I didn’t even know it existed. I knew none of the songs. I had to have it. Except I didn’t. It wasn’t on vinyl.

Let me explain further about why the CD wasn’t the smart move. I had a crappy, ready to explode sound system at the house. I tried to sell it to various people, but they were all wise enough to turn me down. My mom begged me to throw it out, because she was afraid that I would blow up the fucking house. I refused because I couldn’t part with the record player. Those days, it was hard to find a record player in any sound system. So I refused, despite the fact that it may have blown my house in Willow Springs into the towering inferno. Because it was a record player, man, and vinyl was, and remains, my first love. So I walked out of that Tower Records without a CD copy of Underneath The Colours, but with more important things- namely, knowledge of the existence of that album, and a burning desire to find it on vinyl. Chuck was rather tactfully informed of my desire to procure the vinyl, and it began a 6-month record store odyssey to find the vinyl.

Again, a side note. These were the days without the massive media spitball known as the Internet, so your best chance of hearing music that you had no idea existed, was next to none. My best bet was to steal Heidi’s library card (ok, that’s kind of harsh, she lent it to me readily, but I was a little more obsessed with using it than she was) because Willow Springs never had a library and to join the Justice or Bridgeview one was $200. Steep in those days, so I borrowed hers and used it. Except I hit all the suburban libraries. Yes, I went to Blue Island, Bridgeview, Justice, LaGrange, and all points in between, trying to find a library that may have had Underneath The Colours on CD or cassette, so I could rent it and listen to it. No luck, so i had no idea if the album was a godsend or a flaming bag of suck. After that panned out like Al Capone’s Vault, I decided I had to re-focus the hunt on record stores again. Chuck and I hit the Holiday Inn Record Show in Hillside at the Holiday Inn, no dice. That’s actually where I found my vinyl copy of Kick, so I didn’t complain. And I became aware that they had this wonderful gathering every month, so there was always the chance that someone would have a copy. So began the obsession with the ARC Record Show, which didn’t take long to hook Heidi into attending (oh, the Duran we found) and Jennie eventually ended up going, looking for Gary Numan collectibles. I had just about given up hope of ever finding it when it finally came into my possession- purely by accident and a Faith No More finding mission.

By this time, I had a new bunch of people working at LCP with me and my brother. A young man named Nick Jedd enlightened me to a little band called Faith No More. Talk about love at first listen. Nick also enlightened my brother and I to the existence of a little record store in downtown LaGrange, called Beautiful Day. We left LCP one day and were hunting for a vinyl copy of We Care A Lot, when for some reason, I went over to the I’s and looked under INXS. There it sat. In plastic. An import. For $26. Now, don’t scoff. In 1992, that was a good deal of money for someone who was flipping pizzas for $6.25 an hour. I didn’t hesitate. Mike Patton and Co. would have to wait another day. I had to have that album. My brother wouldn’t let up in making fun of the Australian accent. I got home, and opened it up. Flawless Victory. I put it on. What a revelation. I was not totally thrilled with the material, although I loved” Stay Young”, “Big Go Go”, and “Underneath The Colours”I was largely unmoved on the rest, but as any fan would, I came home every day and religiously listened to it, and learned to love the quirkiness, and the political slant that Michael and Co. have on a number of songs on that album. The cover is god awful. It looks like something you would have found on a hand towel in a bathroom that Patrick Bateman would have been doing lines in, circa 1981. But the memories?? You can’t put a price on nostalgia, and the blood lust that consumes someone who collects these vinyl discs of memories. INXS always remind me of the light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s just something so innately satisfying about coming home and putting a record on that took you forever and many treks to obtain. You have to have something to give a shit about; and if it’s vinyl and you have gotten your hands on something that eluded you for eons, well, there’s nothing that can compare to that feeling of sonic nirvana.

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