It’s been almost 30 years since INXS released their breakthrough album Listen Like Thieves. Released in October 1985, Listen Like Thieves was the bands 5th studio effort and their first album collaboration with producer Chris Thomas. This new alliance proved to be a winning formula, as Chris Thomas would later produce INXS’ most successful albums, KICK (1987) and X (1990).
Listen Like Thieves begins with the albums most recognized track, “What You Need”. This funk infused rock track was the bands first U.S. Top 10 Hit and went top 20 in Canada and #2 in the band’s home country of Australia. It also won Video of the Year at the “Countdown Music and Video Awards (an Australian pop music tv series). Not bad, considering it was the last track written for the album and only composed in one day.
INXS truly captured their sound on this album, particularly on the songs “What You Need”, “Kiss the Dirt” (falling down the mountain), and “Shine Like It Does” which were all written by Andrew Farris and Michael Hutchence. This album is consistent with catchy melodies and undeniable hooks-definitely the bands greatest artistic achievement up to that point.
The charisma Michael Hutchence possessed is heard in his vocals, and it transcends with passion and vigorous emotion throughout the album. Jon Farris’ playing on the drums is more rock driven then on previous albums, but you can still catch his funky flavour on “What You Need” and “One x One”. Kirk Pengilly absolutely nails it on the Sax. The Saxophone emerged on many New Wave/Alternative Rock albums, but no band executed it as well as INXS.
Furthermore, the listening journey begins with the album’s cover art, and the cover to Listen Like Thieves is my favourite in the band’s catalog. This cover contains a huge INXS logo with a silhouette of Michael Hutchence performing with the band. Yellow and orange stage lights are shining in the background; providing a sunset atmosphere. On top of that, the album’s title is coloured in with contrasting shades of pink, purple and white; (hey, it was the 80’s). This layout compliments the albums music though. It’s loud and makes a statement, saying, “we’ve arrived and we’re gonna win”.
The album contains hits but even the lesser known songs should be played on rotation. It oozes 80’s alternative rock and it’s an exciting and admirable album to listen to-from its opening drum fill on “What You Need” to its rocking guitar driven ending on “Red Red Sun”. Listen Like Thieves is a must have album for any 80’s Rock/Alternative fan; regardless if you own INXS – Greatest Hits, your collection isn’t complete without Listen Like Thieves.