INXS have never been shy of merchandising, and hot on the heels of some eight other video collections released in various regions worldwide comes what is being described as "the complete INXS package".
This two DVD box set does seem to be a comprehensive, not to say exhaustive, collection of the audio-visual antics of Hutchence, the Farrisses, Pengilly and Beers.
First and most importantly, there is the chronological procession of 25 singles videos from Just Keep Walking in 1980 through classics such as Original Sin, Devil Inside, and Suicide Blonde, to the 1997 track Elegantly Wasted. Each video is prefaced by one of the band members giving some background about the making of the video and what they remembered of the shoot, the director, and the rationale. These reminiscences add a touch of intimacy and often humour, as well as offering a unique insight into what was originally trying to be achieved.
Seeing the singles in such proximity shows how far and how quickly the band grew from being a pub type group of young skinny guys with attitude into worldwide rockstars. Just Keep Walking (Pengilly's opening comment: "We were so thin!") shows a handful of musical youngsters with an attitude of self-belief but with some very poor dancing from Mr Hutchence. By 1985, however, with tracks like What You Need and Listen Like Thieves, the charisma and rhythm were fully formed.
In retrospect it is sometimes difficult to see how ground-breaking the videos were for their time. Mixes of animation (What You Need, Need You Tonight), funky lights (New Sensation, This Time), story style (The One Thing, Listen Like Thieves), and key words being shown across the screen (Mediate, Bitter Tears, Beautiful Girl) unfold so quickly and easily that it is easy to simply let them wash over.
The variety of styles across the videos is partly because INXS were able to use many different directors, and seems partly because the band were prepared to give anything a go. This latter is shown off particularly in Listen Like Thieves where there is a fairy on stage with a flame thrower, and on the door into the theatre where they are playing is a sign saying: "INXS - available for weddings, parties, anything".
David Mallet's vision in Shining Star, involving dogs peeing on car wheels, women with mousetraps on their suspenders, and nightclubs with hidden switches to throw unwanted men out into the garbage, is another example of how they were ready to try something different. On the other end of the scale, pared down videos such as that for Mystify, which starts with Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence at the piano in the rehearsal studio, show off the raw musical talent without the need for hi-tech '80s gadgetry.
But the singles are only one part of this package. The second DVD contains live footage from a variety of INXS's gigs from 1980 (a bizarrely ska sounding band) to 1997, encompassing a small venue, a festival or two, a Japanese temple complete with giant Buddha, and the Wembley gig familiar to those fans who bought the Live Baby Live DVD last year. Each of these is also introduced by one or more band members, and their genuine enthusiasm for particular performances, such as 1996's Searching, adds depth and interest for the viewer.
For those fans who already have the previous video and dvd collections, there is a whole host of rare and unreleased footage, both live and video remixes, to whet the whistle, as well as interviews with key people in INXS's video career, such as Richard Lowenstein, who directed 10 of the videos.
At over four hours this is a package which should keep the aficionado happy, while the collection in one place of all the singles will appeal to the more casual fan. This is a well thought out and balanced selection, although its all-encompassing nature would appear to limit the scope for future with-Hutchence releases and leave the rest of the band free to pursue their bizarre decision to find a replacement via Australian reality TV.