INXS

Original Sin

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Having seen their permanent replacement, J.D. Fortune, recently fall off the rails, some might say it was time the INXS name was laid to rest. But six years after the largely ignored Switch, the Farriss brothers and co. are back with Original Sin, a star-studded tribute record featuring 12 new interpretations of some of their biggest hits. Depending on your viewpoint, the whole concept could be seen as a brave attempt to introduce some of their classic material to a new audience, or a lazy retread of former glories which cheapens the legacy of their late frontman Michael Hutchence. But whatever your stance on their post-1997 career, it's inarguably admirable just how much free reign each of the wildly eclectic collaborators are given to make these songs their own. Indeed, other than the straightforward rendition of closing number "The Stairs" (the only track to feature the aforementioned Fortune), and the impassioned, U2-esque treatment afforded to "Beautiful Girl" (featuring Train's Pat Monahan), the majority of the covers are virtually unrecognizable from the source material. This radical approach occasionally produces some surprisingly pleasing results. "Mediate," one of five tracks taken from their 1987 juggernaut Kick, is given an effectively claustrophobic makeover thanks to its warped basslines, crunching distorted guitars, and Tricky's hypnotic dark whisperings; bandmember Kirk Pengilly is unlikely to leave a dry eye in the house with his haunting and stripped-back choral reworking of early new wave single "Don't Change," and Argentine singer/songwriter Deborah DeCorral transforms the '80s funk of "New Sensation" into a gorgeous slice of understated country-blues. There are times, though, when the dream team lineup creates a nightmare. Ben Harper and Mylene Farmer's disjointed, bilingual duet "Never Tear Us Apart" is a cacophonous mess, which completely destroys the majesty of the original, French vocalist Loane and John Mayer turns the pounding piano-pop of "Mystify" into a self-indulgent slice of trippy space rock, while even Rob Thomas' best Hutchence impression can't save the misguided and formulaic, filtered, Gallic house retooling of the title track. The sole new composition, the meandering industrial electro opener "Drum Opera," indicates why the band seem so keen to revisit their past, but while Original Sin is likely to leave many hardened fans dismayed, there are a few encouraging moments which justify its addition to their cherished back catalog.

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