What You Need

Composed by Andrew Farriss / Michael Hutchence

Song Review by

The leadoff track from their 1985 LP, Listen Like Thieves, "What You Need" was the first American Top Ten hit for Australian dance rockers INXS, and arguably the first stone-cold classic single for a group who produced more than their fair share. "What You Need" had a stomping groove that sounded a little like the Rolling Stones without the blues influence, plus a swaggering performance by vocalist Michael Hutchence. The arrangement was spacious and the parts of the individual instruments simple, allowing them all to interlock easily -- from the electronic drums and driving, rumbling bass line to the spare chordal strokes of the guitars and the stylish saxophone. During the chorus, the guitars suddenly kick up the intensity, hitting ringing power chords as the drums pound harder behind them. After the second chorus, there's also a funky breakdown in which Hutchence chants the title over a drumbeat with effects layered over his voice; the guitar enters and plays a down-and-dirty single-note riff before returning to the verse figure. Like nearly every great pop single, "What You Need" is tightly constructed, with no wasted space or unnecessary repetition anywhere. Even though INXS would prove themselves a terrific pop outfit many times over the next few years, "What You Need" remains one of their most infectious numbers.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1985 Atlantic
Hits of the 80's [Priddis] 1992
Various Artists
Classic Rock Box: WNEW-FM 25th Anniversary Box 1992
Various Artists
PolyGram 3:35
The Greatest Hits [Universal] 1994 Atlantic 3:35
18 Modern Rock Classics from the 80's 1996
Various Artists
Essex 3:33
Modern Rock 1986: Hang the DJ 1996
Various Artists
Rhino 3:39
That Sound from Down Under 1996
Various Artists
Hot Dance Classics, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 3:34
Backtrax USA with Kid Kelly 1998
Various Artists
Straight Ahead Recordings / Sar 3:34
Doubleshot: Modern Rock 2000
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:36
Club Mix Retro: The '80s, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Cold Front Records 3:36
Shine Like It Does: The Anthology (1979-1997) 2001 Rhino 3:36
The Best of INXS [Rhino] 2002 Rhino 3:34
Like, Omigod! The '80s Pop Culture Box (Totally) 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 3:35
Definitive INXS 2002 Universal International 3:35
Casey Kasem Presents: America's Top Ten - The 80's New Wave 2003
Various Artists
Top Sail Productions 3:34
80's Pop Music for Dummies 2003
Various Artists
Superb Records 3:37
I'm Only Looking: The Best of INXS 2004 Rhino
Need You Tonight and Other Hits 2004 Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 3:36
The Videos 2007 Universal Distribution
Rhino Classic Albums Collection [f.y.e. Exclusive] 2009 Rhino 3:36
Hot Tub Time Machine [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2010
Original Soundtrack
Rhino 3:33
Listen Like Thieves/X 2012 ADA / Relayer Records 3:36
Best of 1986: 20th Century Masters
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 3:38
Just Can't Get Enough: Pop Hits of the '80s
Various Artists