Release Year: 1991
INXS were one of the most successful bands of the 80s and early 90s. Thanks to albums like Kick, they gained a mass following, which lead to their major world tour in 1991. They played at sold out venues around the globe, including Wembley Stadium in London. The tour was such a hit a live album was released gathering performances from shows in Chicago, London, Dublin, and Las Vegas to name a few. Considering how INXS were passionate performers, you would expect the LP to be exciting. Rather, it’s a huge disappointment.
When live albums are bad it’s not always something to do with sound quality or the merit of the band. Sometimes an artist is so polished and good at what they do on stage, it doesn’t transfer well without visuals. This is the case for this INXS live album. With a decent setlist culled from the band’s major releases, it sounds more like a greatest hits collection than a live record. These versions of “Guns In the Sky,” “Need You Tonight,” “The One Thing,” and “ What You Need” sound like their studio counterparts. It’s not that Michael Hutchence and crew sound bad. They just don’t deviate very much to make these versions stand out from the album recordings. By the time you reach the lackluster song “The Stairs” you’re ready to move on to something else.
What makes this release so strange are all the weird interludes tacked on the end of certain songs. Tracks like “Suicide Blonde” and “Mediate” have odd endings. The former has some blues jam while Hutchence repeats “Flowers, not finance” at the end, while the latter finishes with a jangly piano tune while the guys sing about someone not having pants on. These endings are unfitting for both tracks and leave listeners scratching their heads. What the fuck just happened? It sounds like some weird interlude that played between tracks during their live show, but it doesn’t make sense without the visuals. It just sounds random and ruins the mood of the album.
This LP spawned one new single titled “Shining Star,” which is on the tracklisting. But this song is strange because it doesn’t sound like a live track at all. Rather, it sounds like a studio recording slapped in the middle of this live LP. Here is where all the crowd sounds disappear and only reappear when the song ends. Also, the track fades out, which convinces me it’s just an ordinary studio recording they decided to place in the middle of the record instead of the end. It ruins the whole flow of the album making it stick out. On top of that, it’s not even a very good song.
Live Baby Live doesn’t do INXS justice. Live albums are supposed to be exciting and immersive. This one is just dull. It’s not engaging, it’s all over the place, and the band sounds too polished that half the time you’re convinced it’s not a live recording. If anything, this release convinces you INXS were boring and lame,which is far from the truth. Honestly, you’re better off listening to one of their albums if you want to experience the band. My recommendation? Kick.