It is my belief that to comment thoroughly on an album, it takes at least five full, uninterrupted listens within a 10-day period. Appropriately, I am sitting down to write my comments on Original Sin, the 2011 INXS reinvention/ tribute album, after my fifth complete listen. I read the press release, describing the making of this album, after I had listened to it multiple times. I had no idea that original INXS members were not just overseeing the production of each song but also playing on them! That suggests an extra level of commitment on one level and also poses a fragile need to balance and temper their influence on the guest musicians.
And now, to separate the wows from the okays.
This disc opens up with an earthquake of percussion entitled “Drum Opera,” amounting to one of the best drums solos I have ever heard. It dovetails effectively with track two, a revised take on INXS classic “Mediate,” wherein Tricky commandingly pounds out the familiar dictionary of lyrics. Track four, the heartfelt remake of the already heartfelt “Never Tear Us Apart,” incorporates a soulful Ben Harper without his customary slide guitar sound. It is exciting to hear him nuanced in front of a symphonic background ,with the aid of French singer Mylene Farmer. And, continuing on the topic of French musicians, track eight, “Mystify,” also has an international shine to it. “Mystify,” as it was originally composed, already had an eloquent allure to it, and to translate the lyrics into French and then send them through Loane’s charismatic vocals results in sure-fire seduction. Towards the end of the album — track 10 to be exact — we find a darker intrigue in Nikka Costa’s lower register interpretation of “Kick.” This is the one song on this album which is my preferred version to the original, perhaps due to its challenging the original’s uplifting sentiment. And while speaking of serious changes, Deborah de Corral offers perhaps the biggest departure from the original version of the song she reformulates, by stripping down “New Sensation” into something resembling a religious hymn. I am not a churchgoer, but if the music sounded like this, I could be convinced to attend a service.