Following semi-hits with 'New Sensation' (No. 25) and 'Never Tear Us Apart' (No. 24), INXS finally had a huge British hit with 'Need You Tonight' which made No. 2 in November 1988.I'm the sort of person who loves the fact that the first three INXS singles to make the Top 40 in the UK all had titles that started with the letters "Ne", and indeed their fourth was 'Mystify', which would be next to them in an alphabetical list. For that matter, a Top 40 debut called 'New Sensation' is a pretty neat coincidence too. We're pretty lucky to get all these coincidences here in the UK too, since we were one of the last big Western markets to embrace the Australian rock superstars; not only big in their home market and in other European countries, they'd managed a US Top 10 hit a couple of years earlier and this song topped the Billboard chart on first time of asking, whereas over here it took a re-release after other songs had established for this to become their first (and. it turned out, last) Top 10 single.
Looking back now, it's hard to imagine a world where this wasn't a hit single, so massive did it ultimately become. It's equally hard to imagine an act better designed for late-80s success than INXS, with their MTV-friendly combination of hard rock riffs and funky rhythms, to say nothing of the obviously handsome Michael Hutchence and his onstage charisma. 'Need You Tonight' is perhaps the definitive expression of their particular style and an effective showcase for Hutchence's raw sexuality. He's in his element here, from the opening whisper of "Come over here" onwards. Of course, when I was 10 years old I didn't really understand that, nor understand the double-meaning of "I need you tonight, 'cause I'm not sleeping". But I could still tell it was catchy, thanks to the riff that Andrew Farriss apparently came up with in a taxi; it is a little bit similar to 'Another One Bites The Dust' but then again that's derived from 'Good Times' so Queen couldn't, and as far I know didn't, object. And whilst I wouldn't have thought to compare the two until I bought Now 14, this does have something of the techno-rock sound of 'She Drives Me Crazy', with a similarly focused arrangement and a brief running time that makes it seem more action-packed. This even goes one better by having a proper ending - as Hutchence repeats with ever-greater insistence "I've got to let you know", the rest of the band drop out for him to whisper into your ear "You're one of my kind". At least, that's what happens on every other copy of this song I've ever come across (including the video of course), but on Now 14 they've lopped off this punchline, which does spoil things a bit. Still, even as an INXS sceptic I can't dispute that this track is something of a classic.
Also appearing on: Now 15, 18, 19, 20, 23
Available on: Kick (Remastered)