25 Years Ago: INXS Releases First Live Album ‘Live Baby Live’
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Looking back on the career of INXS, 1991 might be considered the peak of the band’s worldwide popularity. Although the Australian rockers didn’t release a new studio LP that year, they did capitalize on a succession of blockbuster albums with a massive world tour that brought INXS to new places and bigger venues. It resulted in the live album, Live Baby Live.
In the midst of INXS’ Summer XS tour, on July 13, 1991, the band sold out London’s Wembley Stadium. The date was also the sixth anniversary of the original Live Aid. At the enormous venue, INXS played a concert for more than 70,000 fans, a show that band members would eventually consider “definitive moment” of the group’s run.
“Growing up as a kid, there was only a few venues that reached you back on your black and white television, back here in the ’70s,” bassist Garry Gary Beers said in the Wembley XS documentary. “And one was Wembley Stadium, the other was Madison Square Garden. We’d already kind of played multiple nights at Madison Square Garden, so to finally get to Wembley Stadium and to sell it out … it really felt that we had achieved something quite amazing.”
Having a sense of the big moment, the band arranged to have the entire show filmed by music video director David Mallet, who had previously worked with David Bowie, Queen and AC/DC. INXS planned to release the concert later that year on home video, in tandem with the sextet’s first-ever live album. It was an ideal time to work on such releases, as each served as a sort-of live greatest hits for the band, including such ’80s and early ’90s hits as “What You Need,” “New Sensation,” “Need You Tonight” and “Suicide Blonde.”
“It’s not going to be like most live albums, because there’s gonna be very few overdubs on it,” guitarist Tim Farriss told MTV News in advance of the record, indicating how well-oiled the INXS live machine had become over an eight-month tour.
While the video focused on one, gargantuan concert, the album featured tracks captured at various INXS dates. The recordings spanned four continents and some of the world’s biggest cities, from Chicago to Melbourne to Paris to Rio de Janeiro. In addition to the concert material, INXS also made a new studio recording for the project. “Shining Star” would be released as a single to promote the new album.
Watch the Video for “Shooting Star”
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The Aussie band titled the concert recording Live Baby Live, after the opening line of “New Sensation,” but they later specified that they intended two different versions of the word “live.” The first instance was supposed to rhyme with give, while the second should rhyme with five.
The VHS tape and CD were released with the same title on Nov. 11, 1991, following on the heels of the studio single “Shining Star.” All three were sizable hits in many countries around the world, with the album hitting No. 3 in INXS’ native land and No. 8 in the U.K. Although the Live Baby Live CD went platinum in the U.S., it didn’t chart quite as high as it did elsewhere (Billboard No. 72), an indication that INXS’ slick brand of rock was on the wane in a country that was about to embrace grunge.
Although the band would remain popular in Britain and Australia for the next several years, INXS wouldn’t reclaim the massive popularity that reached its zenith in 1991. The band wouldn’t put out another live album until after the 1997 suicide of frontman Michael Hutchence. In 2014, the group released the audio component of its Wembley concert, which hit No. 17 on the Australian charts, a sign of the country’s continuing admiration of INXS.
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