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INXS - SWITCH - SONY/BMG
Record Rating: ***

Inxs - Switch - Sony/BMG It's a little hard to believe that this Australian sextet really rivaled U2 for popularity in the late Ď80s, as they were a quintessential rock band of the '80s, thrillingly balancing style with substance. With #1 hits like Need You Tonight and Never Tear Us Apart, and solid radio staples like Disappear, front man Michael Hutchence was hailed in some quarters as the heir to Jagger's throne.

For all intents and purposes, the suicide of lead singer Hutchence in 1997 ended the band's career. In 2005 when the five surviving members of the band announced they'd select a new lead singer on a reality TV show, fans were skeptical and in most cases outraged. Switch is the bandís first full-fledged release in close to a decade, with the winner of that show J.D. Fortune, a former Elvis impersonator from Canada, filling in for lead vocals.

If youíre asking why they released this, itís obvious that this album was a chance to say hey to the old fans and get new ones. And, despite the odds, it's not bad at all. Keyboard guitarist Andrew Farriss who was responsible for writing the music for most of the band's best-known material, reprises that role here, with the band attempting to re-establish themselves.

Viewers of the show will be familiar with some of the eleven tracks here like Pretty Vegas and Us, and the boys tread into familiar waters on tracks like Like It Or Not and Afterglow, trying to emulate their latter day hit Beautiful Girl. The honest opinion: Hutchence was and always will be the focal point of the band and without his warm soulful vocals and more importantly rock star charisma, there really isnít much point for the band to continue. Switch is a good effort, but pales in comparison to the early INXS. If you watched the show, you might want to get this.

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