The period between the untimely death of Inxs' Michael Hutchence (in late 1997) and the addition of J.D. Fortune as Inxs' new lead vocalist (in late 2005) put Inxs into a "holding pattern". While Inxs flirted with several vocalists to temporarily provide lead vocals (Jimmy Barnes, Terence Trent D'Arby, and Jon Stevens), for all practical purposes there was little in the way of new material being released from the band and there were certainly no albums. However Inxs did not disband, so as a result relied on compilation albums to keep the momentum going. There were three compilation albums that were released during this time, 2001's anthology-styled "Shine Like It Does", 2002's traditional greatest hits collection, "The Best of Inxs", and 2004's "Original Sin: The Collection". Of these three compilations, "Original Sin" doesn't follow the rulebook for compilation albums and results in something that is very different than most compilation albums by any band..
One fact that I find amazing about Inxs is that this six-member band stuck together from their formation in the late 1970s through Michael Hutchence's untimely death in 1997. During this period, the band would release 10 studio albums, 1 Greatest Hits album, and 1 Live album. This has allowed the band to meld together and grow professionally. Much of this is due to the fact that three band members are brothers: Andrew Farriss (Keyboards), Jon Farriss (Drums), and Tim Farriss (Guitar). The other three members also stuck tightly with the band the whole way. These members include: Michael Hutchence (Lead Vocals), Garry Gary Beers (Bass), and Kirk Pengilly (Guitar and Sax). Hutchence - known for his long hair and theatrical performances in concert often gets the most publicity. But the remaining five members all make major contributions from a musicianship standpoint. In addition, Hutchence is not just eye candy - he plays a key role in the songwriting.
I think Inxs' musical style can be considered an offshoot of the punk and new-wave movements of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Early in their careers, they definitely fit in with the synth-pop movement of the early 1980s. By the time 1987's "Kick" was released, the band began to incorporate some more traditional funk and rock sounds into their portfolio - particularly with the use of guitars. This corresponded very nicely to the 80s music landscape transitioning from synth-pop to more guitar laden sounds. However on all of its releases the band always stuck true to their roots throughout this 15-year period.
"Original Sin" is unique for one reason; it wasn't intended to be a greatest hits album. As the liner notes indicate, it is intended to be a "sampler" from Inxs' first six albums. This covers material from the hard-to-find self-titled debut album ("Inxs") through their peak album, 1987's "Kick". There are three songs included from each of the six albums, so each album is equally represented. The nice thing is the rulebook was thrown out. Many of the songs picked are not the first songs that come to mind, although there are some fan favorites like "Original Sin", "Devil Inside", "Listen Like Thieves", and "Don't Change". These songs may be known to the longtime fan, but represent something new to a newbie Inxs fan.
The six albums include:
"Inxs": "Just Keep Walking"; "In Vain"; "Learn to Smile"
"Underneath the Colours": "Underneath the Colours"; "Horizons"; "Barbarian"
"Shabooh Shoobah": "Don't Change"; "Spy of Love"; "Here Comes"
"The Swing": "Original Sin"; "Melting in the Sun"; "Johnson's Aeroplane"
"Listen Like Thieves": "Listen Like Thieves"; "Same Direction"; "Biting Bullets"
"Kick": "Devil Inside"; "Wild Life"; "Calling All Nations"
Do they get it right with the sampled songs? They don't - there are plenty of "hidden gems" that are not included - such as "Golden Playpen" (from Shabooh Shoobah)"; "Dancing on the Jetty" and "Love Is (What I Say)" from "The Swing"; and "Tiny Daggers" from "Kick". However this collection does include a plenty of other hidden gems that many fans may not realize. The nice thing is that there is material from the first two Inxs albums ("Inxs" and "Underneath the Colours"). While the "Shine Like It Does" anthology is the most comprehensive Inxs compilation out there, it also comes up extremely short from the material from these first two albums. This is the best place to find material pre-"Shabooh Shoobah" with the exception of getting the physical albums themselves. Fans who haven't heard songs like "Just Keep Walking", "In Vain", "Horizons", "Here Comes", "Melting in the Sun", and "Same Direction" are going to be pleasantly surprised of the depth of the body of work produced by Inxs.
The nice thing is that this collection does "sample" these tracks in chronological order from which they were released. This makes things nice because you can hear the transformation from Inxs' punk and new-wave to a more mainstream rock sound.
As mentioned this collection only covers material through Inxs' 1987 "Kick" album. In 2006 Inxs would release the sequel to "Original Sin" entitled "Taste It: The Collection". "Taste It" picks right up where "Original Sin" left off and also "samples" the remaining Hutchence-era material from "X" to "Elegantly Wasted" - including material from "The Greatest Hits" (an early 1994 compilation that also had some original songs) and "Live Baby Live". Together, these two will make interesting additions to any fans collection.
The liner notes contain a discography and a short-write-up on the music of Inxs and information about the "Original Sin" compilation. The only real issue is that this material may not appeal to longtime Inxs fans. The deep Inxs fan will have this material already and might second-guess some of the songs that were "sampled" for this collection. Still this isn't your ordinary collection and as an owner of many Inxs albums, I still felt compelled to have this in my collection. One can't argue with the quality of the end product. This collection is definitely worth checking out.