The 1997 death of INXS singer Michael Hutchence casts an unfortunately bittersweet shadow on this fine collection of the Australian band's best work.

The 1997 death of INXS singer Michael Hutchence casts an unfortunately bittersweet shadow on this fine collection of the Australian band's best work. The singer's tragic end—authorities ruled that he committed suicide by hanging himself—seems like such a contradiction to his band's often uplifting, animated hits. Each of which are gathered here, including "Shine Like It Does," "New Sensation," and "Heaven Sent." With this wonderfully produced and packaged collection, Atlantic/Rhino reminds us of the joy Hutchence and his bandmates—Andrew Farriss, Tim Farriss, Jon Farriss, Garry Gary Beers, and Kirk Pengilly—brought to audiences around the globe. It's also a firm reminder of just how much we lost when Hutchence passed. The set's 62-page booklet includes color photos spanning the band's career. David Fricke's liner notes include new interviews with the band, during which each member poignantly reflects on Hutchence's death. Andrew Farriss recalls the last time he saw his songwriting partner alive: "He was smiling at me as he walked out the door. That is one of the many blessings God has given me in this life." Some, especially the band's fans in the U.S. (where INXS had far fewer hit singles than in its home country), may wonder if there's much need for this 42-song, double-disc anthology, especially considering that Atlantic issued the single-disc The Greatest Hits in 1994. With this set, though, fans get a better understanding of INXS' evolution. More important, they get many more nuggets from the group's 12 studio albums and single live set, plus such tracks as the irresistible "Good Times" (from the 1985 movie The Lost Boys), which finds the band joined by Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes. Without question, this is the essential INXS release.—WO

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