Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

April 20, 2012

Rock Star: A Night At The Mayan Theater (Music From The Hit Television Series) (live)

(Click on heading to visit official INXS website.)
Style: cover, live, hard rock, classic rock
Label: Burnett Records
Year: 2005
Home: n/a

Members: Jordis Unga, Daphna Dove, Dana Robbins, Tara Slone, Jessica Robinson, Heather Luttrell, Deanna Johnston, Suzie McNeil, Marty Casey, Ty Taylor, Neal Carlson, Brandon Calhoon, Wil Seabrook, J.D. Fortune, Mig Ayesa ~ lead vocals
Paul Mirkovich ~ keyboards/b. vocals
Rafael Moreira ~ lead guitar/b. vocals
Jim McCorman ~ guitar/keyboards/b. vocals
Sasha Krivtsov ~ bass
Nate Morton ~ drums

Additional: Robert Cani, Mario De Leon, Shanti Randall,
Rudy Stein ~ strings

Some musical projects stink of marketing. It's one thing to bring in a guest artist to boost an album, particularly for an unknown band, but it's another when the band doesn't need a boost & is obviously cashing in on what embers are left in its candle holder before its too late ... it's still another thing when the project revolves around a band whose absent from the product for sale. Regardless of the details it can be painful to watch ... even after you've given up on figuring out if it's more about the music or the media. In May 2005 an audience at the Mayan Theatre was treated to fifteen young vocalists, with an anonymous session band, giving their best interpretations to an array of popular songs young & old. But, this is was more than a talent show, however much it appeared as one, but initiated a new tv series with the goal of finding a new singer for Aussie hitmakers INXS. Yes, one of these young singers would take the frontman role for the band that had tragically lost its sexy & seemingly irreplaceable frontman Michael Hutchence in an accidental suicide in 1997. We've had rock bands formed around tv shows (for example, Rock Star Supernova) & for tv shows (for example, the Monkees) & because of tv shows (for example, the Archies), but how many already chart topping bands have found a singer through a tv talent contest? This might be a first. No, this isn't a documentary of finding a new band member like Metallica did, but is just American Idol with a bigger award. I can only hope it'll be the last as there's nothing more embarressing, as what comes across is not a search for the best fit but a marketing scheme to get back on tv after years away ... or at least rescue a band's career before it's too late ... not to mention the auditioners themselves with their own eyes on a successful music career, with or without INXS. I'd rather watch the mismatched Paul Rodgers + Queen ... at least that was organic ... let alone everyone involved has similiar backgrounds & was in the same age bracket. This live album shares the initial introductory concert to kick off the show. There's no original songs ... a bit odd, considering one expects they'll be asked to write in the band, or maybe its not so odd, but originals mean you see the creativity behind the flash. A great performer doesn't necessarily mean a great writer. Ever heard Elton John's lyrics? Though, what covers are included might be the best thing about the album. It includes a range that goes classic from the Who, Kinks, Blondie to modern with Living Colour, Nirvana, Black Crows. Its nothing particularly obscure, nothing that most folks in the audience won't know who know something about music. Speaking of great performers ... the live setting really is the only way to judge. It lets them pour it all out ... maybe to their detriment as it also can show their rough spots. Really, that's what this show is all about. That's what any of these tv talent shows are about. You as much look forward to the good as the bad moments. But, its also a reminder in this case that no one can replace Michael Hutchence. Not just did he have a decade in little clubs hacking it out that none of these singers have, but his sexy Jim Morrison-esque looks & wiry almost drugged out performance really was the secret to INXS. Honestly, without him they're just another little new wave band. Their early albums are witness to how much they ended up molding themselves around Hutchence charisma. Further, there's no guitar player out front and most people won't know one member from another. It's like asking folks about the rhythm section of AC/DC or trying to pick out one guy in Devo from the next. But, that doesn't matter in this context as INXS are nowhere to be seen. On the show they criticize each performer, but here its just the songs without the banter. It's ashame. That would be fascinating to watch & really shake things up. The house band is a straight ahead rock band with nothing in common with any era of INXS's music, past or potentially present ... unless INXS is planning to reinvent themselves a straight edge rock band. Thus, it seems to make trying to find a new singer even more difficult as here they're in a rock context when in INXS they'll be in something far different. It's like auditioning for a rock band with a reggae band. What's the point? The point is TV entertainment. It doesn't help that in complete opposition to INXS's distinction the house band is a soulless tribe of studio musicians doing Cliff Notes versions of the songs. One can be excused for not wanting any INXS songs in the mix this early in the run. As for the guinea pigs themselves it's not the most painful experiment. Adam Lambert with Queen is far worse. Adam Lambert thinking he has a career of any value is far worse. Most of the singers are either indistinguishable or you can hear that they might be good given different music choices or styles. What they bring to the table may not be what is best for INXS. The girls might be the most difficult to enjoy as anything more than a passing moment of good music as can we truly envisage INXS as a female fronted band? Actually, its a rare band that moves from a male to a female singer. L.A. Guns is the only one that comes to mind & that was all too brief. Bands that make such a change usually do so before they hit chart success & thus nobody notices. Arch Enemy is a case in point. But, at this point in ones career it's too much of a vocal contrast. It's more of a jump than Genesis moving from Peter Gabriel to Phil Collins to the under-rated but completely different Ray Wilson. The sad fact is that J.D. Fortune got the role as he sounds the closest to Hutchence but we all know the result. He did a lackluster album & tour, then was essentially dumped for the band to do what is basically a tribute album to themselves, though their most experimental release, bringing in different singers & musical sytles including Fortune for a Hutchence sound-alike track. Fortune returned for the tour but was dumped again. There might be a third dump but at this point most had lost count. But, looking at the bigger picture this shouldn't be a suprise. After Hutchence death in 1997 INXS returned in 2000 with Jon Stevens before he left for a solo career in 2003. The next year Rock Star:INXS was created. Two singers with no success? Hint? No, in 2011 the band announced Irishman Ciaran Gribbon as the newest member. The song released is about as far from the traditional INXS sound as one can get. Sometimes its time to give up. It's time for INXS to do so. A band is more than just who can sing but the clicking of bandmates. This is about the clicking of cameras. After developing the photos in this latest batch they really haven't come out that well ... & photoshop hasn't helped. Maybe there's a way INXS could be successful again with a new singer. Journey has done it & Yes have had some modest success, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has made an art out of it, the Doors reunion with Ian Astbury was amazing before he left & the band changed to the Manzarek Kreiger Band cause they knew the gig was up ... maybe Gribbon will be the winning ticket. It's just too bad the band had to embarress themselves in the meantime. At least they didn't choose a new singer who was a suicide blonde.

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