Val Kolton on "Need You Tonight/Mediate" by INXS
Val Kolton is the CEO and founder of the headphone and portable audio company V-MODA. As a DJ and producer, he has toured the globe playing among the top DJs and musicians as well as held the residency at Hollywood's most elite clubs. Here he picks a Song from his Soundtrack.
My musical brain is forever burned-in by the fond memories of the combination of my first CD player, CD, and favorite MTV music video. The "new sensation" combination of new technology, an innovative Australian rock sound composed of TWO different tracks, and music-video visuals, all blended together to sweep the 1988 MTV video awards winning 5 out of 9 nominations.
While other contributors to this column may dive into the nuances, instruments, composition and emotional details of one song, I opted to march to the BPM of a different drum and explore the first time I had a "audio-video-technology" trifecta nirvana that inspired me to learn instruments, dress differently, create music, and ultimately create products built upon these three elements:
First, lets talk about the technology as the core of my enlightenment. My first portable CD player was the same as I saw in the Sound & Vision office last year when I introduced the V-MODA VAMP headphone amplifier and M-100: the vintage Panasonic SL-S30 CD player. I had been fascinated years prior by my über-cool uncle Barry's CD player, but this device was the first I could afford at a flea market price as a pre-teen. The first CD I purchased myself was INXS Kick. I had to "borrow" the other CD I got because it was explicit and I was under 18. I would have given it back, but I believe the store is now a Honey Baked Ham.
My ability to take my music and hear it better than I had ever heard it before, in laser-powered 44.1kHz, was revolutionary and leap years into the future from my melancholy, messy, cassette and 8-track tape memories. It was a newfound audio freedom, governed on the audio audiobahn only by the weakest link, my yellow-cabled sport folding headphones that inspired me to later develop fashion headphones.
#2 Visual Fashion
While INXS may not go down in history as one of the consensus top 10 bands of the 80s, I truly believe the "Need You Tonight/Mediate" two-part song and video was innovative, trendsetting, yet Bob Dylan-copycat video that both defined the time and became timeless. INXS' image, founded upon the longhaired late lead singer, Michael Hutchence, was cut from the same cashmere of the alpha-male playboy rock-star Jim Morrison. Yet INXS had the opportunity that broke down new "Doors" by virtue of the convergence of fashion, visual art, and style empowered by the MTV music video. long before the dog days of reality TV.
#3 Audio Mix
Finally, lets talk about the two songs. To me, hearing two songs connected by a similar kick and snare was the first "DJ mix" I had ever heard, and it completely blew me away. "They are different and separate, yet they are one and take you on an emotional journey!" is what startled my 12-year old head. To this day, it is the only two-part music video that I know of. I watched it over and over, admiring how it went from a "song" to more of a "chant or rap." It was forever ingrained in my head that two songs could become more than the sum of its parts and create an all-new vibe. In my mind, it was the first "pop culture DJ mix" and "rock n roll" at the same time. Also, I had never been to a concert to see two tracks played back to back…
In art class, instead of forging a clay pot as instructed, I used the clay to handcraft a concert stadium and stage of a live INXS performance. I dreamt of the day I could see this "mix" of songs performed live! Sadly, Michael Hutchence, died at the age of 37 and all I could do was press play…"Fascinate, Deviate, Reinstate, and Liberate."