When INXS released its last studio album, "X," 16 months ago, the group's intention was to play stadiums in the United States by summer.
Coming off the mega-platinum success of 1988's "Kick" and its subsequent tour, those expectations did not seem the least bit ridiculous.
Instead, after "X" stopped short of reaching its goals and the second U.S. swing of the tour was scrapped, INXS announced the release of a live album from the tour to be released in time for Christmas.
However, the arrival of "Live Baby Live" (in stores now) seems more like the move of a desperate band than any calculated, boardroom decision to enhance its image.
For an INXS junkie, the 16-song montage covers the high points of the band's 12-year existence, but the quality of the work leaves much to be desired.
At its best, "Live Baby Live" sounds like the work of an amateur bootlegger who had the tape recorder under his jacket for the length of the show.
At its worst, it's not even worth listening to twice.
The dynamic presence of singer Michael Hutchence, who seven months ago proved why he is rock's hottest frontman in a show at the Capital Centre, is nowhere to be found.
Even the band's most passionate live songs -- the big brass of 'What You Need" and "Never Tear Us Apart," the lead guitar in "Guns in the Sky," the innuendo of "Need You Tonight" -- come up embarrassingly flat.
For those who have waited for the quintessential INXS album to add to their collection, this isn't it.
For those who loved the band's concert in the spring, this isn't the show we saw.
Instead of rushing out to buy "Live Baby Live," good advice would be to pull out your old copies of 'Shabooh Shabaah," "Listen Like Thieves," "Kick," and "The Swing" and enjoy.
There is plenty of good live music to be found around town this weekend.
Tonight, Paula Abdul will bring her dancing sneakers and a big production to the Capital Centre, with ultimately hot Color Me Badd opening the show. Tickets are $22.50.
Tomorrow at Shriver Hall (Johns Hopkins University), The Pixies and Pere Ubu team up for a fantastic alternative rock double bill.
The Pixies, whose lyrics used to cover ground from Mexico to space exploration, now settle in for straight poetry about old friends. The new album is called "Trompe Le Monde" (that's Trick The World in French). Tickets are $18.50.
Also tomorrow, Tommy Conwell and The Young Rumblers return to Hammerjacks with two new Rumblers.
Drummer Jim Hannum and bassist Paul Slivka are out. Keyboardist Rob Miller, who is also Conwell's main songwriting partner, is now on bass. Danny Beirne, formerly with Skip Castro's band, is the new keyboard player and Andy Kravitz, who played with Taj Mahal last year, is the new drummer. Of course, Baltimore's Billy Kemp is still playing the guitar.
More changes could be coming with their record company, Sony, which may allow them to move on. Tickets are $8.50.
Also at Hammerjacks on Saturday, Lita Ford and Tuff will appear.
Ford's latest album, "Dangerous Curves," hardly takes a new direction for the former Runaway. Just straight ahead rock 'n' roll once again.
Tuff, the opener, has a hot single on rock radio with "I Hate Kissing You Goodbye." Tickets are $5.
On Sunday at Hammerjacks, The Smithereens make their second local appearance of the month. The New Jersey quartet turned in a solid show at the Towson Center four weeks ago featuring songs from "Blow Up." Tickets are $10.