The oft-delayed posthumous solo debut from INXS singer Michael Hutchence
is slated to feature experimental songs, a few of which offer a window into the troubled star's life via haunting
lyrics, according to a source close to the project.
"Some of these songs mix what he was doing with INXS, the good things of that, and the more [experimental] things he wanted to do," said the source, who requested anonymity. "It's poppy and funky, but still very cool."
Currently untitled, the album is tentatively scheduled for release on V2 Records in September, according to label spokesperson Roberta Moore.
The songs expected to make the album include "She Flirts For England," which, the source said, is dedicated to Paula Yates -- Hutchence's girlfriend and the mother of his child. Also expected are the tracks "Don't Save Me From Myself," "Slide Away" and "Neo-Junkie Philanderer," the latter dealing lightheartedly with the late Hutchence's well-deserved reputation as a globe-trotting rock star.
Hutchence was found hanging from a leather belt in his Sydney, Australia, hotel room Nov. 22, 1997.
"Breathe," which was written only days before the 37-year-old singer's suicide, also may make the album. In keeping with the oddly prescient titles "Don't Save Me From Myself" and "Slide Away," "Breathe" has a haunting chorus wherein the frontman repeatedly intones "keep breathing."
Among the producers who collaborated on the record are ex-Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill and ex-Black Grape member Danny Saber. Bomb the Bass' Tim Simenon also worked on early demos with Hutchence in 1995.
Although Saber has kept mum about his sessions with Hutchence in Los Angeles prior to the singer's death, Gill spoke last year about his own sporadic year-and-a-half of recording with the INXS singer in 1995 and '96. Gill said he recorded "Get on the Inside" and "A Straight Line" with Hutchence.
Over a 20-year career, Hutchence's matinee-idol good looks and sensual vocals propelled the Australian dance-pop rockers INXS to multiplatinum success with such songs as "Never Tear Us Apart" (RealAudio excerpt) and
"Suicide Blonde" (RealAudio excerpt).
Both Gill and longtime manager Martha Troup described several of the songs recorded for the album as highly autobiographical. They deal with Hutchence's frustration with and confusion about an ongoing struggle with former Boomtown Rats leader Sir Bob Geldof over custody of three children Geldof fathered by Yates.
"It was the one thing that really got him down," Gill said about Hutchence's struggles with Geldof. On the night before Hutchence died, he is believed to have argued with Geldof. The subject was reportedly Geldof's last-minute decision not to allow the three children to spend Christmas vacation in Australia with Hutchence and Yates.
"He would go on about it, and ... it seemed like he felt Geldof still
treated Paula as his property, and [Geldof] was going to great lengths
to make it difficult for Michael and Paula to have any life and happiness
together," Gill said.
Known for his signature walls of post-punk distortion with the Gang of Four, Gill described the music he recorded with Hutchence as "a bit darker than INXS, sort of like an interesting mix of grainy, gritty, almost industrial things with almost symphonic, orchestral sounds."
Australian journalist Vincent Lovegrove has written an unofficial biography of Hutchence entitled "Michael Hutchence: A Tragic Rock & Roll Story," in which he delves into what he claims is the mystery surrounding the singer's death and the previously untold story of Hutchence's personal struggles. In addition to documenting Hutchence's high-flying life in vivid detail, Lovegrove said he intended to present a version of the events that led to Hutchence's death.
"It is an emotional stretch into his life to try and understand how a man, seemingly with so much, should die in such a lonely and premature fashion," Lovegrove said. "I tried to find out about the man, not the myth, not the legend."
Lovegrove depicts the squabbles among Yates, Hutchence and Geldof as a "tragic mess of gigantic proportions," which, he said, Hutchence should not have had to endure. He also calls into question the definitive assessment by the Rose Bay, Australia, coroner's office that Hutchence's death was a suicide. Lovegrove suggested the oft-mentioned possibility that Hutchence was engaged in an act of auto-erotic asphyxiation is not out of the question. Auto-erotic asphyxiation is a sexual practice in which a person cuts off oxygen to the brain while reaching orgasm through masturbation.
One of the more startling revelations in Lovegrove's book is that an accident may have contributed to the singer's allegedly depressed state. Lovegrove says that Hutchence suffered a head injury in Copenhagen, Denmark, several years prior to his suicide, and that it led to a loss of his sense of smell and taste, which, in turn, led to his use of antidepressants.
"It is without doubt a pivotal point in Michael's life," Lovegrove said. "There's no doubt it was a key factor in Michael's emotional and self-confidence dive into darkness."
The solo album was originally slated for release in 1998 but was held up because of a battle for the control of Hutchence's estate, Troup said last summer. Hutchence released occasional solo songs during his lifetime, including "Rooms for the Memory," from the Dogs in Space soundtrack, and "The Passenger" from the film "Batman Forever," but he never released a solo album.
"I am extremely happy that Michael's solo album finally will be released," Troup said in a V2 press release earlier this year. "The album meant a great deal to him, and I personally see it as a looking glass into Michael's soul."
(Contributing Editor Jeff Apter contributed to this report.)