Book Review: Shine Like It Does is a sparkly new biography about Michael Hutchence & INXS

This year marks the 20th anniversary since the death of the legendary, Michael Hutchence. In this time, a lot of books and articles have been published about this enigmatic man. A new biography, Shine Like It Does, from journalist Toby Creswell, may not be the most necessary title, but his book is an intriguing one; with Creswell managing to find the right balance between telling the truth and mere hagiography.

Creswell is no stranger to the world of music journalism. He founded Rolling Stone Australia and has written and co-authored eleven non-fiction books on music and history. Shine Like It Does is not the most comprehensive volume, but it is one that is well-researched and Creswell writes great prose. Creswell quotes from numerous sources and his own interviews, as well as offering his personal observations, anecdotes and findings about Hutchence. Creswell also does a fabulous job of putting things into the appropriate context, which makes this all very easy and enjoyable for the reader.

Michael Kelland John Hutchence was the son of an Australian businessman and a make-up artist. Part of his childhood was spent living abroad in Hong Kong before his parents divorced and he settled with his father and younger brother in suburban Sydney. When he was at high school he would meet a young Andrew Farriss and the pair would go on to form a formidable song-writing team.

This biography charts the incredible rise of the band originally known as the Farriss Brothers, to the “new sensation”, and eventually to the globe-trotting rock band named INXS. Creswell offers up commentary about the group and their manager, Chris Murphy, as well as the process they carried out in creating their hit singles and albums. This story is one filled with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and Creswell tells this frankly and avoids the muck-racking and damaging rumours that were dredged up by the tabloid press, and began when Hutchence became a bona fide rock star.

This book is mostly chronological, and seems to capture Hutchence’s multi-faceted personality. There was his hedonistic partying side, as well as his desire to have a family with Paula Yates. There is Hutchence’s accomplished lyricism versus his insecurities about himself and his craft. Hutchence seems like a true mystery and chameleon, but Creswell does a stellar job of capturing at least part of what you feel is Hutchence’s true essence.

Shine Like It Does is a great introduction to Michael Hutchence and the wild world of INXS. The diehard fans may already be acquainted with some of these stories but this is still an enjoyable and respectful read about one great artist. There are lots of Michael Hutchence biographies out there and Shine Like It Does may not be what the world needs, but it certainly should sate those hungry for another look at the INXS saga.

Shine Like It Does is available November 1st through Echo Publishing