Need You Tonight

Here is a song that has sort of always been around since I was in grade school, herpes but I never really listened to until tonight. Aside from the band’s image which certainly led to their popularity- there are some things sonically happening here that are greater than the chords and melodies which make up this song. This is a shining and well done example of what later became the “cliche 80’s” sound. Listen along to Inxs’ hit: Need You Tonight.

First off, great drum machine sounds, especially for the time period. They’re natural enough that you wouldn’t think they are a drum machine, but syncopated, panned and isolated in a way that you can only get from a machine. Something great here and a lesson you can take away is how the precise timing of the gated reverb serves as another rhythmic element. It’s about 1/16th note long on that snare, and because of the length of the decay of the snare drum itself the reverb falls into its own place in time. Also, there is a lot of space in the measure which allows the character of each drum sound to be recognized. The dynamics of the shaker just to the right and the hi-hat to the left are awesome. It almost forces you to dance.

Just before the guitar orchestra we have our lead VOX whisper into a hot mic so it sounds like he’s right on your ear.

Now, the guitar orchestra. Panned surprisingly close to center with a slap back and pitch modulated delay set to zero feedback we have our 1-2-3 stomp stomp stomp. The bass accentuates the 16th note part the guitar plays on top with just a 1-2-3 walk down. The 16th note hi guitar part is run through a delay with a longer feedback that really slams that part. It’s kind of jangly ringing out through the measure toward the deft channel.

The verse part has a really funky single note guitar part that dances around the tonic and gently auto pans between the left and right speaker about 12% on either side. The synth has a vox pad hit on the 4 of every other measure. Every other hit is just right or just left.

A cool arrangement aspect is that the vocal part and the synth trade measures- so the synth answers the vocal phrase with a simple single hit. One accentuates the other without overplaying.

The vocal is super close mic’d with a warm sounding but very short reverb. Makes a big space but intimate at the same time. The key vocal line “one of my kind” is doubled an octave up. Later as the vocal trades off itself asking a question low and then answering sung out: the low questioning part splits hard left and hard right (low and hi) while the sung out answer is full voiced down the middle. A cool effect that gives some dimension.

The bass part is doubled with a classic “Lately Bass” FM synth sound. It’s sort of chorusing and makes the bass guitar sound more electronic than it is.

Throughout the track there are some cool guitar strums in sort of random seeming places which are cool unto themselves.

All in all, this is some great use of gated reverb, simple drum machine pattern, live percussion, stratocaster guitar, full stereo panning automation and a KILLER arrangement. My words probably make it sound like a lot- but really it’s making little parts heard in their own space across time in the measure and across the stereo spectrum.

I learned a few neat tricks on this one, I hope you did too!

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