Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Twelve Tasks Of ToffeeBoy #7 - Crowded House

Welcome to the seventh Task of ToffeeBoy. This one was actually due in July but since I’m going to be away for the rest of August, I thought I’d better get it in now. I probably won’t be able to respond to comments until long after everyone’s stopped reading this thread but there probably won’t be too many anyway – apart from the usual accusations of MOR/cheese which are levelled at most of the music which is dear to my heart [sound of sarcastic violins playing in ‘Spill houses all around the world].

This month (or rather last month) I give you the works of Crowded House - or rather, the early works of Crowded House, because after the fourth album, I lost interest. Not that the fourth album isn’t good, just that, for one reason or another, I didn’t continue to follow their career. Who knows why? Apparently there are another four albums, about which I know nothing. Perhaps someone else can inform the class?

Crowded House were founded [I didn’t know they were losted. Ed.] in Australia by the New Zealander, Neil Finn, whose older brother (and occasional collaborator in Crowded House) Tim, had formerly fronted the poptastic Split Enz (of I Got You fame). Crowded House went on to produce a string of genius-like pop songs, a small selection of which, I now present for your delectation.

A new feature I wish I’d hough of back in January. Crowded House in a single sentence: ‘A more poppy, less angular version of The Go-Betweens’.

If you buy just one Crowded House album, let it be Woodface.

Don't Dream It's Over
Fall At Your Feet
Pineapple Head
She Goes On
Sister Madly
World Where You Live
I Feel Possessed
Together Alone

Linkety links
Offical site


Dangerpuss said...

Lovely topic. One of my favourite ever bands. I saw them live several times in Australia. They do a really good gig and were quite funny too, especially Paul Hester who allegedly once wheeled a tea trolley on stage starkers. I saw him do the same thing but with clothes on and still very whimsical and slapstick. Sadly, he's no longer with us.

Neil Finn once said he'd always wanted to be a Beatle and there's a lot of very Beatlish moments in his writing. One of my favourite things about his writing is his gift for wordplay. He's a master wordsmith and does quite beautiful things with melody.

I liked Nick Seymour's artwork a lot. Another Aussie band that had artists with extra talents in them were Mental As Anything. Reg Mombassa is a prolific painter and did surreal tshirt designs for Mambo (the "Abattoirs of Taste").

I love the way the Finn brothers harmonize.

It's a tough choice between Woodface and Temple of Low Men. I'd say get both!

I'd like to add your lovely list :

Four Seasons In One Day
All I Ask
Catherine Wheel
Hole In the River

Neil's son Liam is a successful muso now and does VERY different music from his dad.

Cheers, Caitlin

ToffeeBoy said...

Thanks Caitlinpuss! Now this is the sort of feedback I've been hoping for throughout the series - and almost universally failing to elicit.

I saw them live a few times - they were very good and highly entertaining.

Dangerpuss said...

You're welcome. I even managed to get through the whole post without a typo. I've shocked myself.

On a slight tangent, a Split Enz song that I really like and that inexplicably popped into my head this week is Ghost Girl. Tempting me to get all their albums all over again. Sublime.

nilpferd said...

Probably quite unfair that I never really got into them, but they were just too smooth compared to the Flying Nun bands. I never considered them comparable to the Go-betweens, though- more like the Wet Wet Wet style of thoughtful pop. I'd agree that the Finn brothers harmonies are nice, but I tend to find the songs annoying after a couple of listens. Doubtless NZ commercial radio is largely responsible for for this, they had a tendency to absolutely flog the hits of the day. Liam has done more edgy stuff, quite like some of it.

TracyK said...

I'm another fan Toffee, though not the extent that Caitlin obviously is! Woodface was my going-to-sleep music for about a year. I don't want to suggest that it's soporific, but it's such a lovely album, so rich and lush sounding that it's very easy to lose yourself in it.Quite sensual too, if you really listen. I do think they are unfairly lumbered with an easy-listening rep, but Neil Finn's lyrics do lift them above that.

My friend saw Liam Finn support Ben Folds recently and said he was really extraordinary, I'll keep a look out.Thanks for this though Toffee, a lovely trip down memory lane for me, this.

GarethI said...

One of my favourite gigs was seeing Crowded House at Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 1992, when they were touring with Woodface and had Voice of the Beehive as support. The only songs I'd heard were the Woodface singles and, of course, Don't Dream It's Over, but it was hugely enjoyable. That was the night I first realised that you didn't have to know the album to enjoy the gig.
If I could only have one album though, I think it would be Together Alone. It's got a bit more edge to it.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ Caitlinpuss - I really must check out more Split Enz ...

@ nilpferd - I didn't really expect you to be a fan but I knew that, being a Kiwi, you'd have an opinion. I think it's the lyrics that take them beyond the realm of Wet Wet Wet and their ilk - which is true of so much of the music that I like.

@ TracyK - glad you approve. As for Going To Sleep Music, much as I have no wish to hijack my own thread, now there's a great theme for a post. My current favourite is Azure Ray's eponymous first album - which is truly beautiful and genuinely is soporific. Although somewhat ironically, the opening track is called I Can't Sleep ...

@ GarethI - they really did punch above their weight in their live shows, didn't they?

ToffeeBoy said...

@ ejaydee - if you're reading this, enjoy the moment!

And just to let you all know, my absence from these parts for the next few weeks does not mean that I've decided to end it all ...

Mnemonic said...

It may surprise you to learn that I am also a fan of Crowded House. Perfect pop music! I already have Woodface; what should I get next?

ToffeeBoy said...

@ Mnemonic - no, not surprised really. I find it difficult to believe that anyone wouldn't like Crowded House. As for another album, I think that either Temple Of Low Men or Together Alone would please.

Abahachi said...

Am I going to get ostracised for saying that my favourite Crowded House song is Weather With You - though that may be partly because I like the line about Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire? Nice songs; never felt any inclination to buy any records, but always a pleasure to hear on the radio.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ Abahachi - why we I (we?) do that? Weather With You is a lovely song - I could just as easily have included it on my list as Fall At Your Feet or She Goes On almost have included the whole of Woodface.

I love the line in She Goes On where he says "I owe it all to Frank Sinatra, his song was playing as she walked into the room." Beautiful ...

ToffeeBoy said...

For God's sake - why can't I get anything right?????

Why would I (we?) do that?

I really need this holiday ...

ejaydee said...

I did enjoy it, but only after the fact, as I was playing real football at the same time as my heroes, after seeing the first 2. Unfortunately, I haven't completely figutred out this Fantasy Football thing, so I don't think I'll reap the imaginary benefits of this outrageous result.

barbryn said...

I'm a fan - at their best, just effortlessly brilliant pop songs: Don't Dream It's Over, Fall At Your Feet, Four Seasons, Distant Sun, Better Be Home Soon... all up there with on-form Paul McCartney. Their rockier stuff does less for me though.

Dangerpuss said...

Together Alone is a gorgeous album. That's where Catherine Wheels comes from. Also Pineapple Head which is pretty good. And there's some lovely Maori drumming too.

AliMunday said...

Strangely enough, I did buy just one Crowded House album, and it is Woodface. I love "She Goes On".

gremlinfc said...

Strangely enough I
like Crowded House - a couple of their songs were on the Gremlinfc's wedding tape (me & mrsgremlinfc put together 3 hours of tunes for our reception so doing away with DJ and had them on shuffle!) so they are quite special to me /us.
Now I especially love the way Murray , Flight of the Conchords' Kiwi manager, regularly phones up Neil Finn to harass him and try and befriend him - class.

treefrogdemon said...

I didn't think I'd heard any Crowded House, but found I recognised Don't Dream It's Over - was it a hit? I'm afraid I only liked She Goes On, TB - found the rest without anything I'd really want to listen to again.

Tim Finn wrote the lyrics to one of my favourite RT songs, Persuasion...unfortunately he wrote 'everybody' where 'everyone' would have scanned properly, and it annoys me every time!

barbryn said...

Funny coincidence... "Persuasion" shuffled up on my mp3 player last night. I have various bits of Richard Thomson on there, but that was the first time I'd heard that song. I thought it would make a brilliant candidate for an unlikely cover version - I could see it being a massive hit for somebody very mainstream. Like Take That, for example. Or Adele, with a bit of gender reversal.

treefrogdemon said...

I'm sure if the film it's from (Sweet Talker) hadn't nosedived, it would've been a big hit already.

Japanther said...

nobody likes indie boy Ben Folds, but everyone likes Crowded House, what a mixed up, topsy-turvy world we live in!!

I don't mind a bit of CH myself, i'm with the Abahachi school in that if it comes on the radio i'll have a singalong and found all of these tracks a pleasant listen, not sure i'd rush out to buy it, but would probably be tempted if I saw a couple for a coupla hundred yen!