Crowded House – Recurring Dream: The Very Best Of

Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded HouseThis bittersweet final album from the band that was the genesis of my fascination with Split Enz and the Finn Brothers is quite a collection; almost exactly like the Alan Parsons live album, I only got this one on the virtue of its three new tracks (don’t you hate it when they do that, and you’ve got to buy those other sixteen songs you’ve already heard…oh, never mind…), but I thought I’d comment on the selection of past tracks as well as the new songs. The three new tunes, “Not The Girl You Think You Are”, “Instinct” and “Everything Is Good For You”, are excellent, if somewhat atypical of the signature sound of Crowded House that fills out the rest of the album. They sound very much like they came from the Finn Brothers sessions, and a glance at the liner notes revealed that they were recorded in the same studio. All three also have a distinctly Beatlesque sound, especially “Not The Girl You Think You Are”. But that is by no means a fault – they’re still nifty new tunes. The remainder of the album has one of the best lineups of material I have ever seen on a compilation – truly the best of, including the singles “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, “Something So Strong” and “Better Be Home Soon” as well as the mesmerizing “Weather With You”, one of my favorites from 1991’s Woodface. Other personal faves of mine here are rating: 4 out of 4“Into Temptation”, “Fall At Your Feet”, and “Pineapple Head”. Highly recommended for those not familiar with the band or without the complete collection. Of the new songs I have to peg “Not The Girl You Think You Are” for its very unusual combination of elements that sound equally like Crowded House and Fab Four.

Order this CD

  1. Weather With You (3:45)
  2. World Where You Live (3:06)
  3. Fall At Your Feet (3:18)
  4. Locked Out (3:19)
  5. Don’t Dream It’s Over (3:55)
  6. Into Temptation (4:35)
  7. Pineapple Head (3:28)
  8. When You Come (4:44)
  9. Private Universe (5:36)
  10. Not The Girl You Think You Are (4:09)
  11. Instinct (3:08)
  12. I Feel Possessed (3:48)
  13. Four Seasons In One Day (2:49)
  14. It’s Only Natural (3:32)
  15. Distant Sun (3:51)
  16. Something So Strong (2:52)
  17. Mean To Me (3:15)
  18. Better Be Home Soon (3:10)
  19. Everything Is Good For You (3:57)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 70:19

Crowded House

Crowded HouseThe debut album from Neil Finn’s very own post-Split Enz trio was quite a surprise in the synthesizer/drum machine-dominated mid-1980s. Instead of veering to the opposite extreme – thundering hard rock – Crowded House embraced a unique sound of only a few instruments and Finn’s trademark vocals. The biggest hit Crowded House ever had, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, comes from this album, as do its moderately successful follow-ups, “Something So Strong” and “World Where You Live”, a somewhat less well-known number. Other tracks to listen for are “Hole In The River”, a harsh song inspired by the suicide of Finn’s aunt (this could also be the basis of the later song “Catherine Wheels” from the band’s fourth album), “Mean To Me”, which Neil wrote after a particularly amusing incident with a rabid American fan who crossed the globe to see him, and “I Walk Away”, a cover of a song that originally appeared on the final rating: 3 out of 4Split Enz studio album only a year earlier. CDs of the Crowded House album also contain a bonus track, “Can’t Carry On”, which is obviously a remnant of those final Split Enz sessions, as it sounds almost nothing like Crowded House. A very good album, though Temple Of Low Men may be a better introduction to Crowded House.

Order this CD

  1. Mean To Me (3:16)
  2. World Where You Live (3:04)
  3. Now We’re Getting Somewhere (4:06)
  4. Don’t Dream It’s Over (3:57)
  5. Love You ‘Til The Day I Die (3:32)
  6. Something So Strong (2:52)
  7. Hole In The River (4:00)
  8. Can’t Carry On (3:57)
  9. I Walk Away (3:07)
  10. Tombstone (3:30)
  11. That’s What I Call Love (3:39)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1986
Total running time: 39:00

Crowded House – Woodface

Crowded House - WoodfaceThere really aren’t enough words with which to praise this band’s third album. It was really the best of all possible worlds – Tim and Neil Finn, formerly the front men of Split Enz, united again and lavishing their quirky one-of-a-kind vocal harmonies on a number of marvelously concocted (and some decidedly strange) songs. There’s little about this album not to like. Specific cuts to listen to: “Weather With You”, “Whispers and Moans”, “She Goes On”, “As Sure As I Am”, and my favorites, “Fall At Your Feet” and the Tim-tries-to-be-Sinatra tune with the orchestral backing, “All I Ask”. Quite simply a solid and highly enjoyable rating: 4 out of 4collection, and one of my favorite albums of all time! Sadly, Tim and Neil had a falling-out during the tour for this album, and did not collaborate again until 1995, after Crowded House broke up. This is unfortunate, because the two Finn brothers harmonizing tend to out-Everly the Everly Brothers, and then some.

Order this CD

  1. Chocolate Cake (4:02)
  2. It’s Only Natural (3:32)
  3. Fall At Your Feet (3:19)
  4. Tall Trees (2:20)
  5. Weather With You (3:44)
  6. Whispers and Moans (3:40)
  7. Four Seasons In One Day (2:50)
  8. There Goes God (3:50)
  9. Fame Is (2:23)
  10. All I Ask (3:56)
  11. As Sure As I Am (2:54)
  12. Italian Plastic (3:40)
  13. She Goes On (3:15)
  14. How Will You Go / We’re Still Here (4:46)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1991
Total running time: 48:11

Crowded House – Temple Of Low Men

Crowded House - Temple Of Low MenFar surpassing their debut album, this collection went on to be something of an odd failure sales-wise in the States. Most probably remember it as being the album that spawned “Better Be Home Soon”, a bittersweet ballad very much in the style of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (with a very similar video to match). In actuality – at least from my own perspective – this album was far better, with some wonderfully intricate guitar and vocal work courtesy of Neil Finn. The songs tend to lean in the direction of very sparse, haunting atmosphere that listeners of Together Alone may be a little more familiar with. Highly rating: 3 out of 4recommended: “Into Temptation”, a nearly-sinister ballad with a small string section, “Love This Life”, somewhat similar to the former, “Never Be The Same” and “In The Lowlands”.

  1. I Feel Possessed (3:48)
  2. Kill Eye (3:14)
  3. Into Temptation (4:34)
  4. Order this CD Mansion in the Slums (3:45)
  5. When You Come (4:46)
  6. Never Be The Same (4:29)
  7. Love This Life (3:36)
  8. Sister Madly (2:53)
  9. In The Lowlands (3:58)
  10. Better Be Home Soon (3:07)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1988
Total running time: 38:10

Crowded House – Together Alone

Crowded House - Together AloneI’ve been singing the praises of this one since November 1993 – don’t miss this one! This one resembles the group’s debut album more than either of the previous two. The rocky sound of the first album can be heard very clearly, and track 4 “Black & White Boy” is the hardest rocking Crowded House tune to date, beating out even “Love You ‘Til The Day I Die” or even any live covers of Split Enz’s History Never Repeats. Neil Finn hasn’t lost his flair for ballads, though – some of the very best are on here: “Nails In My Feet” continues CH’s knack of having just a handful of instruments playing, yet still sounding absolutely majestic, and “Catherine Wheels” – a song which would seem to concern itself rating: 4 out of 4with spousal abuse – is haunting as well. The title track is also very interesting, with native percussion and a huge mixed choir singing in Maori. Neil’s brother Tim, who left soon after Woodface‘s release, is barely seen or heard from on this album, replaced by longtime CH road musician Mark Hart.

Order this CD

  1. Kare Kare (3:35)
  2. In My Command (3:43)
  3. Nails In My Feet (3:39)
  4. Black and White Boy (4:01)
  5. Fingers of Love (4:26)
  6. Pineapple Head (3:28)
  7. Locked Out (3:18)
  8. Private Universe (5:38)
  9. Walking On The Spot (2:55)
  10. Distant Sun (3:50)
  11. Catherine Wheels (5:12)
  12. Skin Feeling (3:56)
  13. Together Alone (3:57)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1993
Total running time: 51:38