Right around the time the last Finn Brothers album came out (which has been too long ago, Tim and Neil), a tribute album appeared, recasting several Split Enz, Finn Brothers, Crowded House and Finn solo numbers with all-female (or mostly-female-with-female-vocalists) acts. It was an interesting exercise in how some of these songs could take on a completely different meaning depending on who was singing them to whom. (Some of the artists involved gender-switched the lyrics, and some performed the songs as written.) Now, several years later, we get to find out how the other half’s been living with an all-male tribute album.
Given that all of the source material was originally performed by all-male groups of one kind or another, it seems like there’s something a little less challenging about the concept behind He Will Have His Way, but it’s at least interesting to hear what’s happened to the chosen songs in translation.
The most interesting reinterpretations are Boy & Bear’s version of “Fall At Your Feet”, which starts out sounding a bit ominous before gradually turning into a more traditional (but still oddly foreboding) band jam, and the very dialed-back, one-man-and-an-electric-guitar rendition of “Distant Sun” by Chris Cheney. “Better Be Home Soon” is heard in two very different forms here, a reading fairly close to the original (but decidedly country-fried) by Busby Marou and a glam dance floor groove by The Sleepy Jackson (an interesting style choice that seems to fly in the face of the song’s lyrics) with actually seems to ditch the tune of the original.
The Split Enz songs in the mix get some interesting twists, from the epic-jokey read of “Shark Attack” to Jimmy Barnes’ throat-ripping but pitch-perfect rendition of “Message To My Girl”. Perry Keyes’ stripped-down, rootsy version of the sci-fi-themed “Poor Boy” is surprisingly effective. Art vs. Science’s take on “I See Red” is slightly modernized, but not by much. Strangely, the Philadelphia Grand Jury cover of “I Got You” strips some of the catchiness out of the tune that finally propelled the Enz toward the top of the charts. The solo careers of the Finns wind up low on the priority list: Neil’s “Addicted” and Tim’s “Not Even Close” are the only solo songs covered here, with both cover versions staying close to home. The only Finn Brothers song proper is a raucous cover of “Kiss The Road Of Rarotonga”.
As disconcerting as The Sleepy Jackson’s cover of “Better Be Home Soon” is, it’s a glimpse into something I would’ve appreciated hearing a bit more of here: some serious stylistic diversion from the original songs. She Will Have Her Way seemed to have a little more freedom here just because there was already enough of a culture shock with the all-female concept; He Will Have His Way hews too close to the originals in many cases. But everything is nicely done, and some of these acts have jumped toward the top of my “check out their other stuff” list.
- I Feel Possessed performed by Oh Mercy (3:15)
- Distant Sun performed by Chris Cheney (3:29)
- Fall At Your Feet performed by Boy & Bear (4:31)
- Four Seasons In One Day performed by Paul Kelly & Angus Stone (4:18)
- She Got Body, She Got Soul performed by Glenn Richards (3:02)
- Addicted performed by Paul Dempsey (4:09)
- Message To My Girl performed by Jimmy Barnes (4:34)
- I See Red performed by Art vs. Science (4:01)
- I Got You performed by Philadelphia Grand Jury (3:12)
- Better Be Home Soon performed by The Sleepy Jackson (4:35)
- Private Universe performed by Artisan Guns (4:15)
- Not Even Close performed by Darren Hayes (4:06)
- Shark Attack performed by The Break with Dan Sultan (4:32)
- Poor Boy performed by Perry Keyes (3:49)
- Better Be Home Soon performed by Busby Marou (3:49)
- Kiss The Road Of Rarotonga performed by Kody Nelson (3:11)
Released by: EMI
Release date: 2010
Total running time: 62:48