7 Worlds Collide – The Sun Came Out

7 Worlds Collide - The Sun Came OutThe first 7 Worlds Collide album (and DVD) chronicled an all-star gathering of international musicians who assembled quickly to play a few dates in Neil Finn’s stomping grounds; the album was culled from the live performances, and the superstar band (which included the likes of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder) disbanded, after its shows raised money for charity. The second release under the 7 Worlds Collide banner retains the all-star band part of the formula, but the resulting double album is a creature of the studio, often under the watchful production eye of Neil Finn and/or the talent to which any given track is credited. There a few old faces and a few new ones as well: many of the guest musicians are drawn from a somewhat more local talent pool, with a number of names who may be well known in New Zealand but perhaps not so much outside of the south Pacific.

Virtually the entire Finn family is present, naturally; Neil Finn duets with his wife Sharon on “Little By Little”, a song about the rapid approach of an empty nest at home, and he also duets with Liam Finn, his son who’s carving out a respectable career as a solo artist, on “Learn To Crawl”. Liam also gets a solo turn in the twisty waltz “Red Wine Bottle”, while his younger brother Elroy (who has already been playing live with Crowded House) gets the studio to himself for “The Cobbler”, and while he hasn’t quite carved out the unique sound that Liam has, Elroy still bears watching – as with his older brother, his voice gives away his lineage. Tim Finn also turns in a pleasant solo song, “Riding The Wave.” Fans of the Finn family tree certainly won’t be disappointed by this collection.

Neil’s signature production style permeates nearly every other track on the album, too. It could be argued that The Sun Came Out is perhaps a little less varied in style than the previous 7 Worlds Collide project; with the whole thing in the studio under Finn’s aegis, it’s easy to tell who was at the wheel. This doesn’t detract from the fact that there are some fantastic songs here: Don McGlashan’s “Make Your Own Mind Up” and the KT Tunstall/Bic Runga duet “Black Silk Ribbon” are two of the best songs I’ve heard out of anyone, anywhere, all year long. Liam Finn’s “Red Wine Bottle” is a low-key number that sticks in your head, while the cheery lead track, Johnny Marr and Neil Finn’s “Too Blue”, is enough to brighten anyone’s mood. I also have to single out Jeff Tweedy’s “You Never Know” for special praise: the tune, the performance and the production almost achingly remind me of early ’70s George Harrison, and this is not a bad thing. At all.

If I have a single complaint with The Sun Came Out, it’s that the first disc is a pure pop adrenaline rush, while the second seems to slow down. It really doesn’t, but somehow the second CD lacks the “oomph” packed by the first disc (which literally doesn’t let up for its entire running time). And disc two is no slouch by any means – we get a new Neil Finn solo number (“All Comedians Suffer”), Tim’s and Elroy’s songs, KT Tunstall’s “Hazel Black”, and another Don McGlashan number, “Long Time Gone”. There’s no letdown in quality but somehow there’s a slight darkening of mood.

4 out of 4But that’s a very minor quibble indeed; with the possible exception of Battlestar Galactica Season 4 (and let’s face it, in most cases these two projects are aimed at wildly different audiences), there’s not another two-disc set that’s going to give you this much enjoyment for the price – and once again, Finn & company are sharing the proceeds with charity, so there’s more feel-good to some of these feel-good songs than you might expect. Very, very highly recommended. (Now get back in the studio with Crowded House, Neil!)

Order this CDDisc One

  1. Too Blue – Johnny Marr with Neil Finn (4:01)
  2. You Never Know – Jeff Tweedy (4:18)
  3. Little By Little – Sharon Finn and Neil Finn (3:18)
  4. Learn To Crawl – Neil Finn & Liam Finn (4:59)
  5. Black Silk Ribbon – KT Tunstall & Bic Runga (3:48)
  6. Girl Make Your Own Mind Up – Don McGlashan (5:29)
  7. Run In The Dust – Johnny Marr (4:23)
  8. Red Wine Bottle – Liam Finn (4:26)
  9. The Ties That Bind Us – Phil Selway (3:22)
  10. Reptile – Lisa Germano (3:53)
  11. Bodhisattva Blues – Ed O’ Brien & Neil Finn (3:55)
  12. What Could Have Been – Jeff Tweedy (3:41)

Disc Two

  1. All Comedians Suffer – Neil Finn (4:28)
  2. Duxton Blues – Glenn Richards (3:35)
  3. Hazel Black – KT Tunstall (3:46)
  4. Riding The Wave – Tim Finn (3:32)
  5. The Witching Hour – Phil Selway (3:03)
  6. Over & Done – John Stirratt (3:41)
  7. A Change Of Heart – Bic Runga (3:14)
  8. Don’t Forget Me – Pat Sansone (3:38)
  9. Long Time Gone – Don McGlashan (4:02)
  10. The Cobbler – Elroy Finn (4:33)
  11. 3 Worlds Collide (3:06)
  12. The Water – Sebastian Steinberg (4:02)

Released by: Sony
Release date: 2009
Disc one total running time: 49:33
Disc two total running time: 44:40

Crowded House – Farewell To The World

Farewell To The WorldOn November 24th, 1996, the original lineup of Crowded House (plus longtime touring musician and recent full-time recruit Mark Hart) took its final bow on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, with a crowd of somewhere around 200,000 people making it the biggest concert anywhere in the world that year – ironic when one considers that the whole thing started out with Neil Finn’s suggestion for a humble, small-scale farewell performance for the group’s final public outing…at least in that form.

Farewell To The World has wowed me for a long time, going all the way back to its VHS video release, and I’ve always wondered where in the world the obligatory CD was. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the group’s final performance (as well as to get the Crowded House name back in the public eye just in time for a reunion album and tour), Farewell is finally available on CD and DVD, and it even sidesteps my natural inclination to grumble about re-releases that this edition includes some material that didn’t appear on my now well-worn videotape of the event. Still, this should’ve been on CD years ago.

It’s difficult to overstate just how good a live band Crowded House was. Part of the reason Neil Finn closed the books on Split Enz was to focus on a less “produced” sound that could be more faithfully captured on stage. At least that was the idea before the band teamed up with producer Mitchell Froom, who added churchy organ solos, sampled strings and horns, to name just a few of the touches which meant that the group couldn’t tour without a keyboard wizard in tow. But even with that in mind, the band pulls it off incredibly well here. Songs like “Private Universe” and “Hole In The River,” already more than listenable, take on new life here. (Even with two studio versions of “Private Universe” out there, I consider this performance to be the definitive reading.)

Farewell To The World was already a historical document of sorts, but with Paul Hester’s tragic death, it becomes even moreso. Paul gets his moment in the spotlight during “Sister Madly”, serving as both drummer and comedian, though his impression of Tina Turner falls a little bit flat when robbed of its visual component (file it under “you had to be there”); I’m a little surprised it’s actually on the CD at all. I don’t recall hearing “Italian Plastic” on the previous video release either. To say the whole band is on top form is a bit of an understatement, and I’ve especially got to single out Mark Hart’s luxurious walls of electric guitar feedback, never overpowering but always atmospheric.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Farewell on CD is that it was a bit of, for the lack of a better term, “stealth marketing” presaging the return of Crowded House to the studio and the stage. I’m eagerly awaiting the new album and tour, but I can truthfully see where both camps are coming from (Pro-Crowdies Reunion vs. Get Back Together But Don’t Call It Crowded House Without Paul). As with the reunion itself, it’s too bad that it took a tragedy to finally get this into our CD players.

Order this CD

    Disc one:

  1. Mean To Me (4:11)
  2. World Where You Live (3:33)
  3. When You Come (5:54)
  4. Private Universe (5:35)
  5. Four Seasons In One Day (2:54)
  6. Fall At Your Feet (3:25)
  7. Whispers & Moans (4:30)
  8. Hole In The River (6:47)
  9. Better Be Home Soon (4:43)
  10. Pineapple Head (4:04)
  11. Distant Sun (4:51)
  12. Into Temptation (4:49)
  13. Everything Is Good For You (4:09)
    Disc two:

  1. Locked Out (3:49)
  2. Something So Strong (3:51)
  3. Sister Madly (4:54)
  4. Italian Plastic (3:51)
  5. It’s Only Natural (5:07)
  6. Weather With You (5:22)
  7. There Goes God (4:54)
  8. Fingers Of Love (5:35)
  9. In My Command (4:26)
  10. Throw Your Arms Around Me (2:57)
  11. Don’t Dream It’s Over (6:22)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 2007
Disc one total running time: 59:25
Disc two total running time: 51:08

She Will Have Her Way: The Songs Of Tim & Neil Finn

She Will Have Her WayIt’s very simple, the premise of this tribute to the music of New Zealand’s premiere pop music exports, Tim and Neil Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House, and respective solo careers and collaborations as the Finn Brothers). The basic idea is this: female or predominantly female acts from Australia and New Zealand reinterpret songs from various stages of the Finns’ careers in their own style. What emerges from that idea is an array of wildly different styles, voices and degrees of fidelity to the source material.

If you’re not from that part of the world, you may not know who virtually all of the performers are (I can relate – prior to this CD, I must confess that I had only heard of Boh Runga and Natalie Imbruglia). But like a lot of “various artists” projects heavy with smaller acts, you’ll probably walk away from the endeavour wanting to sample more of their work. Clare Bowditch’s rendition of “Fall At Your Feet” gets things rolling, and as much as I was faintly disappointed by the fact that the song that gave this album its name wasn’t actually covered, “Fall At Your Feet” serves as a good eye-opener when the unchanged lyric “I’m really close tonight, and I feel myself moving inside her” is sung by a female vocalist. This is an excellent cover too, stripping the song down to basics somewhat and yet retaining so much of its yearning feel.

A few of the covers are almost baffling, but at the same time I admire the reinvention of every single one of them. Renee Geyer transforms “Into Temptation” into a pop song with hip-hop influences, and “Persuasion” and “One Step Ahead” make a successful leap into bubblegum pop territory. Some of the covers don’t stray far from the source material at all – “Won’t Give In”, from the Finn Brothers’ 2004 album, becomes just a little bit country-fried, while the group Little Birdy turns the dense synth textures of “Six Months In A Leaky Boat” into dense guitar textures. “I Hope I Never”, while a bit stripped down from the synth-orchestral arrangement of the 1980 Split Enz version, retains its soaring, wistful vocals thanks to Lisa Miller. “Better Be Home Soon”, which was always written as a ballad reflecting the thoughts of a woman whose significant other is away from home far too often, finally gets to be sung by a woman here.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t crazy about Holly Throsby’s “Not The Girl You Think You Are” remake, but that’s just down to it being not my favorite style of singing; your mileage may vary. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” is a nice cover, but almost strips the song down too much, only to restore it to its full glory by recasting the famous organ solo as a choral piece.

For the most part, the lyrics are left unchanged; a few adjustments are made for gender here and there. I was a little dismayed that “like a Christian fearing vengeance from above” was completely excised from “Distant Sun”; Brooke Fraser’s cover of the song is very nice, but there’s a little voice in my head that says these artists are supposed to be reinterpreting the songs here, not rewriting them. I found this single omission more jarring than any of the more daring stylistic alterations, because it changed what was being said and not how it was being said. (Neil Finn’s recurring “lapsed Catholic” theme is an intriguing thread running through a great many of his songs, and part of the character of his work.) But then maybe I’m being a bit too defensive of the source material there.

There are other ways to drastically change the character of a song, though. Sophie Koh’s reading of the early Enz tune “Charlie” takes the song’s already dark narrative – involving someone waking up from a hangover and realizing that they killed their friend during an argument the night before – and puts a whole different spin on it by making the song fast and fun, leaving the story intact but generating a “crazy chick” vibe that makes it unnerving in a whole new way – as if the person doing the singing isn’t remorseful of what has happened, but is instead blissfully unaware. “Charlie” is almost punk rock in this incarnation, and it may well be the best thing on the CD. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for some of Sophie Koh’s originals. I was surprised by how much I liked Natalie Imbruglia’s take on the Crowded House number “Pineapple Head”, too.

rating: 4 out of 4So, the question is…will you enjoy She Will Have Her Way? I give it a strong recommendation – in particular, even though I didn’t get it (mainly because I’ve already got all of the original albums on which these songs appeared), the 2-CD version which allows you to compare the covers with the original recordings. You might find some of the differences jaw-dropping. In any case, these were great songs to begin with – lyrically and musically outstanding works – and they survive even the wildest changes and still emerge as great songs. Whether you’re a Finn fan daring to try out some different takes on your favorites, or someone just now sampling both these artists and the music of Tim and Neil Finn for the first time, this is a solid collection that’ll keep you coming back for more.

Order this CD

  1. Fall At Your Feet – Claire Bowditch (3:50)
  2. Stuff And Nonsense – Missy Higgins (3:31)
  3. I’ll Never Know – Goldenhorse (3:04)
  4. Into Temptation – Renee Geyer (4:56)
  5. Six Months In A Leaky Boat – Little Birdy (3:53)
  6. Better Be Home Soon – Kasey Chambers (3:19)
  7. Distant Sun – Brooke Fraser (3:56)
  8. Not The Girl You Think You Are – Holly Throsby (3:37)
  9. I Hope I Never – Lisa Miller (4:09)
  10. Don’t Dream It’s Over – Sarah Blasko (4:42)
  11. One Step Ahead – Amiel (3:01)
  12. Four Seasons In One Day – New Buffalo (4:00)
  13. Won’t Give In – Sara Storer (4:18)
  14. Pineapple Head – Natalie Imbruglia (3:23)
  15. Persuasion – Stellar* (3:41)
  16. Charlie – Sophie Koh (3:47)

Released by: EMI
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 61:07

Finn Brothers – Won’t Give In

Finn Brothers - Won't Give In CD singleThe first single from Tim & Neil Finn’s recent Everyone Is Here album, “Won’t Give In” is accompanied on this CD single by a couple of songs that, perhaps, lend a little bit of insight into why that album was essentially recorded twice.

The lead single itself is, naturally, the same as what appears on the album, no surprises there. The real gem of this three-track CD is “Way Back Down”, a Neil-heavy number with some fun lyrics and interesting musical structure that just begs for a singalong. “Way Back Down” was produced by Mitchell Froom, the Crowded House producer who worked with the Finns to rerecord all but one of the tracks for Everyone Is Here almost from scratch. As catchy as it is, I’m surprised that this song didn’t make the cut for the album itself; I could actually nominate a song or two whose place it could’ve taken.

“Almost” means that some elements, especially the occasional orchestral backing arrangement, was salvaged from the original sessions produced by the legendary Tony Visconti. The second non-album B-side featured here, “Sunset Swim”, is a survivor of those original sessions, and it’s a laid-back, folky number with some interesting, singing-in-the-round elements to it. Interestingly, the one Visconti-produced track to survive on the album itself was the slickly-produced “Disembodied Voices”, which didn’t sound out of step with the Froom-produced tracks. “Sunset Swim”, on the other hand, is loose enough that it almost hearkens back to the 3 out of 4original Finn Brothers album – and whether the artists or their label made the decision, one gets the feeling that someone wanted to avoid that comparison.

An interesting trio of songs, this one – it’s worth it just to hear “Way Back Down”.

Order this CD

  1. Won’t Give In (4:18)
  2. Way Back Down (4:12)
  3. Sunset Swim (3:50)

Released by: Parlophone / EMI
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 12:22

Finn Brothers – Everyone Is Here

Finn Brothers - Everyone Is HereIn the nine years since their first album hit the streets (and I was a bit of an early adopter too, snatching up an import copy months before a North American distribution deal was even hinted at), it seems I’ve had a bit of a hard time selling everyone on the merits of The Finn Brothers as an act unto themselves. And y’know, it wasn’t Crowded House’s Woodface, and it wasn’t Split Enz reborn, it was its own unique, rough-hewn entity. Even if you’d heard everything that either Tim or Neil Finn had done before, the original Finn Brothers album was not something that any of that had prepared you for.

With Everyone Is Here, however, there’s a much more obvious polish to the whole thing – and in the finest tradition of the aforementioned gem of a Crowded House album, the whole thing was, for all intents and purposes, recorded twice over. Everyone Is Here was originally recorded in an upstate New York studio under the auspices of legendary producer Tony Visconti, but apparently the brothers changed their minds, scrapping everything except Visconti’s string arrangements on several songs and re-recording the lot with Mitchell Froom, who produced all but one Crowded House album, as well as Tim Finn’s third solo album and worked on Neil’s most recent solo outing, One Nil / One All.

The first single, “Won’t Give In”, is a radio-friendly mid-tempo affair heavy on Neil vocals, and it sets the tone for the album as a whole – hopeful, wistful, and concerned (not unlike the aforementioned Neil solo outing) with matters of home, hearth and heart. It’s catchy – but ultimately eclipsed by several other songs on the album when the whole thing is listened to in one sitting.

“Nothing Wrong With You” sports some of the best brotherly harmonies on the whole CD and a lush orchestral backing for what is, on the surface, a rather folky little number. “Anything Can Happen” is more of a thumping rocker, while “Luckiest Man Alive” comes closest to the loosely-arranged charms of the original Finn Brothers album – the harmony’s still there, but everything’s much looser, more like an off-the-cuff jam than the rest of the album.

If there’s anything that caught me off guard with Everyone Is Here, it’s that a number of the songs reminded me less of Crowded House and more of Split Enz. It seems to be primarily the songs driven by Tim Finn that do this, and “Homesick” may well be the Enziest song on the album, with the strings and vocals in the chorus strongly echoing the Judd-era Enz chestnut “Spellbound” – for all I know, with the song’s theme of returning home, Tim may have deliberately steered the song in that direction as a thematic element of coming full circle. It’s a great song on its own, with some dreamy harmonies in the chorus and soaring orchestral elements contrasting a series of raw and raucous verses.

“Disembodied Voices”, apparently the sole survivor of the original New York recording sessions with Tony Visconti, is a soft-pedaled folksy affair with mandolin and banjo – the latter played by Neil, an ability I’m not aware that he’d demonstrated before now. It’s an interesting little song, nicely produced, and leaves me wondering what happened that sent the Finns scrambling back to the safety net of Mitchell Froom.

“A Life Between Us” has the confident gait of a 50s rock ballad, and it’s primarily a Neil song – there’s not much evidence of Tim until halfway through the song, when a nice harmonic break reminding me a little of the bridge from the Crowded House song “Everything Is Good For You” brings both voices into play. “A Life Between Us” and “Disembodied Voices” also have slightly unusual lyrics – it’s rare for the Finns to pen lyrics that directly address their brotherly relationship, and even rarer for them to put two songs back-to-back that do that.

“All God’s Children” is a gleeful, distorted-guitar romp with another increasingly rare phenomenon – some classic throat-thrashing vocals from Tim. The next song is a shock to the system, chasing an unabashed rocker down the ornate ballad “Edible Flowers” (which many of us first heard on the Seven Worlds Collide concert DVD). I’d loved this song since that rather rough live performance hit my ears, and here the song comes into its own with a beautiful orchestral backing and a perfect vocal balance between Tim (in the verses) and Neil (in the absolutely soaring choruses). “Edible Flowers” may well be the best song on this whole album – everything just seems to click on this one.

A couple of Tim-heavy tunes, “All The Colours” and “Part Of Me, Part Of You”, bring back some really unusual chords and writing, and again on some intangible level they conjure up the Enz songwriting ethos in my mind. Part of me is thinking “well, duh, same vocalists, same songwriters, of course it sounds like the Enz,” but I still can’t shake the feeling that these are the Enziest songs that the Finns have turned out in ages. “Part Of Me, Part Of You” also bears a strong resemblance to a classic Crowdies tune – if you listen closely, the chords in the verses are almost the same as those in “Walking On The Spot”, only going much faster! That song also has a lyric – “we’ll still be here / when the cows come home” – which got a laugh out of me. I suppose it could be seen as trite, but compared the usual lyrical sophistication we get out of the Finns, it’s got shock value with a touch of humor.

4 out of 4Tim and Neil both have a habit of ending albums on a slow but hopeful note (well, okay, maybe “Kiss The Road Of Rarotonga” doesn’t really bear that pattern out), and they do so again here with “Gentle Hum”, a song with a Neil lead vocal and a mostly hummed chorus. This song also has electronic percussion that, while it doesn’t really stick out enough to distract from the other instrumentation, seems slightly at odds with the rest of the song’s stripped-down, folky sound. That’s really venturing into nitpicking territory though – it’s a fine song, and a great one to go out on.

Order this CD

  1. Won’t Give In (4:21)
  2. Nothing Wrong With You (4:12)
  3. Anything Can Happen (3:05)
  4. Luckiest Man Alive (4:00)
  5. Homesick (3:50)
  6. Disembodied Voices (3:42)
  7. A Life Between Us (3:55)
  8. All God’s Children (3:49)
  9. Edible Flowers (4:53)
  10. All The Colours (2:13)
  11. Part Of Me, Part Of You (3:31)
  12. Gentle Hum (4:38)

Released by: Nettwerx (North America) / Parlophone (everywhere else)
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 46:14

Listen To What The Man Said

Listen To What The Man Said: Popular Artists Pay Tribute To The Music Of Paul McCartney“What’s this?” I asked. “A Paul McCartney tribute album benefitting cancer charities and featuring the Finn Brothers? Sign me up!”

Actually, this nice little selection, proceeds from which go toward the fight against breast cancer, has many good covers of Macca’s post-Beatles best. Owsley kicks things off with a picture-perfect reading of “Band On The Run” which doesn’t stray very far from the original Wings recording. SR-71 turns “My Brave Face” – one of my favorite latter-day McCartney solo tunes simply by virtue of the fact that it isn’t “Hope & Deliverance” – into a gleeful hard-rock thrash. Semisonic also faithfully replicates “Jet”, rocking it out a bit but not so much that it’s unrecognizable. The Virgos give a similar treatment to “Maybe I’m Amazed”, while the Merrymakers punch up “No More Lonely Nights” (another personal favorite) a bit. Some of the other renditions fly under the radar a bit – Matthew Sweet’s “Every Night” for one.

And as for Tim and Neil Finn? It pains me to say it, but their cover of “Too Many People” is a mess – it sounds like an unrehearsed one-take-and-that’s-it wonder, without much effort. The arrangement isn’t organized, the sound quality isn’t even up to the standards of the brothers’ admittedly (and intentionally) lo-fi Finn album, and the vocals just smack of a cover band that’s been asked to play something they’d mostly forgotten. Sad to say, the Finn Brothers, who drew my attention to this collection, turned out to be its biggest disappointment. I was stunned. I was also looking forward to the They 3 out of 4Might Be Giants cover of “Ram On”, but it wasn’t so much disappointing as just inscrutably cryptic in its new arrangement.

Overall, a nice set – and one that truly turned my expectations on ear by introducing me to some excellent new artists while the known quantities gave me a wee bit of a let-down.

Order this CD

  1. Band On The Run – Owsley (5:14)
  2. My Brave Face – SR-71 (3:00)
  3. Junk – Kevin Hearn, Steven Page and Stephen Duffy (2:56)
  4. Jet – Semisonic (4:15)
  5. No More Lonely Nights – The Merrymakers (4:11)
  6. Let Me Roll It – Robyn Hitchcock (4:21)
  7. Too Many People – Finn Brothers (3:43)
  8. Dear Friend – The Minus 5 (4:45)
  9. Every Night – Matthew Sweet (2:56)
  10. Waterfalls – Sloan (4:21)
  11. Man We Was Lonely – World Party (2:59)
  12. Coming Up – John Faye Power Trip (3:43)
  13. Maybe I’m Amazed – Virgos (4:14)
  14. Love In Song – The Judybats (4:04)
  15. Warm And Beautiful – Linus of Hollywood (3:08)
  16. Ram On – They Might Be Giants (2:40)

Released by: Oglio
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 60:30

Rain – music by Neil Finn

Rain soundtrackNeil Finn’s first foray into film scoring is an interesting mix of new songs and moody instrumental pieces. The songs and score tracks alternate for much of the CD, dividing things up nicely and creating quite a tapestry of different moods. “You Don’t Know” kicks things off with a dark, slinky feel and some outstanding vocal harmonies (not unlike the underrated Finn Brothers album), which brings me neatly to one other point – a lot of the vocal numbers on this soundtrack are almost “mini-songs,” very short in duration and sparse on lyrics (check out “Boat Joyride”, barely a minute long). “Summer Intro” quotes an infectious melody that later forms the basis of the song “Drive Home”, followed by “Summer Of Love”, a Finn/Edmund McWilliams collaboration on a song written by McWilliams. Again, vocal harmonies are to the fore. Elsewhere on the album, standouts include Lisa Germano’s “Cry Wolf” and her violin-driven instrumental “Phantom Love”, the eastern-influenced Finn instrumental “Red Room”, and another Finn/McWilliams collaboration, “Drive Home”, which is an instrumental for the first half of the song before the vocals ever kick in. Rounding things off is Neil’s son Liam Finn (of Betchadupa as well as his dad’s touring act) with “Lucid Dream”, an instrumental version of a song from the new Betchadupa album Alphabetchadupa. Perhaps the most out-of-place item here is a 1970 number from Human Instinct, a very, very Move-like late 60s/early 70s New Zealand rock group. In a way, it’s out of place for being the oldest song on the CD, but with the lo-fi production utilized on much of the soundtrack, it also fits in quite nicely, ironically enough.

It’s important to point out that, unlike film or stage music by, oh, say, Peter Gabriel, the soundtrack from Rain is not a wasteland of previously-released material minus the vocals. Liam’s singular contribution aside, Neil Finn’s material is all-original here. The only thing it references is other tracks on this album – and last time I checked, that’s called a theme, something which comes in mighty handy 4 out of 4when you’re doing music for a movie or a TV show.

Overall, it’s quite an effective freshman film music outing, one that makes me hope Neil Finn might try this again sometime – just so long as he keeps turning out his own music as well instead of, oh, say, spacing solo albums ten years apart from each other.

Order this CD

  1. You Don’t Know – Neil Finn (song) (2:55)
  2. Summer Intro – Neil Finn (score) (1:39)
  3. Summer Of Love – Neil Finn & Edmund McWilliams (song) (2:52)
  4. Mum In Bed – Neil Finn (score) (0:57)
  5. Orange And Blue – Neil Finn (song) (2:29)
  6. Red Room – Neil Finn (score) (3:05)
  7. Cry Wolf – Lisa Germano (song) (4:57)
  8. The Affair – Neil Finn (score) (3:41)
  9. Black Sally – Human Instinct (song) (6:35)
  10. Boat Dawn – Neil Finn (score) (1:17)
  11. Boat Joyride – Neil Finn (song) (1:01)
  12. Kids Floating – Neil Finn (score) (1:09)
  13. Batman – Neil Finn (score) (1:59)
  14. Shower – Neil Finn (score) (1:35)
  15. Phantom Love – Lisa Germano (score) (3:22)
  16. Drive Home – Neil Finn & Edmund McWilliams (song) (5:39)
  17. Lucid Dream – Liam Finn (song) (4:17)

Released by: EMI New Zealand
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 49:29