Stranger than Fiction, Larger Than Life: the Finn Brothers song-by-song discussion thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lance LaSalle, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    I think the diversion is kind of on topic, seeing as this very song we are discussing was recorded with Neil and Paul (and maybe Mark) without Nick. The thread is about the nature of Neil and Tim's music to some extent.

    Both are collaborative, like just about every musician, even Prince. (whose arrangemesnt were very much informed by the bands he played with even if he ended up playing all the parts on the record.)

    As for Mark, I get the pain from fans: Together Alone is perhaps my all-time favourite album and I think Mark is a big part of that sound -- and that's not even to mention the incredible chemistry and amazing shows the 89-96 line-up had.

    The fact is, this is the way Crowded House rolls. Crowded House is not like the Beatles or REM or U2...The band are more like the Cure, in the sense that the line up changes and the music changes along with it, but it's still centered on the songs of the undisputed leader. So Mark is the Porl Thompson of the band, I guess: he joined, he made his mark, he left.

    The main difference is that the personality of the players had always being such a big part of the act, I guess.

    I love that Washington show though, weak harmonies (actually I remember a distinct lack of them on that one) or no.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  2. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    I think Dr Livingstone is one of the better Afterglow tracks but I'm not sure I can imagine it on Woodface, even though I do agree it's better than some of the weaker Woodface tracks. If that sounds like a contradiction then I guess I'm wary of opening the floodgates of swapping odd individual tracks on/off albums versus retaining the artistic integrity of the album as released.

    Perversely, however, I'm happy to take the nuclear option of creating 2 totally new albums (as Lance mentioned he does too) from the myriad tracks recorded during the Finn Brothers and Woodface sessions.

    3/5 for Dr L.
     
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  3. Sorry about the double post a little ways up - it didn't show up the first time so I rewrote and resubmitted, and now they're both there somehow! When I noticed, it was too late to edit/delete... so you get to see me say the same thing twice. Lucky you.
     
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  4. Turk Thrust

    Turk Thrust Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.K.
    Difficult to know how to rate these demos due to the cheesy productions (or non-productions).

    I May Be Late is not bad though and probably should have been developed more for release. 3/5

    Dr. Livingstone I like less. The lyrics feel self-conscious and clumsy and I'm not surprised that this fell by the wayside. 2/5.
     
  5. BeSteVenn

    BeSteVenn formerly mrpleasant, now Steven

    Location:
    Kaskeland
    I really like Dr. Livingstone. It's not one that I'll seek out to listen to as I do with so many other Neil Finn and/or Crowded House songs, but I never skip it when it turns up when I'm listening on shuffle play.

    If it had been on Woodface instead of several other songs, and I'd probably like it even more, but I tend to forget about it because of its former rarity. I have to give it a 4/5.
     
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  6. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I've never been a fan of "Dr. Livingstone". It was, to me, rightly rejected from consideration for the final version of Woodface. It's just about the only song from all of the 1989-91 sessions that I don't like. It was first released as a b-side on the "It's Only Natural" single (the Australian version) and then later appeared as a b-side on other international single(s) culled from Woodface. I'm pretty sure that the exact same mix was included in 1999 on Afterglow, just mastered much more loudly.

    I'm not really sure why the song has never resonated with me. The lyrics are interesting, but ultimately don't provide me with anything I can personally relate to on an emotional level. The melody is okay but far from ear-grabbing. The song is well played and well recorded (as was everything they did at this time). It just all lays kind of flat for me.

    3.3/5
     
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  7. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I've solved this problem (to the extent that it is one) by including in my "Crowded House" playlist everything we are covering in this thread, whether Split Enz, solo Tim, solo Neil, CH, Finn Brothers, Pajama Club, ENZSO, or music by the Finn offspring. Yes, the playlist is 249 songs long (at present), but I can always drop into it wherever I wish. I set it up so that it has a really nice flow, switching from one artist to another pretty seamlessly and without any odd-sounding, awkward transitions. (I never play it on shuffle.)
     
  8. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Oh wow. RIP indeed. Condolences and sympathies to the Finn family.
     
  9. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    This is a good point that I'll raise when we get to TA. That album, to me, didn't sound much like Crowded House when it came out. I think that TOE is closer, in my mind, to having the classic "Crowded House feel" than TA is. I love both albums and rate them about equally in terms of quality. I think, as time has gone on and I've been more exposed to the variety of music created by Neil Finn, I've become more accepting of whatever he decides to do at any given time as being of a piece with his prior work, whether inside of Crowded House or outside of it. In some ways, I might even consider TA to be the only "true" CH album, since it was the only one with the original trio that was recorded solely with the members of the band involved (plus the Maori musicians and singers on a couple of tracks) and in New Zealand to boot. Of course, the record company ended up influencing the content of that album in much the same way they did Woodface, but, as much as I dislike the sound of the album as compared to TOLM and Woodface, it's probably their most organic band album.
     
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  10. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    I don’t think the record company influenced TA. I think they tried to get them to go back and record more, looking for a single and Neil just refused: said he couldn’t do it again.
     
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  11. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I remember reading something at the time it came out that "Locked Out" and "Skin Feeling" were added at the suggestion of the label to provide some more "rocking" material. Probably in Rolling Stone or some similar music magazine.
     
  12. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Ah. The Bourke book disagrees with that and kind of makes a big deal about Neil standing up to Gersh at the risk of losing support from Capitol. Which may have been what happened.

    but it could be. Maybe they were originally outtakes. But It doesn’t mention that they headed back to the studio and did much more, certainly it didn’t take another 8 months. And does mention the recording of the two tracks in Kare Kare.
     
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  13. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Our votes for Dr. Livingstone:

    1-0
    2-1
    3-2
    4-5
    5-1
    Average: 3.6444
     
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  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Today's song is "My Legs Are Gone", written by Neil Finn and produced by Neil Finn.

    Spotify: My Legs Are Gone

    This outtake was not part of the original Woodface submitted to Capitol but was considered for Afterglow in 1999, when it was mixed. It was originally released as a free download by Tower Records in 2000 and again on a Frenz of the Enz release called I Like It Rare and finally on the Woodface Deluxe album in 2016.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
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  15. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    I am a bit late with my comments about "Dr. Livingstone", sorry about that. In Europe (outside the British Isles) this was first released as a bonus track on the "It's Only Natural" CD single in January 1992. It was great to get another non-album track (after "Anyone Can Tell" which had been on the "Chocolate Cake" CD single) and this is a real quality track. I think it has a great intensity and groove and the lyrics paint a vivid picture of how Neil experienced his visit to Mozambique. Visiting a refugee camp in a war-torn country must make a strong impression on anyone and a huge contrast to Neil's (and our) everyday life. He sings the lyrics with a lot of commitment and Paul's drumming really fits the song. Having said that, musically I think it sounds closer to the "Temple of Low Men" sound than the "Woodface" sound so maybe that played a part in its non-album status at the time even though it is vastly superior to a track like "Fame Is" (the other bonus track on the European and Australasian edition of the "It's Only Natural" CD single).
    Neil's African trip obviously also inspired the lyrics of "As Sure As I Am" and I wonder if there was a kind of either/or situation regarding these two songs, that Neil and/or the record company felt that only one of them could be on the album. I think this song deserved better at the time, but at least it made it to "Afterglow".
    4/5.
     
  16. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    My sympathies to the entire Finn family. I was at Tim's show at Bush Hall in London in 2015 and he talked very fondly about his father. He said that when he, Neil and their father were all in Auckland together, they would go to a particular club or restaurant, where there was a grand piano that guests could play if they wished, and that at the end of each visit there, Richard Finn would request that Tim and Neil play his respective favourite track by them, "Many's The Time" and "Better Be Home Soon". Always those two tracks and apparently Tim wasn't always that keen to play it again. I've also read in an article that before any record was released, Tim and Neil would both send their music to their father and he would give each song a rating, and if any song got a score of 7 (out of 10) or lower, they would be concerned as they knew that was a low score by Richard Finn's standards. He (and Mary Finn too) seems to have taken a keen interest in their music and supported their sons a lot. Tim and Neil both seem to have been very close to their father.
     
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  17. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Yes, we can consider one of the posts as the studio demo version and the other one as the album version! :)
     
  18. Paul H

    Paul H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    If you're referring to the disc I think you're referring to, you're right: that band definately wasn't Crowded House: it was Neil on his solo One All tour :)
     
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  19. Paul H

    Paul H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    I'm loathe to raise this point re what constitutes CH because it reeks of first-generation fan snobbery, but I wonder whether there's a correlation between those fans who were "around" during what I'll tentatively call Phase 1 (1986-1996) and those who came afterwards with regards to their views on the subject. My thesis would suggest that fans who saw CH live (with Hessie) during that era have a greater affinity towards the idea of CH as a band - and a band that features more than just Neil and Nick - than those who didn't.

    I don't suggest that in order to claim one "side" is right or wrong, merely to understand the dynamic. Anyone who's read the discussion on this topic over at the Frenz Forum will know that I was (and am) utterly perplexed by one fellow fan's seemingly contradictory view that CH was his favourite band and that he'd much rather see Neil work with them than without, but yet was happy to accept Time on Earth as a CH album despite the fact that a third of the band (CH were a threesome at the time they split) weren't present on the majority of the tracks.

    In the end, it matters not; I just enjoy digging into why I and others feel the way we do.
     
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  20. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Maybe the argument is that there's a certain "sound" that Crowded House has on record. But I'm not sure how much I buy that.

    Anyway: "My Legs Are Gone" is an interesting missing link. I feel that this song sound much more like Woodface songs than "Dr. Livingstone", which I agree reminds me more of Temple of Low Men's vibe.

    Here we've got the snappy drums and the 12-string jangle and the interesting mix of optimistic yet brooding mood that characterizes a lot of Neil's songs on Woodface. What's interesting here is the uncharacteristic brightness of the last chorus (before the very moody tag starts.) And about that tag: it's something...else, Here much more than on Dr. Livinstone, I think Mark Hart makes his presence felt: this definitely doesn't sound like Mitchell Froom's work, it is very much a new element in the band's sound. Mark brings a much more kind of arty, alternative vibe to his contributions which I like a lot.
    However, I'm not sure if it's as seamlessly integrated with the rest of the song here as his contributions on Together Alone and other, later records: It sticks out a bit, nice as it is. It also kind of reminds me of the tag of "Secret God" from 2001. But I like it a lot, nonetheless.

    Lyric-wise, I guess I think the song is the typical jumble,.and maybe I'm so frazzled by my increasingly busy job to even have a clue as to how to approach interpreting it with any energy. But the lyric works better for me line-by-line than quite a lot of the Temple of Low Men songs, and I just love the music, especially the way the moody, pretty verse gives way to the energetic, slightly shouty chorus. Neil seemed to like doing that a lot (and continued to do that for some time) but rarely does it work better than this. The song ends on a note of optimism; perhaps the last chorus's line about "saying I love you" and noting the blueness of the sea is about him coming out of a bad mood and deciding that life is, indeed good, with love. But it's undermined by the uneasy work in the tag.

    I think it's a great track. I guess maybe it's unnecessary on Woodface as I think there's a certain vibe that it has in common with "Fall at Your Feet" and "Whispers and Moans", plus there's the fact that it was recorded during the Nickless period that makes it an obvious outtake; but I honestly think it's up to par than most of the Neil songs on that album.

    I give it a 4.6/5.
     
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  21. jcr64

    jcr64 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
    I know that, :)
    I just meant that a band isn’t Crowded House merely because Neil is fronting it and it plays some Crowded House songs.
     
  22. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    Before I found out, I would have thought a song called 'My Legs Are Gone' would be a Paulo track.

    The track itself is interesting. It starts out sounding like one of those songs like 'Left Hand' that's a bit simplistic for CH. I can't imagine it being on TA for that reason. But, the instrumental coda in particularly is much more interesting. The arrangement sounds more fleshed out than some other songs. Not all of it sounds perfectly finished. E.g. there is some organ later on that seems to come out of nowhere.

    The lyrics are fine. It's a good song. But, I don't think it quite matches the songs that got on the album. Listening to the b-sides makes me think that CH got it right in choosing which songs to use and which not.

    3.8/5
     
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  23. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    I agree. But what constitutes Crowded House, if not specific people?
     
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  24. Paul H

    Paul H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    My mistake. I get you.

    As for My Legs are Gone: I'm not sure what to say. It's just there. It would have made a fine B-side and, perhaps, ought to have made it onto Afterglow, but I can see why it didn't. A rare 2/5.
     
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  25. Technically I get a quarter (probably around 20p) every time someone says "it's just there" to describe a song in this thread. But you're right on point here, so I'm going to waive my royalty entitlement for this one.

    It's nice, it's pleasant, but it's very much just sort of in the background.

    3/5
     
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