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. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    I hadn't actually even seen the thread on that forum until you mentioned it here today. Interesting that Tim (before the record was released) and Phil M (after the record was released) seem to have slightly different opinions on who did what in the songwriting process. I've never read any article where Tim has tried to take more credit than he deserves for any song, but I've seen him point out that for some Finn Brothers songs (such as "Tall Trees" and "Four Seasons In One Day") he was only a minor contributor. So if Tim said he wrote melodies and lyrics I believe him. Though it is very common in the music world that there are different opinions about who did what and how big their contribution was. When I worked in the music copyright industry, I set up legal disputes between songwriters (via their publishing companies, acting on behalf of their clients) several times each working day and there are quite a lot of songs where such disputes remain unresolved many years later (meaning all royalties for such songs are withheld until the dispute is resolved).
     
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  2. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    I agree with this. I can totally imagine this track being on "Big Canoe" and how it would sound produced by Nick Launay and performed by the musicians on that album. I can also imagine it being performed by the musicians on the "Tim Finn" album and produced by Mitchell Froom - though I think Mitchell Froom, as he seems to have been fond of doing, might have suggested Tim use the verses from this song and the chorus from some other song. I don't think the chorus, such as it is now, would have got past Mitchell Froom's critical ears.

    It seems Tim was absent from the finishing of the album and it's likely the original plan was for him to sing lead vocals on the songs that Gary Dyson now sing, and possibly it was planned as a Manzanera Finn album too. If he had been around, I think Tim would also have given his opinions about how the songs were turning out and that would have changed the record in some way. (Neil was partly absent from the "Conflicting Emotions" sessions as he became a father during that time and has said that some of his songs didn't turn out the way he imagined them, eg. "Strait Old Line") Perhaps a reason he has never mentioned this album in any interviews after its release is that he was dissatisfied about how it ended up, but that is of course only speculation on my part.
     
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  3. You hear the disco every time, but your brain represses it because it's trying to protect you. You have a good, loyal brain.
     
  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    I guess the chorus is "salsa" rather than "disco", but I definitely think it's dance-able. It sounds to me like the rich and the poor are having a big party on the streets.

    The verse though is very very serious.
     
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  5. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Our votes for "Rich and Poor"

    1-0
    2-1
    3-5
    4-1
    5-0
    Average: 2.9429
     
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  6. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Today's song is "Dance (Break This Trance)", written by Phil Manzanera and Tim Finn, lead vocal by Tim Finn.
     
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  7. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    More Latin American-style dance music.

    ,I like this one, especially the relentless rhythm and, yes, even the sax jam at the end works for me. I also really like the spoken-word bit with the backing vocalists ("I am earth, I am fire, I give birth to your desire"). I also think the middle 8 is really good.

    I think this is sexy music, and the fact that Tim is able to get all sexy is a good thing. I was getting a bit worried about him.

    I know this album is getting a drumming, but I am actually really liking it, though not loving it. Like Stefan, I think that it's greater than the sum of its parts, and has pretty good flow, with the caveat that my playlist removes the non-Tim Finn associated tracks (which we aren't discussing here, anyway.) I'm going to try it with "Guantanamera", but which I saw on YouTube and is pretty good. It features Ana Maria Velez again and I like it.

    3.8/5
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  8. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    This is a better song than I remember. Tim's vocal melody sounds better, and it's great to hear Tim's voice being this clear. In fact, it's Tim's vocal that is the clear high point for me on this song.

    TBH: I consider it a bit of a Hot Spot Mk 2, and I prefer 'Hot Spot'. (I'm aware of the latin influences here not present on Hot Spot, but they don't blow me away.) The spoken word bit works for me. The production is still a bit 'product' like, but it suits this song better than others.

    3.0/5
     
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  9. jcr64

    jcr64 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
    Sigh. I’ve decided this project just is not for me. The best thing about this song is Tim’s vocal, which is very strong (a bit sadly so, given what we know lay ahead for his voice). Just about everything else I could do without. The low saxophone solo might create an interesting contrast with the higher-pitched, more dynamic solo at the end, but on its own it does a poor job of setting the stage for the song. The melody is fairly unimaginative. The sound of the backing horns bugs me as much here as it did on the other songs. And I *hate* the spoken word section. Yes, I know that’s a strong word, but my dislike is intense. I dislike the device generally—off the top of my head, I can’t think of a time it’s been used effectively.

    So Tim’s vocal performance (of a boring melody) is excellent, and I also like the percussison. That’s about it. I suppose I’m glad to know that this song exists within the Finn world—I didn’t know about this album until the present discussion began. But I feel no desire to hear this song again.

    2/5
     
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  10. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Yes, if nothing else it's a piece of the overall tapestry of Tim's music and career, which is extraordinarily broad.. In the first sentence of this thread, I mentioned "the much-varied ever-changing career of the Finn Brothers" and I was thinking of detours like this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  11. jcr64

    jcr64 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
    I can think of other detours lying ahead ... ;)
     
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  12. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Oh boy, this one doesn’t work for me. The arrangement is way too busy, with Tim’s voice, backing vocalists, and a spoken word female vocal all battling in the mix. The horns and sax are wailing away....it’s a sonic headache to me. If the melody were stronger, I might be able to overlook some of that, but as it is, it’s just way too overstuffed and over baked. Tim’s vocal is very good and I agree that it’s the best thing about “Dance (Break This Trance)”. On the other hand, fake handclaps are always terrible.

    2.6/5
     
  13. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    "Dance (Break This Trance)" was not included on the original LP but it was included on the CD. Again, I think this song works better as part of a whole rather than as a stand-alone song and especially it works very well inserted between "Rich and Poor" and "Verde". The way I hear this album, as a cinematic narrative, in this song the homeless character from "Rich and Poor" is in the sophisticated club I imagined the "beautiful people" dancing to "Guantanamera" (not discussed here on the forum but it's two songs earlier on the album). In this song, I can picture the narrator of "Rich and Poor" dancing intensely with the female narrator of "Astrud" that we discussed two days ago, and that the dancing is a temporary relief from his harsh existance as homeless. The dancing is described as being in a spell, in a trance, the rhythm of the song blended with the saxophones give the music a hypnotic, meditative feel as well as sensuality and mystery. I think Tim's singing captures all those elements too.
    I really like this song in its context though it's hard to imagine it fitting in on any of Tim's solo albums.

    I should say that when I got this album back when it was new, I was expecting a fully blown salsa album and my then-twisted and prejudiced view of salsa meant I kind of expected it to be high energy dance-oriented music performed by 25 horn players, a conga player and Tim's vocals on top of that. Thankfully it isn't quite like that and my "mini album" version of the album is strangely fascinating to me.

    I give this song 4/5.
     
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  14. Turk Thrust

    Turk Thrust Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.K.
    Another dated production and one that I have no desire to hear again.

    2/5.
     
  15. Michael Rofkar

    Michael Rofkar Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Hi everyone, longtime Finn Bros. fan from California here. I've spent the past month catching up with this thread which has been extremely informative. It's great to read so many knowledgeable posts. Now that I'm here, it feels as if I've stepped into a pool of molasses! It will take some getting used to, but I look forward to watching this thread unfold.
     
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  16. This is just ok enough to be a novel curiosity, one where I could go "Hey, this is Tim Finn!" if I heard it somewhere out in the wild.

    3/5
     
  17. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Yes, apart from his work on "Woodface", solo albums, ALT and Finn Brothers there's also children's music, collaborations with rappers, a score for a tap dance show and these days he's writing musicals. And on odd tracks there is a spoken word interpretation of a T.S. Eliot poem, a cricket song and not to forget a song that Tim co-wrote, co-produced, played ukulele and sang on along with Dalai Lama. His versatility is really impressive, even if not all of the above is my cup of tea.

    It's also fascinating that the "Southern Cross" album, the 1990 collaborations with Phil Judd that we'll get to in a few days time and "Woodface", recordings that are all very different to each other, were all released within a year.
     
  18. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Our votes for "Dance (Break This Trance)"

    1-0
    2-2
    3-3
    4-2
    5-0
    Average: 2.9143
     
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  19. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Today's song is "Verde", written by Phil Manzanera and Tim Finn, vocals by Tim Finn.
     
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  20. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    This song is more overtly rhythm and blues with some definite nods to harder rock than Latin American. It's an energetic number with the usual fast-paced rousing horns.

    This soulful rock reminds me a bit of some of songs Simply Red had at that time. There's quite a lot I like musically, but especially find the rhythmic attack of Tim Finn's singing awe-inspiring as usual.

    Oddly the "Dirty Creature" synth isn't credited, but I like it along with the diffuse piano that closes the song, and the funky guitar and so on. I wonder if Tim had more to with this song than merely co-writing and singing

    The song is obviously a portrait of a relationship under distress from lack of money; "living on the 22nd floor, you and I fighting a jungle war"...The woman wants to move away mainly because the man earn enough money? That's what I get from it. I like that, as it's not a place pop songs go too often, and yet money is one of the greatest sources of stress in a relationship.

    I enjoy it. 3.6/5
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  21. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Welcome to the thread, Michael!
     
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  22. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Welcome to the thread, Michael!
     
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  23. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    "Verde" is far more up my sonic alley than most of what we've heard from Phil Manzanera's Southern Cross album so far. I quite like the first couple of minutes of instrumental intro music; it does a great job setting an atmosphere. Tim was really in good voice during these sessions, it seems. The song loses a good-sized chunk of its initial promise when the chorus comes in with the (unnecessary) horns and backing vocalists. I'm noting that this is a pattern for me with the songs on this album - I generally much prefer the verses to the choruses. I find the latter to be overdone - a "too many cooks" type of situation. The lyrics are interesting in using the color green to denote both money and jealousy. The outro is also nice with the 12-string acoustic guitar and piano motifs as the song gradually moves to its final fade. I probably like this one best of the tracks we've discussed from this album, even if "Astrud" is probably still the best cut we've covered from a compositional and performance standpoint.

    3.6/5
     
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  24. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    Verde is for me an OK song. Tim sings it very well. The vocal melody is OK, and would fit on TBC canoe quite well.

    However, while all the ingredients is OK, the song doesn't do it for me. It's like an improved 'Spiritual Hunger' to me - and one that doesn't reach the heights of a song like Hyacinth. On a better album it would make an interesting diversion of style, I think. E.g. if it had been on 'Before and After'.

    There are some musical bits of interest in the arrangement and chord progression. The drum sound is a bit annoying in places. And overall the production is a bit over-done with too many elements. Perhaps the song would be better if the arrangement had been pared down a bit.

    There's nothing wrong with the song, and in a better context it could have formed part of a good album. But, unlike others I find this album to be a little bit less than the sum of its parts. Maybe I need to listen to the album more as a whole, not individual songs. As it is, I could imagine enjoying this song as a diversion with better songs around it, but the Southern Cross album I find a bit uninspiring as an album.

    3.0/5
     
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  25. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    To me, "Verde" is the most Tim Finn-like song of the songs that he is involved in on this album. I can imagine how this song would sound if it was part of the Tim Finn album, performed by the musicians on that record and produced by Mitchell Froom - though I think it would also be about two minutes shorter if it was on that album.
    As it is, I think it is a very good song with superb singing by Tim and well-written lyrics about a relationship that is faltering because of financial differences. In my "cinematic" narrative of the album, this song is the scene where the character of "Rich and Poor", who in the previous song was dancing in the sophisticated club with the glamorous woman who is the narrator of "Astrud", has been "found out", as in not being rich or glamorous enough and is now again struggling to convince his partner to stay with him.
    Musically, it is very good but I think the drumming is a bit too heavy-handed which is a shame as it is one of the few songs on the album with a real drummer. Also, I think the outro outstays its welcome by about a minute. Still, a song well worth listening to.
    4/5.
     

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