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. PJayBe

    PJayBe Forum Resident

    Italian Plastic gets the album back on track for me. Great fun song, a real song of the joys of love and the sometimes silly things you do and say. A 5.
    D.B., HitAndRun, jcr64 and 2 others like this.
  2. Otis82

    Otis82 Forum Resident

    The Netherlands
    There was also a dispute concerning “Edible Flowers”. On a re-release (could have been the “tour edition”) of Everyone is Here the credit was amended to Finn / Finn / Rayner / Griggs / Crombie, because the song had roots in a Split Enz studio session from 1999.
    JCo, D.B., HitAndRun and 3 others like this.
  3. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    I love Italian Plastic. The lyrics are humorous and endearing at the same time, and seem to embody Paul Hester’s personality. The chorus is exhilarating, and the sound of Paul and Neil singing together in the chorus is one of my most perfect Crowded House moments. This song always makes me smile.

    D.B., HitAndRun, NorthNY Mark and 6 others like this.
  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    That fang radio broadcast is essentially a new Kitchen Sink compilation. Great stuff there.
    D.B., HitAndRun, brownie61 and 2 others like this.
  5. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    "Italian Plastic" is one of the sunnier songs on the album and I think it fits right in on Woodface. Oddly, I think it fits in less well on the original darker proto-Woodface album, but goes better with the Finn Brothers songs: upbeat, poppy and gentle, humorous and whimsical.

    I do really like the Neil/Paul vocal harmony; while not as eye-popping as Neil/Tim's vocal, they definitely made a pretty good sound together as can be heard from numerous live performances.

    When Paul was on he was a great harmony vocalist and added a lot of energy to the band's music. All of the elements of the song are more-than-fine and if it's not rating a perfect 5 from me, well, the fact is it doesn't reach the heights of the Finn Brothers best songs but it probably is the best of Paul's songs which I've heard -- oh, and I do like most of Paul's songs, as my votes have shown, with only My Telly's Gone Bung being a little less interesting to me. And even that I think is as much a problem of a bum arrangement -- it's too long for it's ideas.

    It's easy to hear the gentle whimsy here and feel that there's an undertone of sadness to it, knowing of Paul's eventual fate. I'm not sure if it's really there or just a hindsight thing. Anyway, this probably is Paul's best song and certainly is his most commercial and instantly likable.

    D.B., factory44, Ryan Lux and 8 others like this.
  6. BeSteVenn

    BeSteVenn formerly mrpleasant, now Steven

    Speaking of which, @Jaffaman seems to have taken a balcony seat during the discussion of the Woodface songs. I hope he can do what it takes to get these
    songs up on the Kitchen Sink.
    D.B., HitAndRun and StefanWq like this.
  7. BeSteVenn

    BeSteVenn formerly mrpleasant, now Steven

    Italian Plastic deserves its place on Woodface both for its musical worthiness and its lighter (surface) mood. It adds variety and more hidden depth to the album, but it doesn't stick out the way that All I Ask sticks out. It would have been essential to the pre-Tim Woodface, and a song like this on Temple of Low Men would have improved that album in for me. (Blasphemy, I know, but TOLM has always seemed too serious to me.)

    D.B., HitAndRun, jcr64 and 5 others like this.
  8. Otis82

    Otis82 Forum Resident

    The Netherlands
    Bono has been reading this thread lately and was inspired to sing the chorus of “Fall at your Feet” during “Bad” in Auckland last night.

    Selena Luscombe
    JCo, D.B., Jaffaman and 6 others like this.
  9. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Jaffaman has basically done that. You can stream the broadcast there on now. The main difference between this and the Kitchen Sink is just that the songs aren't divided into separate tracks.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019 at 7:43 AM
    D.B., Jaffaman, HitAndRun and 2 others like this.
  10. Turk Thrust

    Turk Thrust Forum Resident

    Sorry, I should have mentioned that I was behind and I was talking about All I Ask.

    As Sure As I Am is pretty great and one of my favorites on the album. I'd almost forgotten about it but 5/5.

    Italian Plastic is enjoyable and a nice change of mood. 3/5.
    D.B., therunner, jcr64 and 2 others like this.
  11. I absolutely love "Italian Plastic." Theres a sweetness and a devotion there that makes it so much more than a simplistic love song. From the mundanity of little gifts to the soaring highs of how the singer clearly feels just for being in the same orbit as this person, all of it feels equally important.

    "I'll be your little boy running with that egg on his spoon" might be one of my favorite lyrics ever, and to me is a perfect articulation of being all in on someone.

    Paul H, D.B., Ryan Lux and 8 others like this.
  12. audiomac

    audiomac Forum Resident

    Italian Plastic

    As has already been said, charming, fun, sunny, but it also has some depth behind the seemingly simple, fun lyrics.

    Always enjoyable.

    D.B., robcar, HitAndRun and 6 others like this.
  13. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Forum Resident

    Toronto, ON, CA
    Italian Plastic

    It suffers a bit from being near the end of the album. I'm not sure I can judge it anymore as hearing them sing this after Paul's passing was a very bittersweet moment. It now seems to embody Paul likely more than it did at the time. It's a real nice song with quirky lyrics that are both funny, sweet and strange.

  14. jcr64

    jcr64 Forum Resident

    Early on, I dismissed "Italian Plastic" as a trifle, with lyrics that were, well, "pathetic." I've since come to appreciate it more. Some of that appreciation comes, as robcar notes, from the song's placement--it comes at a moment when the album needs some levity. Some comes from the fact that the band and Froom arranged and performed the hell out of the song--I don't think it could possibly receive better treatment than it does here. And some is the sad hindsight of knowing Hessie's fate.

    I used to skip it. I don't now. I don't think there's any question that this is Hester's best song with Crowded House. It's still a trifle, but a pleasing one.

    D.B., StefanWq, Ryan Lux and 3 others like this.
  15. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    Hmmm.... I must admit that I don't seem to like Italian Plastic as much as other people here. It's OK, but for me doesn't go above that. The production and arrangement is good, especially the outro. In terms of being Hessie's best song in CH, personally I much prefer Skin Feeling. And 'Wanted To Say' is my favourite Hester song ever.

    Italian Plastic is fun, but I don't find the depths in it that others find.

    D.B., Aphoristical, StefanWq and 3 others like this.
  16. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    I don't really like "Italian Plastic" either. The best I can say about it is that it's the only Hessie song I don't always skip, only maybe half the time depending on my mood. It's always difficult when one band member is the principal, and superior, songwriter because a song from a different member is naturally going to sound a bit odd in both quality and style. Ringo is the obvious analogy but there are countless other examples, and I'm afraid Hessie is firmly in those camps for me. Incidentally I feel the same way about cover versions on an album, even when it's a cover of a better song than Hessie's I still find the change of style too jarring.

    JCo, D.B., HitAndRun and 2 others like this.
  17. DolphinsIntheJacuzzi

    DolphinsIntheJacuzzi Forum Resident

    Houston, TX
    There is a certain poignancy to "Italian Plastic." Paul was always the joker, the fun-loving party clown. But here, we get a brief glimpse behind that mask. We get to see the vulnerability and insecurity that must have driven his persona.

    Like Robin Williams, you always assumed that Paul was just a silly, funny, crazy guy. You didn't really understand the depths of despair that must have hidden behind that public face. But this song gives you a glimpse of his sensitivity, and it's even more affecting in retrospect.

    In that sense, I think the version on "Farewell to the World" is perhaps definitive, as it presents the song as stripped of all accoutrements, and has an almost heartbreaking sense of intimacy.

    But in any version, this song is a keeper. Maybe not quite up there with the best of the Finn brothers' songs, but very close. 4/5.
    D.B., BeSteVenn, AudioEnz and 9 others like this.
  18. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    I'm very fond of "Italian Plastic". Both musically and lyrically it has Paul's unique sense of humour, while at the same time portraying a relationship with real warmth. It is very catchy and well-written. My favourite part is how the partner obviously can be quite blunt - if the narrator's gifts are pathetic the partner will say so, but the narrator still feels loved, safe in the knowledge that the partner will stick up for him in tough moments. I also like that the narrator will be the "soul survivor", not the sole survivor. Maybe it's just a typo in the booklet but I hope it's not. To me, that phrase portrays how the narrator appreciates that they might have disagreements and crises but will still remain soulmates.

    When CH played in Stockholm on the Woodface tour, on October 22, 1991 it was the five-man line-up (Neil, Tim, Paul and Nick, plus Mark) and the energy wasn't quite right. I felt the set list didn't flow that well, Tim looked very uncomfortable during the non-Woodface songs and one of my friends commented afterwards that Neil seemed "very little brother-ish" around Tim. This was one of Tim's very last shows as a member and it all makes sense with the benefit of hindsight. At the gig, my friends and I sensed that something was wrong but thought it might be something specific to that gig only.
    In any case, the one song where all members seemed to have a blast, at the same time, together, was "Italian Plastic". It was the second song during the first set of encores. Paul came up front with his single stand-up drum kit, Richard Thompson joined in and they were all (except Mark who remained behind his keyboards) standing next to each other at the front of the stage. I was in the centre of the front row so Paul was just in front of me. He sang and played this song with such great commitment and passion and for those few minutes he was an incredible frontman. It was a real highlight of that show.

    Lovely song!
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  19. dthomas850

    dthomas850 Forum Resident

    Cleveland, Ohio
    Italian Plastic 4/5
    D.B., BeSteVenn, HitAndRun and 2 others like this.
  20. Michael Rofkar

    Michael Rofkar Well-Known Member

    Santa Rosa, CA
    Good analogy with Robin Williams there. "Italian Plastic" is such a sweet song. 4/5
  21. factory44

    factory44 Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA USA
    Italian Plastic is by far my favorite Paul Hester song. It’s quite lovely.

  22. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Canton, NY, USA
    Another fan of "Italian Plastic" here. It seems to encapsulate perfectly the goofy yet deeply touching persona that Paul brought to the band. So heartfelt--"I don't feel pathetic," "I'll be your glass of water, uh-huh," "My bella bambina"--all these moments give us a sense of the person that is pretty rare in a song lyric. Unlike "All I Ask," I not only consider it to be fully in the mode of Crowded House, but also a necessary ingredient in the album being a full-fledged CH album. (Without Paul, I've never been able to think of the reformed CH as fully and truly being CH). 4.5/5
    Paul H, factory44, D.B. and 6 others like this.
  23. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Italian Plastic:"

    Average: 3.9474
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  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Today's song is "She Goes On", written by Neil Finn.

    Spotify: She Goes On

    The song was originally called "Song For Lorna", and was written for the "mother of a close friend's funeral". Neil recorded a home demo in the 1988-1989 era.

    I believe this final version was cut after Tim joined the band, though whether this was intended for the Finn brothers duo record and had tracks recorded in Periscope or was later cut in LA , I am not sure. I've always thought it had more of an LA sound.

    Live versions of the song have been released on both Crowded House and Neil Finn fan club albums.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019 at 1:56 AM
  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    "She Goes On"(Song For Lorna)" home demo, recorded and produced by Neil Finn, mixed by Jeremy Ansell.

    Spotify: She Goes On - Home Demo
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