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 Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Tomorrow, I'm going to start holding up songs from Intriguer, by Crowded House.

    Crowded House (Neil, Mark, Nick and Matt) spent the last half of 2007 touring in support of Time On Earth. In February 2008, they convened in Auckland to begin recording their next album, which was to be a full band album, not a hybrid solo/band project as Time On Earth had been. They recorded a number of demos and also played some gigs live , testing out some of the new songs and working out kinks.

    At some point it was decided that, rather than just recording a new album straight out of the gate, (as that would be far to simple and straightforward for Neil!) it was decided that the band would "test" the songs on the road before recording them on album: the idea of course was to get the songs really good in a live setting that they could then bring to the studio and thus, it was hoped, capture some of the legendarily elusive live "magic" that had characterized many of their lives shows since the late 80s. They continued to tour the world, starting in March '08 playing gigs in Europe, playing week/week and a half gigs in various places: North America, Europe and finally in Australia, where they broke in December for Neil to work on The Sun Came Out.

    During the 2008 tour, they honed and perfected Neil's new set of songs, in many cases dramatically transforming them in the process.

    In March 2009, Neil played a dual-gig as part of both Crowded House and Split Enz, who both reunited to play the Sound Relief concert in Melbourne on March 14th, 2009...and it seems that the band got together to begin properly recording their next album in about May of 2009.

    Intriguer was produced by Neil and Jim Scott, a veteran engineer/producer who hailed, like Wilco, from the Holy and Hallowed Land of My Birth, the suburbs of St. Louis. Scott had co-produced The Sun Came Out and also Wilco's contemporaneous album, which was recorded also at Roundhead in early 2009. It was recorded mainly in Neil's own Roundhead Studios in Auckland. Recording seems mainly to have been between May and October 2009. It was recorded by Jim Scott and Jordan Stone (who had worked on Tim's last few projects as well as Champagne In Seashells). Some additional recording was done at Exchequer Studios in Dublin by Brian Crosby and more recording and mixing was conducted at Plyrz Studios in LA by Jim Scott.

    The album was entitled Intriguer after...well, after a fictional, iconic character that Neil had made up...uh, I don't really get the concept, to be honest and I'm not sure it has much to do with the songs on the album, anyway.

    The album was released, to more-or-less universally favorable reviews in most of the world on Universal, the entertainment mega-corporation that had devoured, jackal-like acquired EMI Records, Neil's international record company since 1985.

    In the US, though, as had been the case with Neil's last several albums, Intriguer was released on an independent label -- in this case, on Fantasy Records, which had grown from a minor label that specialized in jazz and beat poetry in the 50s to a quite respectable size, eventually merging with Concorde Music Group.

    The album hit #1 in Australia, #3 in New Zealand and #10 in Belgium and charted in several other countries, including the UK and the States, where it hit #12 and #50, respectively.

    The track list was:
    1. Saturday Sun (Neil Finn)
    2. Archer's Arrows (Finn)
    3. Amsterdam (Finn)
    4. Either Side of the World (Finn)
    5. Falling Dove (Finn)
    6. Isolation (Finn, Mark Hart, Nick Seymour, Matt Sherrod)
    7. Twice If Your Lucky (Finn)
      • Twice If You're Lucky {live, recorded February 2008, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    8. Inside Out (Finn)
    9. Even If (Finn)
    10. Elephants (Finn)
    In addition to the above I plan to hold up the following:
    • Distance Across (Finn) {leftover from Time On Earth that I forgot about}
    • Turn It Around (Finn) {digital-only bonus track from iTunes}
    • Eyes Grow Heavey (Finn) {digital-only bonus track from Getmusic}
    • Only Way to Go Is Forwards (Finn) {live, recorded February 2008, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Beautiful Life (Finn) {live, recorded February 2008, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Either Side of the World (Finn) {live, recorded February 2008, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • God Lives Over the Road [Studio Demo] (Finn){recorded February 2008, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Isolation [Studio Demo] (Finn){recorded February 2008, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Better Things [Studio Demo] (Finn){recorded February 2008, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Archer's Arrows [Alternative Version (Finn) {Recorded May 2009, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Saturday Sun [Alternative Version (Finn) {Recorded May-June 2009, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • The Intriguer [Studio} [Alternative Version (Finn) {Recorded May-October 2009, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Two Minutes of Silence (Finn-Hart-Seymour-Sharrod {recorded 2011-2016, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Nonsense Of Course (Finn-Hart-Seymour-Sharrod {recorded 2011-2016, released in 2016 on Intriguer Deluxe}
    • Corporate Mindset [demo] {2009, from Fang Radio}
    • Live releases:
      • Upstairs At Home bonus DVD
      • Intriguer Start to Finish DVD/double CD -- Auckland/Denver
      • The North American Travelogue -- triple CD of 2010 tour, released in 2013
    Thus on the 19th of March I expect to start with BARB -- I plan to go over any songs not sung by Liam two at at time -- then on to Pajama Club a week or so afterwards, then FOMO, then The View Is Worth the Climb sometime mid-April.
  2. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    While we are still lingering pre-Intriguer I should mention Phil Judd's Unthinkables project from 2009: an collaboration with Roger Grierson of Thought Criminals.
    Sort of an arty electronica music, perhaps somewhat reminiscent of Nigel Griggs 2002 album: here's "Who Killed Vaudeville"(not for rating)

    The album was called Untitled.

    StefanWq and HitAndRun like this.
  3. jcr64

    jcr64 Forum Resident

    "Gladness" is such an odd song. Strong lyric and decent melody, then the musical explosion signaling madness (definitely not gladness), then a brief return to the melody. The harsh musical break is effective in its way, but it's definitely not enjoyable or appealing (to be fair, it's not really supposed to be). This is the kind of experiment you can get away with on a bonus track; I think it would have been truly jarring as an album track.

    A hard-to-rate 3/5.

    I listened to Intriguer twice yesterday to get ready; I'm looking forward to the next few weeks.
  4. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    *sharpens knives* ;)

    This album single-handedly put me off listening to early versions of any artist’s songs before the official release.
    BeSteVenn, StefanWq, jimbutsu and 4 others like this.
  5. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Gladness - I think this is a very good song. I agree that the musical explosion near the end will be divisive. You will either love it or hate it. I actually like it -I think a lot of jazz pieces do this quite often and I have to guess with Katie's pedigree that this was the source of this musical arrangement.

    And I totally agree with pretty much all that @HitAndRun has said about this song - and he expressed it much better than I could have.

  6. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    Meticulously planned as always. Thanks for your hard work, Lance.
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  7. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    To these I'll add Solo AT the Seymour, by Neil Finn, which was recorded in 2010 but released last October.
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  8. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    I like "Gladness" more than the previous track that appeared on the album proper. No, the melody isn't particularly strong, but I think her vocal really expresses the emotions in the lyrics quite marvelously. The atonal section also works for me in the context of this song. I wouldn't say that this is brilliant, but it certainly holds interest and appeal for me.


    I am going to relish our trek through Intriguer, which is one of those rare albums that I didn't much like on first listen but has grown immeasurably on me over the years to the point where I now love every single track on it. After we finish Intriguer it's going to be a long dark stretch for me I'm afraid....probably all the way to Out of Silence.
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  9. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I should add, that in the months off between projects, Neil worked very hard at growing a weird uneven sinister moustache, which has been unevenly shaved and lopsided in every photo i've seen: something like a lamer version of that moustache Bob Dylan used to have, the little villain moustache. It was probably a misguided attempt to match the magnificently rich facial hair of his son or the silvery flowing locks of his brother. I mention it because it threatened to overshadow the entire album and indeed, almost derailed his entire career.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
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  10. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident


    I was watching the Upstairs at Home DVD earlier, thinking that might be where the commentary you were looking for was (it wasn’t) and there it was, the moustache. I had forgotten how truly awful it was. It distracted me throughout the entire video.
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  11. Jaffaman

    Jaffaman Senior Member

    Your introductions are always excellently researched and written. Bravo.
    BeSteVenn, HitAndRun, jcr64 and 7 others like this.
  12. Jaffaman

    Jaffaman Senior Member

    The story/legend/complete fabrication/honest truth is that someone drew a moustache on an Intriguer concert poster just down from Neil's studio in Auckland, and Sharon encouraged Neil to grow one just like it. The more fans expressed displeasure, the more Neil wanted to keep it.
    BeSteVenn, HitAndRun, jcr64 and 9 others like this.
  13. And here I'd always thought he was looking to make his "I'm perfectly comfortable but this is how I get crazy rich" money off of fast casual fried chicken franchising, only to scrap it and hit the Fleetwood Mackpot instead...
  14. Left Hand

    Left Hand Forum Resident

    A very nervous hello. I feel like saying, "can I pop in the discussion here."
    I've been enjoying reading the comments on this forum (only discovered it when you were up to Time on Earth) but have read all the other pages.
    I'm looking forward to discussing Intriguer. It's my second equal favourite Crowded House album! Temple of low men is the other equal second and Together Alone my top favourite.
    This is my first post on this website itself, so I'll see how it goes when I press "Post Reply"
  15. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Canton, NY, USA
    Welcome to the thread and to the forum!!! Very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Intriguer.
    BeSteVenn, HitAndRun, Paul H and 4 others like this.
  16. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    Welcome! It’ll go very well! This thread is the best Finn discussion I’ve ever had. I’ll be sad when we catch up to present day. And I kick myself for reading for almost a year before I summoned the nerve to open my mouth!
    BeSteVenn, HitAndRun, jcr64 and 5 others like this.
  17. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    Excellent! Glad you've joined us!
  18. Left Hand

    Left Hand Forum Resident

    Thank you for the welcome .
    Mark Hart mentioned about 'testing' Crowded House songs live - especially from on Intriguer album - on the 'My favourite album' podcast (now on YouTube) with Jeremy Dylan.
    He said it's like "road testing a car. See if you like it".
    BeSteVenn, HitAndRun, jcr64 and 5 others like this.
  19. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Welcome! Glad to have you aboard!
  20. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Same @brownie61! I missed all the early Enz stuff...aargh and also lurked on the fringes for quite some time! And yes, it is hands down a fantastic discussion so enjoy @Left Hand.
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  21. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Gladness"

    Average: 3.45
  22. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Welcome @Left Hand , I've seen your name in the "viewing this thread" list the last few days and I thought, hmmm. that must be a Finn fan...
    KangaMom, HitAndRun and Left Hand like this.
  23. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Collated ratings for Champagne in Seashells
    1. Plane Crash 4.1
    2. Long Way To Go 3.8167
    3. Won't Change My Mind 3.476
    4. Honest Face 3.3778
    5. On Your Side 3.525
    Champagne In Seashells 3.525
    Average by Song: 3.6591
    • Captain Cat Is Crying 2.6167
    • Having A Baby 2.7286
    • Old Man 3.5167
    HitAndRun, jcr64 and StefanWq like this.
  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Collated ratings for North South East West - miscellaneous Tim Finn 2010
    • Into the Water 3.39
    • Stuff And Nonsense [2009] 3.5143
    • So Deep 3.3635
    • Nothing Unusual 3.4938
    • Weather With You [2009] 3.8143
    • It's Only Natural [Open Mic Nite] 3.72
    • Fiery Maze [2009] 3.7889
    • Mockery 4.1063
    • Predicament 3.8
    • Never Know Your Luck 3.9166
    • Gladness 3.45
  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "Saturday Sun", written by Neil Finn and produced by Neil Finn and Jim Scott; engineered by Jim Scott & Jordan Stone; mixed by Jim Scott.

    I have a feeling that hte YouTube link above might not work in North America. Here it is on
    Spotify: Saturday Sun
    And for those of you who don't hate videos, you can find all Crowded House Videos on Neil's site here:
    Videos - Crowded House — Neil Finn


    Neil Finn: vocals, guitar, Korg microsynth
    Mark Hart: guitar, slide guitar, marxophone, backing vocals
    Nick Seymour: bass, backing vocals
    Matt Sharrod: drums
    Don McGlashan: mandolin

    "Saturday Sun" was released as a single ahead of the album release.

    An alternative version was released in 2016 on Intriguer: Super Deluxe. I plan to hold that version up separately in a couple of weeks, so today's discussion will be confined to the album version.

    Live versions of "Saturday Sun" have been released on
    • Upstairs At Home live DVD
    • North American Travelogue
    • Intriguer Live Start to Finish (Auckland and Denver)
    • Many Kufala live CDs
    It seems that the vinyl version of this song is ten seconds shorter than the CD versions?

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