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. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

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  2. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    When I first brought Intriguer home from the record shop, I remember hearing the start of "Saturday Sun" and the vocoder doubling Neil's vocal and thinking, "what the f***?". It unfortunately colored my view of the song quite negatively for some time. Even after I had developed a strong appreciation for most of the other songs on the album, this one remained a stubborn holdout. Finally I remember one day being out hiking in the foothills west of town on a sunny Saturday and listening, as I normally do, to tunes on shuffle play. This one came up and I was at a point where I could stop on the trail and look out to the east over the cities on the plain below me. The sun was bright and there were puffy white clouds in the blue sky off into the distance. When the chorus of the song hit, I just felt this huge emotional/spiritual lift. I really don't know what the song is about, which is often an obstacle with some of Neil's songs for me, but, in this case, it was the sound and the melody that turned me over. I now love it.


    There's an interesting acoustic version of the song on a KGSR (Austin, TX) radio compilation CD. Quite nice, although it lacks the energy of the full band version. No vocoder though.

    The live version from the North American Travelogue release is also very good.
  3. Doctor Mu

    Doctor Mu Forum Resident

    Saturday Sun is a MOR single release in many way. Neil Finn's songwriting after Paul Hester's death began to migrate towards an Indy sound. Think about the tight songs on Everyone is Here - a near flawless masterpiece from 2004. Intriguer seems like a transition album to me. Time on Earth was a lot more immediate and emotional.

    There are very good songs on Intriguer. Isolation though is one of the few where the emotion is let out of the box. I like its open ended chord structure, distortion and jam - early McCartney solo career stuff...

    Saturday Sun is solid. But we all know that Neil is a guy that wrote Only Talking Sense, Private Universe, Better Be Home Soon, History Never Repeats, etc.

  4. Michael Rofkar

    Michael Rofkar Forum Resident

    Santa Rosa, CA
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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  5. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Many thanks @Lance LaSalle for these updated lists. The thing I find truly amazing is that there are (approximately) 300 songs that are considered the cream of the crop. That's some prolific output. I mean, if more of us had been voting in the early years, we could have got more of that early stuff across the line too (we demand recounts - just kidding!).
    In any case, I'm just astounded by the Finn quality level and awed by Lance's ability to keep track of it all (many thanks for the color coding).
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  6. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Saturday Sun"

    Average: 3.6882
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  7. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

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

    If the streams above don't work, try listening on Neil's page.

    Another alternative version of this was released on the Intriguer Deluxe album in 2016 and will be held up for discussion separately in a few weeks.
    Neil Finn: Lead and harmony Vocals, Wurlitzer, synthesizer
    Mark Hart: guitar, slide guitar, marxophone, backing vocals
    Nick Seymour: bass
    Matt Sharrod: drums
    Don McGlashan: mandolin
    Sharon Finn: vocals

    Live versions were released on:
    • Intriguer Live Start to Finish DVD/CD (Auckland & Denver)
    • North American Travelogue (Vancouver)
    • several Kufala live CDs
  8. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Canton, NY, USA
    "Archer's Arrows": A very nicely arranged track that works well (for me) as the follow-up to the strong opening statement of "Saturday Sun." While Neil's voice sounds a little ragged in places, he projects a feeling of thoughtful sincerity, and I love the little bass, string section, and keyboard/piano flourishes throughout. All these little details (including the eventual additions of the Sharon vocals and the "Hey-Hey" introjections) gives the charmingly lilting track a kind of warm and gentle glow that I find pretty enjoyable. 4.6/5
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  9. drewrclv9

    drewrclv9 Forum Resident

    Jacksonville, FL
    This is one of my less-than-favorite songs on the album. It's kind of a testament of how good the album is though, since I still like it a fair bit. I like the entire first minute and ten seconds of the song, from the intro keyboard melody to the part with Sharon on backing vocals. Pretty good lyrics as well.

    The chorus is a mixed bag for me. I really like the inspirational tone of it, and the instrumentation is good, but Neil really sounds like he's straining trying to hit those notes. It puts me off it a bit. It also doesn't move me like yesterday's song did, or others on the album for that matter. There's also a hint of genericness to it, but not overwhelmingly so. Then there's the outro, which is really long, and overstays it's welcome by the end of the minute and some odd seconds that it goes on.

    Overall a decent song. In the bottom three on the album for me, though.

  10. Left Hand

    Left Hand Forum Resident

    Archer's Arrows:
    (Note: The Intriguer album notes has Mark contributed Piano and Backing Vocals)

    I agree with @NorthNY Mark comment.

    It did occur to me, Matt's drum roll at the start is almost like, "here comes the next... song...!"
    The lyrics were again abstract to me but again I don't mind.
    I'm glad to hear Neil's real voice after Saturday Sun. I think he sings fine throughout the song with enthusiasm and energy.

    I was a bit surprised to not hear a guitar but the drumming and Neil and Mark both on piano and keyboards drive the song along. The chorus is rather cool with the piano pounding away and the keyboard flourishes at the same time.

    Give this song 4.5 out of 5.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
  11. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    "Archer's Arrows" has a lot of good elements about it. I like the dreamy atmosphere of the music built up by the keyboards, Sharon's backing vocals and how the chorus lifts the song. However, I think Neil's vocals are rather lackluster, like he's just going through the motions. The lyrics are a bit vague, he sings about the people taking the power back and living to fight another day, but I don't hear any commitment to whatever cause he is singing about. The narrator of this song sounds more like someone who might read in the papers that the people didn't take the power back but that his reaction will only be "Oh well, that's the way it goes. What's on TV tonight?".
    But thanks to the music behind those vocals, it is ultimately a decent album track and I don't skip it when I play the album.
  12. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    One of Neil's "ordinary people vs the Man" songs: works best when you don't examine the lyrics too closely, best seen holistically.

    Some lovely keyboard work from Neil: the synth strings, the piano flutters, and I think the sort of restrained verses and the louder choruses are well done -- in fact, there are a lot of details here, including some superior drum-work -- Neil is shouting at the top of his range but it certainly doesn't sound as strained to me as it seems to for others....Sharon's voice seems to be an love-it-or-hate-it thing: I like it, and I sort of like the way the whole thing fades into synth-orchestrations. The Wurlitzer as played by Neil always really adds that seventies yacht-rock sound, but the rest of the arrangement sounds fresher.

    This is a great pop song, marred mostly by the inarticulateness of the message: you feel the intelligent and profound thing he's struggling to say but it never gets beyond the foggy.4.2/5
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
  13. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    Archer's Arrows

    I think this is an excellent song, and the lyrics work for me. On one level its about a historical revolution, but it's open to many more interpretations.

    As already mentioned, the instrumentation and arrangements are very good. I haven't heard the 'work in progress' version of this (if such exists.) But, I suspect this song benefitted from work on the road.

    I think Neil sings this well. Sharon's voice works very well for me. The production makes her voice sound 'Crowded House' to me. It doesn't sound like a distinctively different voice out of nowhere. To my ears at least.

    This song is slower paced, as are a number of songs on the album. To me, this is a characteristic of the second Crowded House era. (Despite personnel changes I see the first four albums plus a bit more as the first era.)

  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    There is an earlier version that I will hold up in a few weeks; its quite different.
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  15. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Oops...looks like I was looking at "Saturday Sun"-- mornings. No Don McGlashlan on this either, and Lisa Germano on violin...Sorry Lisa.
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  16. BRBD

    BRBD Forum Resident

    It passed me by on the album - the loud mastering does it no favours - but there was a live-in-the-studio performance video of this at the time that got under my skin and made me realise what a beautiful piece of craftwork it is. Of course, with all craftwork, you won't notice the details of the finery on a cursory examination.

    Unfortunately, it's also the last song Neil wrote that ever really 'hooked' me. Perhaps entering this thread so late in the piece might reveal some unknown treasures on the albums that follow.

    A rating? 4.8 sounds good.
  17. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    You're right: I neglected to mention, or overlooked it, but it was also released on Upstairs AT Home DVD.
  18. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Nottingham, UK
    Archer's Arrow so nearly hits the target (see what I did there?) but just misses. Unfortunately, the scoring on this particular board is pretty harsh, and a near miss falls away quite dramatically. What I mean by all this is that it ought to be a song I really love but somehow, by just missing, it really doesn't achieve what it ought to. I love the introduction and the way the song builds. But then the chorus just doesn't take off and soar the way the best NF songs do. And it's a real shame, because it feels like the verse and bridge really set it up... "ladies and gentlemen! Here's the turn your soul inside out chorus you've been waiting all these years for!!!!!!!".... and what we actually get is such a let down.

    In the end, the song could have been a very mellow contemplation. It could have been a hook-laden tour-de-force as good as anything the band did. It ends up being neither.

    I really like Sharon's voice but at the time I really didn't like the idea of her being so prominent in Crowded House. Given the massive shifts in membership recently, such a quibble now seems churlish.

  19. BRBD

    BRBD Forum Resident

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  20. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    Archer’s Arrows - I like this song well enough musically, but I can’t connect with it lyrically at all. The lyrics just seem incredibly vague to me, to the point where I can’t construct any meaning at all that resonates with me. Sharon’s line in the background about an arrow in the heart is the only line that stands out to me at all. And again, I think the arrangement is overly busy. There are too many different instruments playing all at the same time (and what’s with the Liberace piano runs??) and it threatens to overrun what is, underneath, a very nice song.

  21. ToneM

    ToneM Forum Resident

    Birmingham, UK
    Archer's Arrows

    And... drumroll. Once we're past the bizarre military intro, I really enjoy Archer's Arrows. It's quite stagey, a song to admire and appreciate rather than wig out to. Some cool medieval imagery in the revolutionary (in the political sense) lyrics. Shame there's no trebuchets, they're all too often sadly overlooked in popular music. The lyrics are awkward in places ("kids kissing on the floor", "the sucker hanging from your mouth"?), but you can't fault their ambition.

    The arrangement is quite overdramatic and overwrought. By the time it reaches 'people take the power back', this could easily double for a rallying showstopper in Les Mis. Maybe that's in keeping with the subject matter, but it comes across a little uptight and forced, which is interesting to contrast with the far more relaxed and succinct demo.

    I never even noticed Sharon does backing on this and can still barely hear any, but my ears have a very limited frequency range. Anyway, this is one of the strongest songs on the album for me and I like it a lot.

  22. UrAWizHar

    UrAWizHar Forum Resident

    Archer's Arrows I think is the strongest song on the whole album. I think it's performed well and for once Sharon's voice fits in well with the overall arrangement, and I think it has one of the best bridge/chorus sections of any song Neil has written for oh, about 20 years.

    Although I could do without the drumroll which every time makes me think we are about to launch into Cherub Rock.

  23. Thank you for this @Lance LaSalle . What an amazing amount of energy and passion you've put into this, much appreciated.
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  24. I don't post often on this thread but had to make a comment on this one. CH toured SA twice. Once in 1993, and again in 2010 on the back of this record. I was fortunate enough to see both tours. 1993 from the nosebleeds, 2010 front and centre, close enough to watch what Neil was doing on his guitars and effects boards.
    I will always have fond memories of this album because of that. Yes, older songs stick out like the incredible version they were playing on that tour of Private Universe (man, Matt could play those drums!) but also because, as so often happens, the new songs really came to life when you saw them played live in front of you. My recollection is that Saturday Sun was sublime live, vocoder-thingy and all..
    I hope I will be forgiven for posting a video, as badly filmed as it was on whatever phone I had back in 2010, complete with cheesy titles. Cameras were not allowed but for the very last song.

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  25. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Archer's Arrows - I think I like this song a bit better than Saturday Sun. I'm not bothered by the lyrical clumsiness. At the best of times I don't necessarily get Neil's lyrics but that doesn't stop me from enjoying his songs (and quite often he has sublime turns of phrase which I adore). The musical arrangement is really great albeit a little busy. Having listened to Intriguer yesterday, that's one of the things that stood out to me - a bit too busy and produced.

    That being said, I like the sweep of this song - there's some nice drama building in this song. There's something about it which says "Neil grower" to me so I'll score accordingly.

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