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

    Enzso:

    I really enjoy this album, pretty much all the way through. I do think the ballads little better with the orchestral treatment than some of the upbeat numbers. Finn Brothers are in good voice, and Neil, in particular sounds beautiful singing "Stuff And Nonsense"-- better than Tim's original in my opinion, thanks to Neil's phrasing. This was at the peak of Neil's powers as a vocalist, I think, the 1993-2000 era.

    The version here of "STranger Than Fiction/Time For A Change"is probably my favorite version of all of these, that song just really lends itself to the quiet beauty and loud grandiosity that the orchestra provides, plus I love the Finn's harmony vocals on the former. "Under The Wheel"is quite nice too. I just wish that San Hunt would scream "It's Not Fair!!!" in stead of just sounding mildly disgruntled.

    Overall, a highly enjoyable album that I actually spent quite a lot of time with back in the 2003 or so, which is when I got it. One of the last albums I remembr buying in the States before I left and I played it a lot that summer. Memories.

    3.7/5
     
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  2. BeSteVenn

    BeSteVenn little-known member

    Ages ago I emailed Peter Green advocating for the release of The Mullanes Demos, he replied that Neil didn't like looking back, and that release would likely never happen. Of course thanks to @Jaffaman their release did eventually happen, but I think that email exchange was probably not long after the first round of Enzso. The Enzso vocal tracks were recorded in the first week of January 1996, and in March 1996 Crowded House reconvened to record the new songs that would end up on Recurring Dream, and then in June 1996 Neil announced the end of Crowded House. By the time of the Enzso concerts of February 1997 Neil was about to be knee deep in recording Try Whistling This, which is light years away from Enzso. I sometimes will listen to his Enzso contributions before I put on Try Whistling This for the contrast, and possibly the gravity assist that his participation in Enzso had on his career for a few years.

    I like everything on Enzso, however I consider it a curio more than anything else. Tim's contributions seem a little phoned in, but I still like them. It's neat that Neil did get into the spirit of it for that brief time. Favorite tracks for me are "Stuff and Nonsense" and "Stranger Than Fiction/Time for a Change". And in a now nostalgic sort of way I really like the low-res video files on the American enhanced CD.

    3.8/5
     
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  3. iarla

    iarla Forum Resident

    Location:
    Providence, RI
    It's a fresh mix. I applaud the intention in re-singing the "Aotearoa" line, which obviously means a fresh mix was needed.

    The mix itself is competent, just a little dry—as in missing reverb—and compressed sounding to my ears. To be fair, it's probably hard to approximate the mix that Hugh Padgham did in 1982 without the same equipment, especially if you're doing it "in the box" (i.e. mostly on a computer, not using a mixing desk and outboard equipment). I still have mixed feelings about the 2020 True Colours remix, and without sounding negative, I'm not sure I'm interested in a Time & Tide remix and I'd be nervous about the idea. The original mix as it sounds on vinyl (without all of the stereo widening nonsense that happened on the CD releases) is pretty unbeatable. I am willing to be proved wrong.

    If there's a fresh, sympathetic master of the original mixes without all of the stereo widening nonsense for the 40th anniversary, I will be all over that. Warners can have my money for as many formats as they can sell.
     
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  4. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    ENZSO

    I think this is an interesting and ambitious project that almost, but doesn’t quite work on this album.

    I am mostly interested in the Finns’ contributions, and also Dave Dobbyn’s, who is a great singer and succeeds more than I would expect here.

    The orchestration is mostly over the top, but the songs are strong enough to withstand it.

    I prefer the ENZSO version of Message to My Girl to the original. It gets a bit bombastic, but Neil sounds great, and I think this captures the emotion of the song in a different, and possibly better, way.

    Stuff and Nonsense is a great song whether Neil or Tim sings it. If not for the ghastly choir, this version would be as good as the original, IMHO. But the choir doesn’t kill it for me (as much as I hate unsoulful choirs!).

    3.4/5
     
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  5. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I've come to like the True Colours remix a lot. It's more compressed but not like the 2007 remix/remasters were. The Finn Brothers sound like the Finn Brothers, I don't think they did on the original. I just heard lead vocal and extremely generic sounding, colourless harmonies. I also like hearing Crombie in there, it feels wilder and more "Split Enz". Whereas David Tickle's mix was probably more commercial and conventional New Wave, this sounds more like the real thing.

    I agree, though that Time And Tide doesn't really need one. Regarding the "stereo widening'you talk about on CD, . I think some songs from needledrop are better, some on the CD are better.
     
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  6. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    ENZO

    I think I have a copy of this, but whether or not I do I've never really played it. It's a good idea, and in general I like seeing music presented in new contexts.

    I'm not going to break up my answer track by track, but I'll give a stream of consciousness response to it.

    The start of 'Poor Boy' is dramatic, but it settles down nicely when the vocals and melody come in. Dave Dobbyn is a very good choice for vocals on this version. The classical flourishes are there. I've read some opinions already posted and see the opinions that the project is a bit overdone. I can see that, but it isn't intrusive to me. The electric guitar (I presume) sounded a bit out of place. I would like the vocal further forward in the mix. Hmmm.... ratatat snares and male voice choir - perhaps this could be more subtle but it's OK for me.

    'Message to my Girl' (will I fall into track by track mode) has a melody and piano figure that seems made for the orchestral approach. Are those early backing vocals real choir? They sound a bit artificial to me. Neil's vocal is lovely of course. I'm not sure about all aspects of the arrangement. There are some notes that stick out a bit. And, the climax sounds a bit over-done with the percussion etc. I think that perhaps a more stripped back arrangement could have worked better.

    'I Hope I Never'. Somehow this Enz song has never been the classic for me that it has for other people. This starts with (presumably Eddie's) piano. Annie Crummer is a great vocalist, so I have high hopes for this. And Crummer doesn't disappoint with her much lower-key vocal making the song sound less 'strained' than Tim's original vocal makes it sound to me. But, I find Crummer a bit hidden by the big orchestral arrangement. I think I would have preferred to hear this with just Crummer's vocal and piano.

    'Strait Ol' Line' is a less obvious choice for an orchestral arrangement. I wouldn't have recognised the song from the introduction at all. And even when Neil starts singing, it sounds like a different song. It's an interesting experiment to hear this song done with an orchestra. And, it's interesting to hear it. But, somehow I'm not convinced. Neil's vocal sounds a bit tentative, but gets more convincing later on. This seems an entirely random place to insert a Noel Crombie spoons solo. Though, giving Noel the chance to sing the bit at the end works. I guess that's Noel; I can't find the

    'Stuff and Nonsense' is an easy choice for this. I've always thought this a better song than 'I Hope I Never'. I'm not sure why Neil sings it, but the change of vocalist introduces more variation and more 'newness' for this version. Neil sings it really well. Though, I think that the big crescendo is rather overdone.

    'Albert of India'. I've always felt this was a very good instrumental which seems a bit ignored in Split Enz history. I've always thought that Waita was and is a very good follow-up to True Colours which missed for reasons I think have nothing to do with the music. However, this track isn't on Bandcamp.

    'My Mistake'. This is a good choice but the arrangement is a bit overdone and Dobbyn's vocal is a bit drowned out.

    'Voices'. Good to see Eddie not just going for the hits. Nice intro with just Neil's vocal and piano, or pianos(?). Not as overdone as some tracks, but more lead vocal please. Piano solo is perhaps a bit gimmicky.

    'I See Red'. This is perhaps the most adventurous arrangement on the album. It takes the song through a number of styles from ballad to perhaps music hall to who knows what I would call that. It's an interesting experiment. But, something I probably want to listen to rarely. Some parts sound a bit 'Flight of the Bumblebee'.

    'Under the Wheel'. Here is the musical drama yet again, but this does fit more with the early Enz I think. I wonder why Phil pulled out of the project. The vocals are fine however. Eventually the track builds and it does become a bit much.

    'Dirty Creature'. Definitely an orchestral arrangement of this song, which is matched to a vocal sounding fairly close to the original. Is this the last time we hear Tim sounding not too different from what he sounded like at his peak? He was sounding quite gruff three years later for 'Say It Is So'. Eventually the orchestral arrangement goes on a bit too long for me.

    'Stranger than Fiction/Time for a Change'. This starts with a solo violin (I presume). And, this points out to me how infrequently I've heard solo orchestral instruments in these arrangements. Then there's a wind instrument (oboe?). But, then the full orchestra crashes in and we're back where we were. However, the song goes through its sections and vocalists, and it reminds me how good these initial songs were. A good way to end. Solo flute (ish). More solo instruments would have helped.

    Overall

    I do like hearing something different done with songs, and for all my criticisms above, I think the project is net positive. I haven't listened to it a lot in the past, and this is unlikely to change. But, this is the kind of album that can be played occasionally and enjoyed.

    I don't feel that I want to give it a numerical rating, as I'm not sure how.

    (My post veers wildly off-topic here).

    My foreign language skills are in a state of flux. I am learning Indonesian, and I've found the modern internet world amazingly helpful for that. After six months I feel that I'm getting good.

    But, learning Indonesian has severely affected my ability to speak Japanese. When I try and speak Japanese I start using Indonesian words and grammar, and it's very difficult. I can still read and understand fine, but speaking is currently problematic. I'm already planning an assault on this to get back into being able to speak it - because it's likely I will need this in March.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
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  7. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Regarding languages.

    I think it just takes neverending practice.
    You don't use it, you lose it. My whole career is based on this. :)

    And that includes second languages when learning a third. Really common for there to be some confusing moments like that.
     
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  8. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I gotta say going from English to Japanese to Indonesian must be a real head spinner. At least with most European languages you can usually find some common words or roots or whatever and the more you know the easier it gets. And most of them use the same alphabet.

    I suggest Navajo for you next.
     
  9. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    I'm aware that this is way off-topic, but it is Lance that I'm replying to. :D

    One of the big problems I have is the different grammar. I speak Japanese and I stop (e.g.) expecting to put a negative into the sentence, but in Japanese that's going to happen at the end of the sentence. This is on top of simply using the words from the wrong language.

    I've only been to the Czech Republic once, but I found that a lot of people there spoke English very well indeed.

    The Prague Honest Guide on Youtube - if I didn't know he was Czech I probably wouldn't notice that he's not a native speaker. While knowing he's Czech I can hear some bits of accent. But, perhaps if I wasn't primed to listen out, I would think those pronunciation quirks would be within the normal range of speech for native speakers.



    I have wondered what it's like teaching English in Czechia where so many people speak English so well. Or, is it very different outside Prague?

    Indonesian just uses the standard Roman alphabet, without any additional letters as happens in many European languages. That makes things easier.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
  10. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    It is very different outside of the center of Prague. Czech has one of the lowest levels of English in the EU — only Spain, France and Italy are worse.

    Netflix and YouTube are changing things very rapidly amd noticeably though. Another ten years and i think that the business will shift almost entirely to kids and “maintenance lessons.”

    But they are good in Prague because there are lots and lots of foreigners there and there are literally thousands of English teachers there, over a hundred private language schools and lots of freelance teachers.

    Most of them suck, but students learn despite bad teachers, I find.
     
  11. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    I think it's intellectually interesting that Marmaduke Duke, sort-of an offshoot of Biffy Clyro, have covered 'Fall At Your Feet'. As it's nice to see a band which might just still qualify as current and cool covering CH.

    But, I would say that this is ... only an OK cover.

     
  12. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    ENZSO

    It's been a long while since I listened to this album, so it was interesting to hear it again now. I played it a lot when it was new, but at some point in time I must have decided that the album was more of a curiosity and that none of the orchestral versions came anywhere close to matching the original versions. This time, though, I listened to the album in a different way. Rather seeing it as some kind of competition between the ENZSO versions and the original versions, I tried to imagine what it might have been like if one went to one of the ENZSO concerts back in 1996/97 and heard them in a concert hall/theatre setting.

    "Poor Boy" is a strong opener and it's interesting to hear Dave Dobbyn sing it. He adds a lot of character to the song with his very committed singing and the orchestral arrangement suits the song.

    To my ears, "Message To My Girl" brings the energy level down, it sounds a bit bland and lacklustre. I think if I was at an ENZSO concert, I would become a bit distracted and starting flipping through the concert programme and looking at the photos in it and perhaps reading an interview with someone involved and then find myself looking back up at the stage halfway through the song, "right, I'm here to pay attention to the concert". The added lyrics towards the end is a surprise though.

    "I Hope I Never" is better. Annie Crummer is a fine singer and I think this arrangement makes the song more interesting. I am not that crazy about the original version, it has to be said, but perhaps this Annie Crummer sung version is how I'd like to hear the song.

    "Strait Old Line" is quite similar to the latter-day live versions, with the piano/spoons extract from "The Woman Who Loves You" being a natural part of it. Visually, I imagine it must have been quite special to see Noel play the spoons in front of a full symphony orchestra. The whole ENZSO version has a very wide-screen, cinematic feel to it and Neil's singing is great.

    It's very interesting to hear Neil sing "Stuff and Nonsense". Given that the original version is such a magnificent version partly thanks to the minimalist instrumentation and Tim's heartfelt, almost raw, vocals, the ENZSO version comes across as being close to too bombastic, but I really like Neil's "ah ah" just before the choir joins in. Nothing beats the original version and while the ENZSO version doesn't even come close - part of that is in fact Neil's singing which sounds technically fine but doesn't have the same emotion as Tim's singing on Frenzy - it is still a very very good version. (Hearing the choir on this version it makes me think that an a capella version sung by Spinifex Gum could be a real treat)

    The original version of "Albert of India" has always sounded like a perfectly harmless and bland B side that somehow sneaked its way onto the album, but I think it sounds much better in this ENZSO version. This is how it should have sounded all the time. I am glad we got to hear this version.

    Dave Dobbyn again puts in a lot of heart and soul into singing "My Mistake" and it's quite a fun version with a real circus feel to it. Very good arrangement. It's interesting to hear Neil's backing vocals towards the end and compare his 1996/97 vocals skills to his 1977 vocals skills.

    "Voices" is a bit of a filler here. Part of ENZSO's charm and relevance is that we get to hear the songs with very different instrumentation, but this is ultimately not that different to how it sounded on See Ya 'Round and therefore less interesting to my ears.

    If I was at the concert, I'd be really surprised by the next song and try to figure out which song this might be. Before Tim starts to sing, I wouldn't be able to guess. I like that it is so totally different to the original and really slowed down. I wish it had stayed that way, when the tempo increases it loses some of its uniqueness, though the manic strings give the song a carnival feel which is surprising and fun. As a whole, this is definitely an album highlight.

    "Under The Wheel" is another top notch track. Sam Hunt's almost spoken vocals adds drama to a song that was quite theatrical and nightmare-ish to begin with. There are lots of details and nuances in the complex arrangement and I keep hearing new things every time I hear this version.

    Hearing "Dirty Creature" inserted between "Under The Wheel" and "Stranger Than Fiction" sounds entirely natural in this ENZSO setting. I think the album as a whole raised its game after "Voices" and each track in the second half keeps building the album's intensity. Much has been said and written about Tim's voice struggling in the late '90s, but it sounds fine here and as always his singing adds unique character to any song that he sings. Great orchestral performance on this one too.

    "Stranger Than Fiction" is such a mysterious, nightmare-ish song and always a treat to hear in any shape or form. It's no surprise to hear how well it works with a full symphony orchestra. Very cinematic. Good to hear Neil being a part of a version of this song and sharing the vocals with Tim and Sam Hunt.

    "Time For A Change" is, as ever, almost other-worldly magnificent and a great closing track, Superb singing by Tim and the instrumental ending is excellent in this setting too.

    I find ENZSO to be an album that works best when listening to it in headphones late at night, much better than listening to it on the stereo in broad daylight. The album is full of rich and complex arrangements and there are lots of things to discover. I envy all those who got to experience ENZO in concert, it must have been an amazing experience.
    One thing I'd like to hear is Split Enz songs as performed by a string quartet plus singers, I think that could be fabulous.

    The ENZSO album gets 4/5 from me.
     
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  13. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Well I intended to listen to ENZSO again before commenting but I've spent a fiendishly terrible amount of time driving all over the place this week and haven't managed it. So, I'm gonna go by memory but not score it.

    I normally love orchestral music and so ENZSO is full of promise for me. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it delivers. One of the issues I seem to have with it, is that its a bit too much. I think it's a bit single paced, or at least that's my memory of listening to it, and I tend to tune out after a while. Also I think some of the orchestrations are a bit overdone. Obviously some of the songs lend themselves easily to orchestration - Time for a Change and Stranger than Fiction for instance. I quite like My Mistake in that the music hall aspects of it are really played up, but mostly I feel like most of the songs were arranged to a formula - slow down the tempo, add some lush orchestration with everything thrown at it. I would have liked to hear some more adventurous arranging and sounds - maybe more percussive elements and fewer strings. To my mind I would have preferred to hear Enz songs reformulated using more avant-garde orchestration. (What comes to mind as a more fitting style might be instrumentation or approach similar to "Exotica Suite" by the David Chesworth Ensemble)

    This is a CD I only recently acquired although I'd somehow heard the entire album previously. It's not an easy album for me to settle down and listen to and for this reason it does not rank among my favorite Enz related albums.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for for ENZSO:

    1-0
    2-0
    3-1
    4-3
    5-0
    Average: 3.725
     
  15. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    This week, two fan club albums, both by The Finn Brothers.
    • Belvoir February 19th, 1996 Finn Brothers
    • Eyes Of The World, 1996, Finn Brothers
     
  16. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Belvoir, was recorded on February 19th at the Belvoir Ampitheatre in Perth, Australia.

    This was on the first part of the world tour that the Finn Brothers undertook in early 1996 to promote Finn, which had been released Down Under and in the UK in October 1995; I believe the tour was somewhat delayed due to Tim having broken or seriously sprained his ankle during a tennis match with Neil. (I guess Neil won the match.) The album had peaked at #14 in Australia.

    This tour, which had begun in November 1995 and had lasted until the northern summer of 1996 in the US, immediately preceded the release of Recurring Dream compilation album by Crowded House and the Peter Jones Crowded House's promotional tour of the UK during which Neil announced that Crowded House was breaking up. It includes a brief embyronic version of Neil's "King Tide" from Try Whistling This.

    The album was released on February 20th, 2005. The traclist was:
    1. In Love with It All (Neil Finn, Tim Finn)
    2. Angel's Heap (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    3. Suffer Never (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    4. What's the Matter with You? (N. Finn)
    5. Kiss the Road of Raratonga (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    6. Time for a Change (Phillip Judd)
    7. Four Seasons in One Day (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    8. There Goes God/Amy (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    9. Six Months in a Leaky Boat (T. Finn, Split Enz)
    10. Mood Swinging Man (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    11. Poor Boy (T. Finn)
    12. Where is My Soul (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    13. Only Talking Sense (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    14. Tall Trees/Dirty Creature (N. Finn, T. Finn/N. Finn, T.Finn, Nigel Griggs)
    15. Eyes of The World (N. Finn, T. Finn)
    Line Up:
    Neil Finn: vocals, guitars, piano
    Tim Finn: vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, drums

    There seems to be an additional bassist on some songs, unless they've somehow rigged Neil's electric guitar's lower strings to sound like a bass, which I guess is possible.
    I haven't heard it for a couple of years, maybe one of you can enlighten me as to who it is?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
  17. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Teh second album this week is Eyes Of The World, by The Finn Brothers.
    Unlike Belvoir, Eyes of The World was not recorded at one concert, but at many in Australia, the UK, and the USA between November 1995 and July 1996. In includes an embryonic version of "King Tide", taggeda t the end of a piano version of "History Never Repeats."

    It was released in 1998. The traclist was:
    1. Poor Boy (Tim Finn)Chicago, July 12, 1996
    2. Dirty Creature (Neil Finn, T. Finn, Nigel Griggs) Los Angeles, USA July 17, 1996
    3. In Love with It All (N. Finn, T. Finn) London, November 16, 1995
    4. Angel's Heap (N. Finn, T. Finn) London,November 16, 1995
    5. There Goes God (N. Finn, T. Finn) London,November 16, 1995
    6. Kiss the Road of Raratonga (N. Finn, T. Finn) Glasgow,November 13, 1995
    7. How Will You Go (N. Finn, T. Finn) Glasgow, November 13, 1995
    8. Weather With You (N. Finn, T. Finn) Glasgow, November 13, 1995
    9. Sweet Dreams (Phillip Judd) Los Angeles, July 17, 1996
    10. Persuasion (T. Finn, Richard Thompson)London, November 16, 1995
    11. History Never Repeats /King Tide (N. Finn) London,November 16, 1995
    12. Last Day Of June (N. Finn) Chicago, July 12, 1996
    13. Message to My Girl(N. Finn, T. Finn) Chicago,July 12, 1996
    14. Charlie/Release Me (T. Finn/Eddie Miller, James Pebworth, Robert Yount) London,November 15, 1995
    15. Eyes of the World (N. Finn, T. Finn) Newcastle, Australia on February 20, 1996
    16. It's Only Natural (N. Finn, T. Finn) Newcastle, Australia February 20, 1996
    Line Up:
    Neil Finn: vocals, guitars, piano
    Tim Finn: vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, drums


    Thanks to @Paul H for the most of this information.
     
  18. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Dave Gent or Gantbor Ghent on bass guitar.
     
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  19. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Paul Jeffries plays piano on “where is my soul” And “only talking sense”; Neil plays drums on “six months in a leaky boat”.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
  20. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Belvoir is the first concert The Finn Brothers did after a six week holiday for Christmas/Tim's broken or sprained ankle (which they acknowledge in a funny bit at one point.) The show starts off a little sluggish and ragged, Tim's voice is adequate but much weaker than Neil's by this point, but somehow they soldier through in good spirits and by the end of the show they definitely have me. I think the best songs are the songs done either with just the two of them on guitar or with the full four-piece (Neil: guitar, Paul Jeffries: piano, Dave Gent: bass, Tim: drums/bongos). Those songs really work well.

    I also actually quite like the "psychedelic power trio" of "Suffer Never"-- Tim is never going to be accounted for as one of the great drummers in rock, but there's something about the groove he came up with in that song and the way it locks in with the bass live actually really enhances the song in my opinion.

    Neil's drumming on "Six Months" sounds like Neil's drumming on every song, I think that he became much better by the Pajama Club days, but he does have a really good and distinctive snare tone.

    Tim's higher notes in his full voice sound really ragged here, but I admire the way they just keep going through it until you don't care any more (and it works) and the vocal harmonies somehow remain as esquisite and perfectly executed as they'd ever been.

    Overall I'd give this a 4.5, it definitely gets going later on: highlights for me: "Suffer Never", "Where Is My Soul" and the should-be classic "Only Talking Sense." It also gets extra decimal points for being a full show and not a "best of tour" that we mainly get from Finn Brother and Neil Finn fan club releases.
     
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  21. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    I find it hard not to judge the two Finn Bros fan club CDs for what they aren't, rather than what they are. Of course, they're documents of a tour undertaken in a specific, deliberate way: low key and lo-fi aimed at offering a very personal and intimate reading of their joint catalogue. It's wonderful that this was documented and, of course, wonderful that they did it at all. And if I'd been able to attend one of these shows, I'd probably treasure these discs much more. As it is, I find myself wishing that I could listen to full band arrangements, such as those the brothers used on their later Everyone is Here tour.

    These albums are rough in spots and, while they do have their own innate charm, they're not something I find myself wanting to return to. That's mainly because I don't have much listening time, so I just want something "easy" to give me a pleasure hit. These albums need to be heard in full and I just don't have the time or energy to invest in them. I'm pleased to have these albums (and hope one day to be able to give them the time they need) but in truth, these act really just to have as archives in the collection at the moment.
     
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  22. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Eyes of the World

    I hadn't listened to this fan club CD for a long while, but remembered it as being really good. Looking at the info on the back sleeve, it is clear the songs were taken from many different shows, in different cities and countries at three different continents and from different years. So not really a live CD in my opinion - would it really be as good as I remembered it to be?
    Having now listened to it again I'll definitely say, yes, it's a fabulous CD in every way, from start to finish. It has an excellent track selection of Split Enz songs, Finn Brothers songs, Crowded House songs and a Tim song. With (in most cases) just acoustic guitar, piano and the occasional drums, the brothers' vocal harmonies really shine and each version is of 5/5 quality to my ears. I like Tim's seemingly spontaneous comment after "Message To My Girl" - "****, that was good!" - which sums up my impression too.
    As the CD was recorded at so many different shows it is hard to know if this track selection is representative of the set lists on the 1995/96 tour or not. I suspect a typical gig on that tour included a few more tracks from the then-new duo album. Wish I had been to one of the shows on that tour.

    This fan club CD easily gets 5++/5 from me.
     
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  23. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    some kind of promo documentary for Harper Finn.

     
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  24. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    I won't be able to really focus on these albums, but I will write some comments while I listen while I work.

    Belvoir

    This has a nice intimate sound, and I think it works with the limited instrumentation. I've only seen the Finn Brothers twice. Once was at the Regent's Park gig for the Everyone is Here tour, and the other in I think a church in London for the 1996-ish tour with Dave Dobbyn as support. This recording reminds me a lot of that concert. Though, my memory is limited as should be obvious from me not remembering the venue!

    It starts off nice and acoustic for ILWiA and AH, before changing mode considerably for a convincing performance of 'Suffer Never'.

    I'm still not sure about starting with ILWiA, but the concert certainly gets going after that. 'What's the Matter With You' is a looser, live, feel. Particularly the vocals perhaps sound a bit unrehearsed, but this isn't a problem for me. But, the song retains its enjoyability.

    Nice banter when Neil doesn't want to get on with it.

    Onto 'Kiss the Road...'. After the acoustic introduction they want to rock out a bit and it works. No 'Niwhai' however. It would have prolonged

    'Time for a Change' - such a sophisticated song for that long ago. The white grand piano sounds good. Tim's voice not quite what it was but still sounding good.

    Oh, first date of the tour. That explains some things. But, the slightly unpracticed (perhaps a fair bit unpracticed) feel gives the concert its own personality.

    Once we get onto 'Four Seasons' things sound more practiced - as of course Neil will have performed that song a lot.

    I like Tim's improvisation along with the drums - this is what I like to hear at a concert - something (presumably) spontaneous and off the cuff. Great way to fill in the gap.

    'Six Months...' Certainly the least formal version of this song I've heard. Bit short, but we get the idea. Onwards into 'Mood Swinging Man', with the recognisable keyboard and rhythm. Any of that from a tape or live? I guess the rhythm is taped but the rest not? It's nice to hear this song, but perhaps the loose feel doesn't suit this as much as other songs.

    On the other hand 'Poor Boy' does suit this feel done the way it is. Tim's vocal is perhaps a bit too loose however. Good though, I like hearing this version and the brothers singing in (not too tight) harmony and the wordless vocal bit. Like Tim's new wordless vocal at the end. Oh, it's not the end, there's still minutes to go.

    Generally the banter is continuing and it all sounds nice. Even the way that they introduce other musicians has a feel of an informal jam session more than a slick professional concert. Which works, I think.

    In Dirty Creature I heard Tim hitting some high notes that are but a memory now.

    'Eyes of the World' is a good song to finish on (the CD if not the concert as well). Neil sings well and the playing is more focussed. The song appears to finish and then like some other songs it goes into a more improvisatory section.

    And, I get to the end....

    Overall this is an interesting album on the Finn brothers tour. I would have seen them later. I can't remember exactly how informal the concert I saw was, but it was at least a bit informal. But, I guess not as much as this.

    It's good to hear them having fun with the songs and the banter, and perhaps not worrying about making an epic live arrangement. It's fun. Maybe if I had bought this CD full price as an official release then I would have had different expectations. But, as a fan club CD, this is the kind of thing that I want to hear.

    4/5

    Harper Finn dances much better than his father ever did :D

    More seriously - it's good to hear how deeply he is getting into making music and hearing about his learning process.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2022
  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I think most of it is taped except for acoustic guitars, this came up when we were discussing the album proper. It's all optigon samples on the original record and I guess they just have the backing track playing.
     

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