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Crowded House

Crowded House Together Alone

Crowded House Album Reviews

Breaking up Split Enz after feeling too much pressure to fill his older brother’s shoes, Neil Finn retained drummer Paul Hester from the final Enz lineup and created a more streamlined band. They recruited Australian bass player Nick Seymour (brother of Hunters and Collector’s lead singer Mark), and secured an American record deal. Their career took off with the single ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ from their 1986 debut album reaching number two on the American charts. While they didn’t maintain that level of success in America, their third album Woodface, which included Tim Finn as a band member, established them as a popular band in the UK. The group split after their fourth album, 1993’s almost perfect Together Alone, but reunited for 2007’s Time on Earth, a tribute to the late Hester.

Crowded House follow a mainstream guitar pop/rock template, and Neil Finn has openly acknowledged his love for other pop craftsmen like The Beatles and Elton John. Coupled with Neil Finn’s settled personal life, reflected in his songs, there have always been criticisms of the group being a safe, “dad-rock” band. While there’s certainly some truth in this, I don’t listen to Crowded House for experimentation and boundary pushing, and  the main draw-card has always been Neil Finn’s expertly crafted songs. If you’re a skeptic, at least give Together Alone a chance – Youth’s unorthodox production techniques and the wild New Zealand landscape bring the best out of the band, and parts of the record are rawer and more beautiful than anything else in their catalogue.

While Neil Finn was the creative lynch-pin, writing the large majority of the material, drummer Paul Hester was arguably the soul of Crowded House. His unpredictable antics enlivened the band’s concerts, and they’re a more fun live band than their formal studio records would indicate. Neil Finn went on record as saying: “Paul’s got limitations technically sometimes, but ….. he played my songs very well. He plays a shuffle in the same way I play the guitar. There was a certain chemistry in the band.”

I’ve covered the Split Enz catalogue separately, but I have covered a bunch of Tim and Neil Finn’s other albums on this page. I’ve only covered one of Tim’s solo albums, but I’ve covered most of Neil’s solo projects up to around 2010. As a note, I’ve probably been a little too dismissive of the later work covered on this page – I haven’t been particularly impressed by a Finn album since 2001’s One Nil, but there’s still plenty of strong craftsmanship that dedicated fans will appreciate. 1995’s Finn is my favourite of the albums that the Finn brothers have been involved with outside of Split Enz and Crowded House, and it’s well worth hearing.

Ten Favourite Crowded House Songs

Distant Sun
Don’t Dream It’s Over
Private Universe
Hole In The River (specifically, the live version from the Recurring Dreams bonus disc)
Into Temptation
Fall At Your Feet
Nails In My Feet
Four Seasons in One Day
Catherine Wheels
In My Command

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Crowded House 1986 Album

Crowded House – Crowded House

1986, 7/10. Despite the presence of the timeless ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, it’s the least interesting of Crowded House’s initial albums.

Crowded House Temple of Low Men

Temple of Low Men – Crowded House

1988, 8.5/10. Temple of Low Men doesn’t have as many pop hooks, but it’s a more mature and cohesive than the debut.

Crowded House Woodface

Woodface – Crowded House

1991, 7.5/10. Woodface combines recording sessions from Crowded House and The Finn Brothers, with Tim Finn joining the band.

Crowded House Together Alone

Together Alone – Crowded House

1993, 10/10. Recorded on a remote New Zealand beach, Together Alone captures Crowded House at their most raw and emotional.

Crowded House The Very Best Of Recurring Dream

Recurring Dream – Crowded House

1996. The three new songs on this compilation are poor, but there’s a version with a terrific live bonus disc.

Crowded House Afterglow

Afterglow – Crowded House

1999, 7/10. As an outtakes collection, Afterglow is a surprisingly satisfying compilation.

Crowded House Time on Earth

Time on Earth – Crowded House

2007. 6/10. This tribute to Paul Hester is missing the spark that the drummer bought to Crowded House.

Tim Finn Before & After

Before & After – Time Finn

1993, 7/10. Tim Finn uses a variety of instrumentalists and producers on Before & After, and it feels like a compilation.

Finn Brothers 1995

Finn – Finn Brothers

1995, 8/10. While it’s purposefully low key, Finn delivers some of the brothers’ most solid songwriting.

The Finn Brothers Everyone is Here

Everyone Is Here – Finn Brothers

2004. 5.5/10. The Finn Brothers second album has a smooth, radio friendly sound, and lyrics based around themes of ageing.

Neil Finn Try Whistling This

Try Whistling This – Neil Finn

1998, 6.5/10. For his first solo record Neil Finn made an intentional effort to distance himself from Crowded House.

Neil Finn One Nil

One Nil – Neil Finn

2001, 7.5/10. One Nil reverts to the guitar based approach of Crowded House, even though it’s more personal and subtle.

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