Neil Finn ‘Try Whistling This’



Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#859 in the Series) is Neil Finn, Try Whistling This

By my inexact and rough estimation of my somewhere near 3000 records, CDs, 8-tracks and cassette tapes, tough as it may be, I would probably rank this my number one. I bought it in 1998 when it came out and I lived in Framingham, MA. and listened to it attentively and intensely and truly believe this is as close to a Lennon/McCartney composition that exists since that duo stopped writing and playing.

I have recommended this to many and will tell you a small sample called me wrong, but I don’t care. It didn’t hurt that I got to see him do this on tour at some small club across from Fenway park in the fall of  98, where in his first date on the tour of Neil and friends featuring special guests, supposed surprise guests, he played with Eddie Vedder and word unfortunately leaked out and there were way too many Pearl Jam fans for anyone’s appetite. It is where I heard one of my favorite lines ever at a show, when the rude crowd did not allow the acoustic and piano set to have its full effect, Neil mentioned, “You over there by the pub, you paid to get in, you are free to leave.”

The first track gets it going and it never stops from there. Every song features some special part, rhythm, pulse, beat, falsetto, hook, all of it everywhere, so that it goes by so fast, you have to listen closely to try and interpret the lyrics, the beat, the music, this is what a brilliant piece should be! If you have never seen Neil live, he likes to take his fan requests by paper airplane and once in Chicago, he played the gorgeously deep “Faster Than Light” for the first and only time on the tour, followed by Split Enz “Message to My Girl” in which he screwed up the latter not the former and said, how could i?

“Try whistling This” the title track and “Addicted” are so gripping, you have to wonder how can someone make the piano the lead instrument in  songs that are so shaped?

I know it can be said of many artist the lyrics to their songs have great meaning and no meaning, sometimes at the same time in the same song, but there are a lot of metaphorical images and simple but clear messages here, that I have to believe some of the stories on this work, as well as later works like Crowded Houses Intriguer, tell of pain, hope and love. Neil did lose close friend and fellow band mate Paul Hester to suicide, but this record was before. Still the songs and the music supersede the need for meaning in the lyrics.

He performed nearly the complete album live in a small venue on David Byrne’s Studio 54, which is available on DVD, and it’s great fun watching the band roll through the tunes, but even more enjoyable to watch them put a live set together and expand on the songs in just the right places and in subtle manner caught only by discerning error. The stretched out vocal on “Truth” , the piano jam on the title song and “addicted” are stellar and stunning.

I love Split Enz, Crowed House,. Tim Finn, but this is a rock record that is intense and beautiful  and it is can be hard to describe why and how it is so good, because it is so good.  What is your number one? This has been mine for a number of years and still is.

– John Driscoll, Chicago, Illinois, USAPlease visit and LIKE our facebook page

Track listing

All songs were written by Neil Finn, except where noted.

  1. “Last One Standing” – 3:04neilfinn98
  2. “Souvenir” – 3:42
  3. “King Tide” (Finn, Robert Moore) – 4:33
  4. “Try Whistling This” (Finn, Jim Moginie) – 4:13
  5. “She Will Have Her Way” – 3:56
  6. “Sinner” (Finn, Marius De Vries) – 4:25
  7. “Twisty Bass” – 5:09
  8. “Loose Tongue” (Finn, Moginie) – 4:12
  9. “Truth” (Finn, Moginie) – 4:03
  10. “Astro” – 3:46
  11. “Dream Date” – 4:51
  12. “Faster Than Light” – 4:23
  13. “Addicted” – 4:22


  • Tony Allen – drums150px-NeilFinn1996
  • Michael Barker – drums, percussion
  • Lyn Buchannan – drums
  • Marius De Vries –keyboards
  • Liam Finn – drums, guitar
  • Mitchell Froom – Hammond
  • Jim Moginie – guitars, bass, omnichord, percussion
  • Robert Moore – bass
  • Sebastian Steinberg – bass
  • Pete Thomas – drums
  • Neil Finn – all other instruments
 Here is most of the album below on a playlist…. 
Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Mariola (28 Jul 2013, 11:53)

    Thanks John for this review. Yes, it is great album from great musician, Neil Finn. Unlike you, I needed 10 years to realise that Try whistling this is masterpiece, so colourfull and deep like almost nothing from CH or him alone. Only Together alone from Crowded House I love more (my best album ever) and Intriguer is somewhere there, next to TWT.

    All best, bliss and bless.
    Mario (croatia)

Leave a Reply

Before you post, please prove you are sentient.

what is 6 + 2?