Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#665 in the Series) is Crowded House, Woodface
I’ve always loved the Finn brothers, Tim and Neil. To me, the best overall music they produced was in the Split Enz, at least when you look at their music as a complete picture. I never thought I’d say this, especially considering how I adored the Enz, Time and Tide, but the best single album that the brothers ever recorded was Crowded House’s Woodface. Both releases could easily be on my Desert Island Disc listings, that’s how strongly I’ve always felt about them.
I’ve said it more than once on these pages, why aren’t these New Zealanders stars in the States, especially when you look at what they’ve a achieved world-wide?
The Enz did have one hit here, that of course would be “I Got You” from 1980, but it only reached #53 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Crowded House also started off well with the popularity of “Don’t Dream it’s Over” from their 1986 debut. It actually made it all the way up to #2. Unfortunately, they haven’t had a hit like that since. Not that the music didn’t deserve it. There are at least five tracks on this album that could have charted highly.
As I’m guessing you know, Tim wasn’t part of Crowded House from their inception. They released two albums before this without him, the self-titled debut (#12 Peak Position) and 1989’s Temple of Low Men (#40 peak position).
Tim joined them just prior to Woodface (#83 Peak Position) That this album only hit up to #83 just amazes me. I think part of the problem might have been the choice of “Chocolate Cake” as the first single. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy an “American excess” song with the best of them. But not only was it far from being the best radio-friendly cut, I also don’t think that was the best song to connect with the “Members Only” jacket wearing music programmers crowd.
What makes this album great is the strong melodies of the tracks, that combined with some spectacular harmonies between the Finn Brothers. It’s those two things that lead me to calling this their best effort ever. They never sounded better together and never wrote better songs either. Just listen to songs such as “It’s Only Natural,” “Fall At Your Feet,” “Weather With You,” “Whispers and Moans” and especially “Four Seasons In One Day.” Good luck finding five tracks like that on most albums.
I was also partial to Tim’s “All I Ask.” It brought back memories of the Split Enz classic “I Hope I Never.”
Our piece on Woodface is dedicated to the memory of Crowded House drummer Paul Hester.
All songs written by Neil Finn and Tim Finn, except where indicated.
- “Chocolate Cake” – 4:02
- “It’s Only Natural” – 3:32
- “Fall at Your Feet” (N. Finn) – 3:18
- “Tall Trees” – 2:19
- “Weather with You” – 3:44
- “Whispers and Moans” (N. Finn) – 3:39
- “Four Seasons in One Day” – 2:50
- “There Goes God” – 3:50
- “Fame Is” (N. Finn) – 2:23
- “All I Ask” – 3:55
- “As Sure as I Am” (N. Finn) – 2:53
- “Italian Plastic” (Paul Hester) – 3:39
- “She Goes On” (N. Finn) – 3:15
- “How Will You Go” – 3:07
- “I’m Still Here” (Hester) 1:07
- Neil Finn – guitar, vocals, keyboards
- Tim Finn – piano, guitar, vocals
- Paul Hester – drums, vocals, keyboards, percussion
- Nick Seymour – bass guitar, vocals
- Ricky Fataar – drums, percussion tracks 5, 8 & 10
- Chris Wilson – harmonica tracks 1, 4 & 8
- Peter Bucknell – violin “There Goes God”
- Vince Parsonage – viola “There Goes God”
- Alex Acuna – additional percussion
- Geoffrey Hales – additional percussion
- Jack Mack – brass
- David Hidalgo – accordion “As Sure as I Am”
- Jorge Callendrelli – conductor, string arranger “All I Ask”
- Sharon Finn – backing vocals “All I Ask”
- Mitchell Froom – keyboards
- Mark Hart – additional keyboards
- Stuart Ellison – additional keyboards
- Official Crowded House Website
- Official Tim Finn Website
- See our piece on Split Enz, Time and Tide
- Back to the Cool Album Home Page
Listen to a bunch of this album below
Some Live Stuff…