Crowded House & Tim Finn (1989-1991)

I do like a good what if album and this month, we have two for the price of one. Recently, I gave a couple of Crowded House albums a spin. They were ‘Woodface’ and ‘Afterglow’. I had always read that ‘Woodface’ was a amalgam of Crowded House tracks and songs that main House songwriter, Neil Finn had written with his brother Tim for an album project of their own. The story goes that Tim and Neil Finn were looking to record an album as the Finn Brothers and had written an albums worth of material when Neil said could he use some of the songs for the next Crowded House Record. With Tim saying yes and joining the band, what we got was a great album that had been made out of the ashes of two. So, what if Capitol had not rejected the original version of Woodface and the Finn Brothers had recorded their first collaborative effort as planned? Well, with the wonders of the internet and the bands reissue programmes, we can do just that.  

Crowded House – Woodface (Original Version)

With Woodface, we get an album that does not sound too dissimilar to Temple Of Low Men. I only allowed songs on here that were either written by Paul Hester, the bands drummer or Neil Finn. None of the co-write between Tim and Neil would be allowed. That does mean that most of the singles that were released from ‘Woodface’ would no longer be on here, with only ‘Fall At Your Feet’ left. The album is solid, if not spectacular. It does lack some of the sparkle that came when the tracks form the abandoned ‘Finn’ project were added, but I believe it would have stood up against the other records the band had released up to this point. 

Side A

  1. Anyone Can Tell
  2. Left Hand
  3. Fields Are Full Of Your Kind
  4. As Sure As I Am
  5. Sacred Cow
  6. She Goes On
  7. Italian Plastic

Side B

  1. Fall At Your Feet
  2. Dr. Livingston
  3. Fame Is
  4. I Love You Dawn
  5. Whispers & Moans
  6. My Telly’s Gone Bung
  7. My Legs Are Gone

The cover for this collection is based upon a band T-Shirt that came out at the time. 

The Finn Brothers – Self Titled

On the other hand, we have the Finn Brothers record. What we get are all of the songs that were recorded for Woodface, plus some of the others that had been written for ‘Finn Brothers’ record but not used at the time. That would mean that four out of the five singles from Woodface would be included here, potentially making this a more commercial record. Out of the songs demoed by the Finn’s, two would end up on Tim Finn’s first solo record after leaving Crowded House which was called ‘Before & After’. These would be ‘In Love With It All’ and ‘Strangeness & Calm’. Two more, ‘Prodigal Son’ and ‘Catherine Wheels’ would be released via Neil Finn’s website. Catherine Wheels (which had supposedly been gestating since the late 70s) would be finished and released on the Together Alone album. For the purposes of this what if record, I have gone with the Finn Brothers demo. One more song was demoed by the Finn’s and this was called ‘Cemetery In The Rain’. This last song has not been released anywhere as far as I know, but 12 tracks is enough to come up with an alternative history Finn Brothers album. 

Side A

  1. Chocolate Cake
  2. It’s Only Natural
  3. Tall Trees
  4. Catherine Wheels
  5. There Goes God
  6. Four Season in one Day

Side B

  1. Strangeness & Calm
  2. Weather With You
  3. Prodigal Son
  4. All I Ask
  5. In Love With It All
  6. How Will You Go

It was quite difficult to find a picture of the Finn Brothers for an album cover, but they did appear facing each other whilst playing their guitars from the ‘It’s Only Natural’ video. Adopting the minimal approach of the era remembering that complicated albums sleeve didn’t work in the cassette era, we have a sleeve not too different from Talk Talk’s ‘Spirit Of Eden’. 

A playlist for The Finn Brothers LP could not be complied due to one or more songs not being available on Spotify. 

So what do we get when listening to these. Well, we get two albums, but take off the best songs from each and you get one excellent album. Now, if only the brothers had decided to have started ‘Woodface’ with something other than Chocolate Cake, it would have made for an even better record. 

I have not included ‘I’m Still Here’ as it always sounded out of place to my ears and did nothing to add to the experience of listening to ‘Woodface’. 

I cannot believe that this album is nearly 30 years old. Where has the time gone?

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