In his new series on Fangradio, Neil Finn is taking a look back at each Crowded House album and unpacking the tracks that made the band such a household name. Joined by long-standing colleague Nick Seymour as well as new band members Mitchell Froom and Finn’s two sons Liam and Elroy, the weekly live broadcast aims to dive into the archives and give fans a deeper insight into the makings of each album in celebration of the new one Dreamers Are Waiting dropping this year.
To start us off, the group jump straight into Crowded House’s 1988 sophomore record Temple of Low Men. A darker follow-up to their successful self-titled debut, the album received mixed reviews which Finn can’t help but reflect on. Remembering a sour review the band received that claimed they were “wallowing in self-pity”, Finn simply disagrees and instead believes the band were just figuring themselves out at the time and trying to step into new terrain. “Also, f**k you” he quickly retorts.
Moving through the album track by track, Finn performs an acoustic version of each and adds his own rendition. From the opening ‘I Feel Possessed’ that sees Finn admit to Froom that he “had to learn that piano part, it’s very spooky”, to the grungy ‘Mansion In The Slums’ that was thought up as Finn was taking a walk amongst the sycamore trees behind his house, the group all share their fond memories of making each tune and their favourite parts of each one.
A debate soon comes though when it’s time to play ‘When You Come’, a track that, for most of its lifecycle, the group thought was about sex. “I don’t know if I like this song now that I know you all think that,” Finn remarks. “It’s about the birth of the cosmos and when powerful and supernatural things come at you in life,” he continues. Everyone’s sceptical but accept it. “Well, it’s certainly fun to play live,” Seymour laughs.
After his rendition of ‘When You Come’, Finn transports into a meditative experience. With the accompanying sound of a babbling brook, the star starts smoothly talking about willow trees and compares them to Temple of Low Men. “That was the first instalment of ‘Neil’s Tree Reviews’”, he laughs. “As you know I have an affinity for nature. The two reliable things we have in this world are nature and music.”
Then we’re onto the second half of the album, featuring ‘Sister Madly’, a track inspired by the nightmares Finn watched his sister have as he shared a room with her when he was young, the “slightly apocalyptic feeling” ‘In The Lowlands’ that Froom believes to be Morrissey inspired and the classic fan-favourite ‘Better Be Home Soon.’
Finn wraps things up by touching on the weather in Auckland today (overcast, but he’s sure some people have still found their way to the beach) and thanking his son Liam for helping him bring the songs to life again. “Set your alarms,” he reminds us listeners. “We’ll be back next week!”
Tune in to Crowded House: Album by Album on Fangradio every Thursday at 11 AM for Finn’s live broadcast.