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Crowded House - Woodface

2010-08-24 08:51
crowded house woodface
Crowded House's third studio album is largely credited with catapulting them to superstardom. Not that Crowded House (1986) and Temple of Low Men (1988) were poor albums by any measure, But Woodface's yield of five enduring singles remains universally crowd pleasing today, some twenty years later.

Strange to think that whereas most great albums are made by a band under strain (in-fighting, 'creative differences', etc.), Woodface was partly borne out of Tim and Neil Finn's reconnecting after many years of estrangement.

Perhaps it's the resulting explosive songwriting collaboration between the Brothers Finn, or the signature production touch of Mitchell Froom (Mr Suzanne Vega to you), or one of those inexplicable 'something clicked' moments in a band's career; Woodface spreads its tight 48 minutes over a generous 14 tracks, the first seven of which offer a masterclass in writing the 3:30 pop song.

Chocolate Cake
, It's Only Natural, Fall At Your Feet, Weather With You, and Four Seasons in One Day make for one hell of a Side A (if such things still existed in 1991, which they didn't). Froom's production style strips away the clutter, but introduces his trademark "rhythmic noise" elements – odd sounds (hear that cow in Chocolate Cake?), jingles and jangles in the corners that add a hard-to-resist quirkiness to already-great pop tunes.And when Tim Finn takes a solo vocal over a lush string arrangement on All I Ask, even Elvis Costello would nod in approval at his sometime collaborator's production chops (Froom and Costello worked together occasionally).

Froom would be a tad more aggressive with the strange and distorted noises on Vega's 99.9°F (1992), but Woodface doesn't abandon the band's sound too much, relying instead on the strength of the songs to keep hold of a listener. Which they do for most of the album.

And then, when the case has already been emphatically made, Woodface delivers its kick in the gut – a remaining four tracks that bring the sun back up from beyond the western horizon. It's a remarkable feat to "pad" an album with melodies and arrangements that most bands would bleed themselves dry for, but listen to fans at live shows sing along to  As Sure As I Am, Italian Plastic, She Goes On and How Will You Go, and you'll have some inkling of an idea how adored the House's music - and in particular this album - is.

Crowded House play in SA:

Grand Arena, Grand West, Cape Town - Western Cape
Tue 26 Oct 10 8:00 PM (Open)

I C C Durban Arena, Durban - Kwazulu-Natal
Thu 28 Oct 10 8:00 PM (Open)

Carnival City, Big Top Arena, Johannesburg And Reef - Gauteng
Fri 29 Oct 10 8:00 PM (Open)
Sat 30 Oct 10 8:00 PM (Open)

Crowded House tour SA in October 2010 (see dates below). So we take a look at 1991's Woodface, a masterclass in writing the 3:30 pop song, and also probably the greatest record ever made by guys from New Zealand.

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Craig 2010-08-23 12:57 PM
...and in spite of the fact that you get decent crowds in PE, they're also not coming here...great! One of my all-time favourite bands!
Herb 2010-08-24 07:52 AM
Hey Craig...I feel your pain neighbour. at least i got to see them last time they were here. Superb band.
Andy 2010-08-24 10:01 AM
Superb band, but Grand West sucks as a venue for this kind of music. I saw Joe Jackson there and wanted to walk out.
Carolyn Pretorius 2010-08-27 09:09 AM
Why Carnival City??? It's so flipping far away from everything!

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