2nd November 2020
I’ve always been a Crowded House fan since first hearing them and was fortunate enough to see them live at the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg on their South African tour. Being such an avid follower I was saddened when they disbanded in 2005 and overjoyed when they regrouped for two more albums (2007 and 2010). A few days ago I got the heads-up of a new single, ‘Whatever You Want’ and that sparked today’s theme, Ladies & Gentlemen, Crowded House.
Founding members, Neil Finn and Paul Hester were a part of Split Enz who had gained mild success in both Australia and the UK during the mid-70s. When Finn was asked by bassist Nick Seymour to audition for a new group, The Mullanes, in 1985 things looked promising. They had been signed to Capitol Records, but Seymour’s sudden departure saw the new band moving to LA to record the debut album, as well as a name change to Crowded House (a comment on the cramped living and recording conditions)
The band Split Enz had already established a firm fan base in Australia, and the new band used this to help establish themselves. The first single ‘Mean to Me’ from the debut album didn’t gain much attention, but when the second single, ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ became a near-instant international hit, history was made. They followed this with ‘Something So Strong’ .and ‘World Where You Live’, proving themselves as hit-makers.
Neil Finn was under pressure to create a second album and many thought that what might follow would be no more than a mediocre follow-up. ‘Temple of the Low Men’ may not have had the success of their self-titled debut, but the single ‘Better Be Home Soon’ was massive and kept the band’s momentum at full speed.
We’ll start the Crowded House selection for today with that first huge hit, ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over’. 😎
If their first two albums introduced Crowded House to the world, then the follow-ups of ‘Woodface’ and ‘Together Alone’ firmly cemented them as local heroes in New Zealand and Australia, and a favourite around the rest of the planet. Hits such as ‘Fall at Your Feet’, ‘Weather with You’, ‘Distant Sun’ and ‘Not The Girl You Think You Are’ followed one after another and it seemed the band couldn’t put a foot wrong.
In June 1996 the sad news broke that Crowded House would be disbanding. They played several farewell concerts that year, including the Farewell to the World concerts in Melbourne and Sydney. The normal slew of greatest hits and compilation albums appeared and that seemed to be the end of the band. However, the suicide of co-founder Paul Hester in 2005 brought the band back together which resulted in 2007’s ‘Time on Earth’ album and the minor hit ‘Don’t Stop Now’.
The next album to be released was 2010’s ’Intriguer’ which topped the Australian and New Zealand charts and managed to hit #12 in the UK. Neil Finn claims that the album was a departure from their normal sound and contains a lot of twists and turns. I took a listen and although slightly more updated sound-wise, it still has Crowded House’s characteristic cleverness and easy listening feel.
I have decided to return to one of my early favourites for the second track today. Here’s ‘Weather with You’ 😎
Neil and Tim Finn were each awarded an OBE for their contributions to the music of New Zealand and as of 2010 had clocked up sales of 10 million albums worldwide. Deservedly, they were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2016.
After several years of inactivity, Crowded House announced that they are reforming with a new line-up that includes Finn’s sons Liam and Elroy, and had planned a world tour in 2020. Of course, we all know what happened to plans for 2020, so everything is scheduled for 2021.
Now, after 35-years in the business, Crowded House has released a new single I am not sure if this is the signs of a new album to come, but I definitely hope so. I took a listen to the ‘Whatever You Want’ and am happy to say that they haven’t lost any of their magic. It’s a great song with a clever lyric and a pretty funky and very funny music video staring Mac DeMarco to round it off.
I can’t think of a better way to close the door on today’s Crowded House. Here’s ‘Whatever You Want’. 😎
The Loving the Music mini-features are written and compiled by me to support Loving the Music Facebook page and group. Join the community for regular themed three-part posts that do do more than just share a song.
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Words © Andrew Knapp 2020