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CD Review




Crowded House - Time On Earth
ATO Records
            I have to tell you, one of my favorite moments ever at my mailbox was opening the long yellow business envelope and finding this CD inside. I mean, thanks to being fairly respected at what I do, I often go to my mailbox at the end of my driveway only to find it literally bursting with envelopes containing CDs from unknown bands and legends alike. It's like Christmas every fucking day! Many times this year I have been excited at what I have found betwixt the manilla but nothing has matched the pure joy of having this CD in my hands. Once inside my house, I literally threw everything else onto the kitchen table and raced to the CD player in my office and stuck this little shiny disc inside. Upon hearing the first note Neil Finn sings I was transported back in time to all those great Crowded House albums of the 80's and '90's.
            First formed in Austrailia after Finn had spent time in brother Tim's band Split Enz, Crowded House scored two monster hits right out of the gate from their self-titled debut album. Those songs "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Something So Strong" were huge radio staples back in the mid-80's. The band released several albums after, all fine (especially my fave Crowded House album Woodface with Tim Finn having joined the band for the album and helping with the great songs "Chocolate Cake" and "Weather With You"), but scoring no further hits and the sales numbers waning with each release. After the band's final album Together Alone, the title of which originating with an idea of Neil's where he felt Crowded House's early fans thought the band broke up after scoring their two hits leaving them "together, but alone", Neil Finn began his solo career with which he has had only fair success. After original drummer Paul Hester's death by suicide in 2004, Finn decided to give the band another go, in part to give a tribute to his late bandmate. Instead of just touring with no album to promote, Finn took the tracks he had begun for another solo release and integrated the rest of the band into the process, hiring a drummer to replace Hester about halfway through the recordings.
            Thus, a new Crowded House album and tour.
            Forget all you ever thought about a band reuniting (sometimes just for the money) and putting out a reunion album. This set of songs sounds like the band never left. Picking up right after Together Alone, the band fills this album with the same upbeat, creatively arranged pop they have always been known for. Not that this album is a mere retread. It just sounds like a great pop album Crowded House would make if they were still making great pop albums. The best part is, with the release of this album, they ARE making great pop albums again. My favorite song on the album (and a virtual hit if only radio wasn't so fucking shitty) is the third song on the disc, "She Called Up". It's great mid-tempo pop like their hits from the mid-'80s yet sounds completely different in terms of production so you don't feel like you're listening to some '80's copy band. In fact, if I would change anything on this CD, I would change the production a little. While all the songs are catchy and top-notch, the production seems subdued and I personally would have added some brightness and sparkle to the sound, if that makes sense. Still, this album is all killer and to change any of it would be messing with something that doesn't really need to be messed with, in my opinion.
            Oh man, Crowded House fans are going to love this one. Not just the fact it stands solidly up against their other discs but also because the band is making a renewed attempt to leave it's mark on the music scene. It's rare a band can come back after so many years away and still perform at a top notch level. This year, with reformations of The Police and The Stooges as just two examples, we are seeing a lot of acts try to make themselves relevant again and prove they are still contenders for your hard-earned dollars. Feel confident in dropping filthy lucre on anything Crowded House does. After hearing this album and checking out the band's performance on the Live Earth telecasts, I can see the band being able to call it's own shots as long as its' members want to keep going. While it may be too late for radio scum to hop on the bandwagon due to the ageism prevalent in the medium, great albums are great albums, whether you hear them on the radio or not. And this is a great album. Pick it up. - Scott Homewood



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