C4-93559 Woodface
Produced by Mitchell Froom and Neil Finn
Released on July 2, 1991
UK CHART POSITION #34 (RE-CHARTED #6 in 1993) . . . US CHART POSITION #83
Find it at GEMM
C4-93559 cover  

B eautiful Butterfly Stomper No. 9, stamping out lazy criticism since 1970, at your service. Let us begin with the basics. Sounds like The Beatles. Stompa stompa stompa. The Byrds. Stompa stompa samore. Split Enz. Stompa-notsofast. Tim Finn joined brother Neil’s band for Woodface, a happy anti-enzing for everyone in the ponce de leonly hearts club band. So is this an overcrowded home or a house divided? Neither. Nor is it a Split Enz the Second unless you see the original Crowded House that way. Stompa stompa. Woodface clearly takes after Neil’s side of the family; Tim is simply the salt that sweetens. His harmonies and songwriting (stemming from aborted sessions) are the crown moulding, but it’s Neil (and the original Froomula) that form the foundation. If you want to compare this to something, compare it to the first Crowded House album or better yet to Squeeze’s Play. Released the same year, both Play and Woodface were great works from graying masters. Play was produced by Tony Berg (Michael Penn), Woodface by Mitchell Froom (Sheryl Crow), and so both had that early ‘90s eclectic pop sound that had everyone pointing to The Byrds and The Beatles. A crossroads between the pair (Squeeze, Split Enz) was perhaps inevitable. They wrote some of the most contagious pop in the ‘80s, always a little left of center (the Finns were lefter) with great hooks and a healthy slab of sentiment on the side. You may have dated them for different reasons, but if you loved the one you at least liked the other. When Crowded House appeared on the block, they were farther to the right of the Enz. No loopy synthesizer solos, no tightly wound arrangements. Everything was less hurried, more wide open, and the melodies breathed like never before (“Something So Strong,” “Don’t Dream It’s Over”). They’re still breathing on Woodface: “Weather With You,” “Fall At Your Feet,” “Four Seasons In One Day,” “It’s Only Natural,” “As Sure As I Am.” Only the opening “Chocolate Cake” (an odd choice for the first single) and “Fame Is” sound like the Enz of old. As with the best of albums, each song on here is likely to get under your skin eventually, something I wouldn’t say about their first album. And don’t be scared off by criticism that the songs don’t flow well together. That’s laziness learned from history; because Woodface is fused from different projects, it must sound patched together, right? Stompa stompa stompa. Remember: Who’s Next was a failed opera. Woodface is the most perfectly realized of the Crowded House works (just as No. 10 Upping Street was for BAD) because the two architects (Neil and Tim) share the same vision. If you’re still square with Squeeze these days (Some Fantastic Place, etc.), Woodface is waiting.

C4-93559 picture sleeve
C4-93559 picture sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. CHOCOLATE CAKE    (Neil Finn/Tim Finn)
  2. IT'S ONLY NATURAL    (Neil Finn/Tim Finn)
  3. FALL AT YOUR FEET    (Neil Finn)
  4. TALL TREES    (Neil Finn/Tim Finn)
  5. WEATHER WITH YOU    (Neil Finn/Tim Finn)
  6. WHISPERS AND MOANS    (Neil Finn)
  7. FOUR SEASONS IN ONE DAY    (Neil Finn/Tim Finn)
  8. THERE GOES GOD    (Neil Finn/Tim Finn)
  9. FAME IS    (Neil Finn)
  10. ALL I ASK    (Neil Finn/Tim Finn)
  11. AS SURE AS I AM    (Neil Finn)
  12. ITALIAN PLASTIC    (Paul Hester)
  13. SHE GOES ON    (Neil Finn)
  14. HOW WILL YOU GO    (Neil Finn/Tim Finn)
  15. (Hidden track:) I'M STILL HERE

CREDITS

NEIL FINN -- guitars, vocals and keyboards
TIM FINN -- piano, guitars and vocals
PAUL HESTER -- drums, vocals, keyboards and percussion
NICK SEYMOUR -- bass and vocals, art direction, cover painting
Alex Acuna -- additional percussion
Peter Bucknell -- violin (8)
Jorge Callendrelli -- string arrangement and conductor (10)
Stuart Ellison -- additional keyboards
Ricky Fataar -- drums and percussion (5,8,10)
Sharon Finn -- backing vocals (10)
Mitchell Froom -- keyboards
Geoffrey Hales -- additional percussion
Mark Hart -- additional keyboards
David Hidalgo -- accordion (11)
Jack Mack -- brass
Vince Parsonage -- viola (8)
Chris Wilson -- harmonica (1,4,8)
Tchad Blake -- engineer, overdub engineer
Paul Kosky -- engineer
Bob Clearmountain -- mixing
Tommy Steele -- art direction
Dennis Keeley -- photography
Stephen Walker -- design
Timothy Earnes -- letter construction
Sally Anne Mill, Noel Crombie and Kelly Ray -- invaluable design assistance

return to CROWDED HOUSE discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
WW July 2, 1991 Capitol LP/CD/CS CDP7/C4-93559 lyric sleeve
UK July 2, 1991 Capitol LP/CD/CS EST/CDEST/TCEST-2144  
COL 1991 EMI LP 11001404  
UK 2000 Simply Vinyl LP SVLP-240 180g vinyl
AUSL 2006 EMI 2CD 864236 repackaged w. TOGETHER ALONE

 

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