Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Albums for Life: 34: Crowded House: Together Alone

I don't pretend to know what you want, but I offer love...

OK, whilst I'm in poptastic mode, I'll slip this one in.
I followed Crowded House from the off; loved their Beatlesque melancholy, laughed along at their vain attempts to mimic the Monkees. Neil Finn seemed like an articulate troubadour and the band were fine live.
'Woodface' was excellent if a little happy clappy for me.
Then came this moody morsel, my favourite Crowded House album by a country mile. The first 3 albums had been overseen by Mitchell Froom in the States but for this recording the band retreated to a friend's house in Karekare Beach ("the edge of the world, where all the monsters are") in New Zealand and brought in Youth, the ambassador of ambient beats, for production duties. Brother Tim had become a disruptive element and had been turfed out to be replaced by multi instrumentalist Mark Hart whose use particularly of pedal steel added great washes of sound. The band seemed really together and in a happy place, although the sound of the album does seem steeped in a melancholy that was surely informed by the awesome  environment they found themselves in. Heartbreaking to see drummer Paul Hester clowning it up; he seemed such a happy soul, 'Together Alone' an apt signifier of that soul's future retreat into darkness.
For me the title track is the band's finest moment and features a New Zealand Maori choir and log drummers and was co-written by Ngapo 'Bub' Wehi of the Te Waka Huia Cultural Group Choir, who also provide backing vocals on "In My Command" and "Catherine Wheels"
Neil Finn recognized the importance that the recording process had on the band's unity as a time that would be "etched on to our souls". Looking at the two documentary videos at the bottom of the page you can't help but think that all albums should be made this way...
Before that here are 3 tracks from the album, Private Universe, Distant Sun and first up, the sublime title track.


  1. Now you're talking Trev. A brilliant album. As are the majority of Crowded House albums. Seen them on the tour for this album. Awesome live. Distant Sun is one of my all time favourite songs and contains a fantastic Chicken skin moment at 2.27 after the middle 8 where the harmonies collide with the 12 string. Bliss.

    1. There is a chicken skin for me in that song Nick but it's when the 2nd verse kicks in with 'Still so young to travel so far..." Unsure why, it just grabs and squeezes...

  2. I love this one although ironically I thought the production was a little murky in places and missed Mitchel Froom's clean lines.

    Having said that Distant Sun is the best thing they've done

  3. Funny as many find Froome's productions a bit wooly; I love them.
    There's a density of sound on this one that might be heard as murky I guess... I hear sea mist and fog...

  4. Another band I have little other than a passing acquaintance with. Listening to this album I was reminded at times of Squeeze. Not a bad thing!