For One Night Only Vol 1 - Crowded House.For One Night Only, Music | Head Chef | May 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm
Bootlegs, ROIO’s (recordings of indeterminate origin), radio shows, unreleased songs, studio outtakes and demos. The world of music offers up more to your average obsessive compulsive collector than is healthy. I’m afflicted with the collector curse, but I manage, just about, to keep it under control. It permeates everything I enjoy and, where music is concerned, it has lead to a fat 53 gigabytes of geeky obsession and counting. It’s rarely an officially released album; no, the more obscure a song the greater a treasure it is and the hunt is endless. I know there are those whose condition is worse than mine. I visit their blogs. They are collectors who need every performance a band ever did no matter what the quality. I draw the line at audience recordings as they’re usually distant and removed from the music itself, plus you get people having a conversation about the price of the venue’s hotdogs in the background. Generally I prefer radio broadcasts or soundboard mixes, although, back in the late 80’s, when record fairs were the main source for stuff like this, I did pay £18 for a double album that sounded like it’d been recorded while the mic was stuck in a jam jar with a bunch of angry wasps. It’s an unlistenable rip off, yet I still have it in my collection and take pride that my (played only once) piece of over-priced crap is quite rare. I know, it makes no sense, there’s little logic involved here, but if you’ve ever got out of bed at midnight to check the end of an Ebay auction you’ll understand.
The internet has opened up collecting rare music and taken it to another level. It’s liberated the recordings from the greedy hands of the bootleggers, and individuals now offer up huge archives of music at what must be a considerable cost to themselves, for free. It’s mainly live stuff and that sits fine with me. A performance that is unlikely to see the light of day, being shared amongst fans. A good music blog quickly removes anything that gets an official release.
One of the things I cherish most about downloading and listening to these recordings, and it may even be my main motivation for seeking them out, is the unexpected gem; the night a band was on incredible form, or the live version of a song that transcends the original recording. A version that existed only once for a lucky audience who witnessed a show where everyone played at the top of their game; something special, memorable, the moment. This is actually what all concerts promise, but only a few actually live up to. So, over the next three or four weeks I’m going to pick some mp3’s that stand out amongst all the stuff I’ve gathered up, and post them here for your listening pleasure.
Today’s offering comes from Crowded House and a limited edition live album that was given away for a short time with their greatest hits. This group will mostly be remembered for the annoying and cheesy single “Weather With You”. It gained the band a huge audience and, of course, they were never the same again. But there was always a darker side to Neil Finn’s songs, a melancholy yearning that never spawned a hit single but is at the heart of his best work. “Hole In The River” is such a song. A bleak examination of his aunt’s suicide that seemed out of place on their debut album, smothered in shiny 80’s production and surrounded by pop songs. In concert, though, this song came into it’s own, and evolved into a version that fulfilled all of its early promise. They were a great live band and I’ve grabbed their concerts whenever I’ve come across them, which also means I’ve got a few versions of this song, but none quite match this one. It starts off almost jokey (is that “Chaka Khan” he’s singing in one part?) and manages to survive some wince inducing out of tune guitar, but it’s at the end that the song transforms itself into something special and, as an angry guitar solo breaks down into single notes, mournful harmonies and new lyrics drift out. It’s fantastic, the best version ever. Or is it? Well that’s the catch isn’t it? What if there’s better one out there - and there will be - just waiting to be found and, more importantly, added to the collection? Like I said, there’s no logic here, or about the same amount of logic that makes men - and it’s always men - spot trains or collect stamps. As a hobby it’s endless and arguably pointless, but I hope you’ll get the gist of what I’m saying after you’ve heard this week’s offering. I’ve included the original version too so, that’s the first thing you’ll hear, then the live version.
Thanks for listening.
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Got an mp3 you need to get off your chest? Email me: [email protected]
I choose that picture for the “Fairwell To The World” and the song about suicide link but the song is not from that album. It from this one, which I’ve grabed form wiki:
“With selected copies of Recurring Dream, a full length special edition live album of Crowded House songs was included. The songs were selected by Split Enz member Nigel Griggs who, according to the album’s sleeve, relates that Finn asked him in passing if he would like to put together the selection for the live album. He advises after briefly accepting, days later, hundreds of cassettes of Crowded House performances arrived for him to make his selections. The mixes featured on the live album are not adjusted at all from the mix from the recording and nothing was adujsted in converting the music to CD so that the performances are exactly as they were originally. Only four of the songs from the live album were on Recurring Dream. This is to provide listeners a different range of Crowded House music and to allow the “fan favourites” not present on the album to be featured, such as “Sister Madly,” “Hole In the River” and “Fingers of Love.” Notably, five of the live album’s songs are all from one concert at The Civic Theater in Newcastle, Australia.”
I should have made that clearer Anyone who shouts Chaka Khan over a funky break in a doomy, death of his aunt song can’t be all bad though?
It’s the beauty of the internet that the story behind that mp3 came out so quickly after you posted it and so many people wanted to hear it and share it. That’s what I’m aiming for with this stuff. I’m really enjoying it and the discipline of getting one together every week
And yeah, the unmixed, raw, limited edition album always wins out over the official, last goodbye, album, in the rules of obsessive collecting and that album, of course wasn’t their last goodbye at all. Probably the first of many farewells. Being in an successful band must be hard to give up though and it must be always at the back of your mind to pick it up again, earn some cash and see the world. I don’t blame em.
I don’t begrudge Crowded House returning for another bite of the cherry though. Neil Finn is one of the finest songwriters in the world, and I don’t think that’s open to debate. His ‘One-Nil’ solo album contains some my favourite Finn songs, including ‘Anytime’, a spritely number about how easy it is to die.
My problem with Crowded House now is that Neil initially knocked it on the head because Paul Hester left. I think Finn believed Hester was as integral to the band as anyone - that he was the heart & soul of what made Crowded House such a peerless live band, and when he left there was little point in it continuing as a unit. Mr. Finn’s decision became even more definitive after Hester’s suicide.
To reform after a 10 year hiatus was a mistake, I think, because there will always be a Hester Crowded House and a post-Hester Crowded House, and the latter will never outshine the former. I also think Neil Finn, in his heart of hearts, believes that too. Perhaps he likes being in a band, and that’s great, but to revive Crowded House as a shadow of itself is just plain wrong.
Still, Mr. Finn remains an absolute legend.
My favourite CH album is ‘Together Alone’ by the way.
Mine too, though I think it’s without Hester, not sure, it is though, a beautiful album.
Hester was still a band member while recording Together Alone but quit after the European leg of the consequent tour that was just about to move on to the States. This always rankled with Nick Seymour because he felt the band were finally going to achieve massive lasting mainstream success (or at least that’s what he said on a ‘Farewell to the World’ DVD xtra).
Anyroad, what are you still doing hanging around Head Chef? Get thee to the pub. I’m going to settle down with the Snooker and hope no-one has any stories to cut.
Oh, they do. Arse.