Paul H posted:
Interesting that we all hear the same things differently. Time on Earth was, of course, a solo album (albeit with Nick on bass) until it had been completed, at which point Neil decided to reform the band. At that point, it made no sense to have CH touring a solo album and so it was badged as the CH record it never was (by way of token gesture, they recorded four new tracks for it but even so, musically it remains a solo album). And, to me, it sounds much more like a Neil album than a CH one, in terms of songwriting and also in terms of sound.
I think the component you're leaving out, is why Neil decided to reform the band. It wasn't a coincidence that he was recording with Nick at the time. As I remember it from interviews back then, after recording an album with Nick, both of them, and Ethan Johns and others felt like the music they were making sounded an awful lot like Crowded House...I specifically recall a Neil quote to the effect of "I kind of gave in and admitted to what we were all feeling, that it felt like Crowded House"...and he took it as an indication the time was right to get the band back together.
At least that's how I've remembered it all these years, that making music with Nick not only rekindled their friendship and put them on the road to reforming the band from a personal standpoint, but also the music they made together felt/sounded to them like Crowded House. Not that I'm saying you can't hear the music another way. I guess we're both disagreeing with Neil in different ways. (you really don't hear Nobody Wants To as being incredibly Crowded House-like?)
Every non-CH album Neil has put out contains at least a few tracks I really like. But for me only Try Whistling This comes anywhere close to being as successful -- as an album of music -- as the first four CH albums. I don't see it as a coincidence that it came right after their break-up. I believe he was still riding a wave of creativity from the band but focusing it in different directions.
Maybe it has less to do with the band, and more to do with the fact that Neil's peak as an artist (in my opinion) was 1986-1998 or so, and he just happened to be mostly recording with Crowded House during that time.