Secret God (Stew) posted:

The first "Crowded House" album was reportedly envisioned, written and recorded as a Neil Finn solo album. 

I really want to get to the bottom of this. I've read nothing over the years to suggest this. I've read Something So Strong more times than any other book. I even went back and re-read the relevant chapters when this idea was first discussed in this thread.

Maybe I just interpreted something Burke said in a particular way and am now blinkered/pre-disposed to interpret it that way every time I read it, but I'd love someone to point me to the information (in Burke or elsewhere) that suggests that their debut was originally intended to be a solo album.

I don’t have a source but I definitely remember reading somewhere that they were initially deciding between a band name or more of a “Neil Finn and the _____” situation, a la Elvis Costello and the Attractions. I see that as a little different from a pure “solo” act though. I think Capitol thought a band name would be more marketable. 

As for “Time On Earth”, I sat in on some of the of the sessions in early and mid 2006 and asked Neil whether it was a solo or band project. He and the others all said they really didn’t know at that point. All that mattered was getting the music down. 

This should be an easier question, how close to the first album did their name change from The Mullanes to Crowded House? They were still calling themselves The Mullanes when they played the live version of Grabbing By The Handful which appears on the Deluxe reissue. I'm not sure when and where that show took place and how much longer they kept that name.

That show was on 16th June 1985. The date's in the Deluxe Edition book.

According to Chris Bourke's book, Something So Strong, the band name was chosen after the album had been recorded in the early months of 1986, and only when they hit the deadline for the album artwork.

Neil Finn and the Tearaways had been suggested. Mitchell Froom was apparently asked to join the band at one point and jokingly said, "Only if we can be Neil Finn and the Losers." Neil found the phrase, Crowded House, while looking through books in a library, but Capitol wasn't keen on it at first.

Jaffaman posted:

The first album was always a band project. It was Capitol who suggested banking on Neil’s name and calling the band “Neil Finn and...”

That's my recollection. My understanding is that Neil was uncertain as to whether they'd really gelled as a band and could consider themselves as one in that sense, not whether they should be a band or a solo act.

It does makes more sense for the "band" to have been tossing up between calling themselves 'Neil Finn and the...' versus a 'Band Name' (as opposed to a legitimate 'Neil Finn' solo record.) I feel like we would have known about this for years otherwise.

I can't remember who started this recent 'band vs solo' discussion, but it was definitely someone who worked with them during the early days. When he was quoted as saying the first album was originally going to be a solo record, perhaps what he meant was that they had planned to use the 'Neil Finn and the...' prefix.

It also makes you wonder if the band prefix would have allowed Neil to utilise more of a floating band membership over the years, closer to the way he's operated since 1997.

Jaffaman posted:

Neil Finn and the Tearaways had been suggested. Mitchell Froom was apparently asked to join the band at one point and jokingly said, "Only if we can be Neil Finn and the Losers." Neil found the phrase, Crowded House, while looking through books in a library, but Capitol wasn't keen on it at first.

That's fascinating. Love hearing about little bits of history.

Interesting to hear that at one point Mitchell Froom was a genuine chance to join the band. Until Mark Hart became a fully-fledged band member, Froom, Eddie Rayner and Tim Finn all played that "floating 4th member" role to some extent.

If the 'Neil Finn and the...' prefix was used it could have, in theory, made it a bit easier for him to switch members in and out, depending on the feel and sounds he was going for at the time. Just theorising though.

Jaffaman posted:

As for “Time On Earth”, I sat in on some of the of the sessions in early and mid 2006 and asked Neil whether it was a solo or band project. He and the others all said they really didn’t know at that point. All that mattered was getting the music down. 

I find this remarkable. Neil and Nick are working together in a studio and they're musing on whether or not this is a CH project without poor old Mark being anywhere in sight. Perhaps you'd say I was talking out of turn, Jeremy, but it seems from here that Neil really does have very little respect for Mark's place in CH.

It seems self-evident given that Neil is happy to consider ALL the tracks on Time on Earth to be band tracks even though only two members of the band are on most of them.

Indeed you did but which other band might that be, given that we're talking Neil Finn and Nick Seymour? I think pretty much anyone would consider a "band" project involving those two to be Crowded House. And given that said project eventually was issued under that name, I can't believe they were considering a different project. 

Regardless, as I noted, it seems that Neil was quite happy to issue a set of songs as Crowded House songs even though Mark wasn't on any of them. It's one thing for a member to not be on a song or two if the arrangement doesn't require his/her input, but this isn't a similar situation. Obviously, Mark is happy enough about it (or, at least, resigned to being treated this way).

Paul H posted:

Indeed you did but which other band might that be, given that we're talking Neil Finn and Nick Seymour? I think pretty much anyone would consider a "band" project involving those two to be Crowded House. And given that said project eventually was issued under that name, I can't believe they were considering a different project. 

 

Well I would consider it to be Crowded House yes ! 

Is this not what the whole argument has been about ?!

Understood, Jeremy. But this news does leave me rather baffled. If it wasn't definitely thought of as a Neil solo album what on earth else might it have been considered as? Surely Neil went into the studio with a set of songs to make his next album... As I say, If not, what else?? Don't tell me Nick was the original second member of Pajama Club! 

Paul H posted:. 

Regardless, as I noted, it seems that Neil was quite happy to issue a set of songs as Crowded House songs even though Mark wasn't on any of them. It's one thing for a member to not be on a song or two if the arrangement doesn't require his/her input, but this isn't a similar situation. Obviously, Mark is happy enough about it (or, at least, resigned to being treated this way).

I feel like you’re imposing a rigid personal rule about what a band is, in a creative/artistic space where there are few rules to begin with.

@Paul H, the 2005-2006 sessions were the first main project Neil worked on following Paul Hester's death, and I think having Nick back playing bass was mainly about the two reacquainting themselves with one another.

Unlike @Jaffaman I obviously wasn't present in the recording sessions or anything like that, but I do remember a TV interview from 2006, featuring both Neil and Nick, where they talked about how good it felt to be working together again.

When pressed about what the batch of songs would be released as, no straight answer was given. Neil did mention something about possibly starting another band together. So when Jaffaman referred to a "band" album a few comments ago I knew exactly what he meant.

At the time I genuinely thought the album would be released under a name other than Neil Finn or Crowded House. When the Crowded House reunion was announced I was actually quite shocked. Despite Neil and Nick recording together I was certain the Crowded House boat had sailed with Paul's death.

That was just my impression at the time, and for all we know Neil and Nick had secretly planned for a Crowded House reunion, but were holding off on the announcement until a bit later. Would love to see that interview again! Anyone else recall it? My guess it that it was on the ABC.

I still firmly believe Time on Earth began as a solo album, slowly morphing into a unknown project with Nick once recordings were underway, which eventually morphed into a Crowded House album once it was decided that was the best option.

Secret God (Stew) posted:

@Paul H, the 2005-2006 sessions were the first main project Neil worked on following Paul Hester's death, and I think having Nick back playing bass was mainly about the two reacquainting themselves with one another.

Unlike @Jaffaman I obviously wasn't present in the recording sessions or anything like that, but I do remember a TV interview from 2006, featuring both Neil and Nick, where they talked about how good it felt to be working together again.

When pressed about what the batch of songs would be released as, no straight answer was given. Neil did mention something about possibly starting another band together. So when Jaffaman referred to a "band" album a few comments ago I knew exactly what he meant.

At the time I genuinely thought the album would be released under a name other than Neil Finn or Crowded House. When the Crowded House reunion was announced I was actually quite shocked. Despite Neil and Nick recording together I was certain the Crowded House boat had sailed with Paul's death.

That was just my impression at the time, and for all we know Neil and Nick had secretly planned for a Crowded House reunion, but were holding off on the announcement until a bit later. Would love to see that interview again! Anyone else recall it? My guess it that it was on the ABC.

I still firmly believe Time on Earth began as a solo album, slowly morphing into a unknown project with Nick once recordings were underway, which eventually morphed into a Crowded House album once it was decided that was the best option.

Since Crowded House had officially been broken up, and a "Farewell to the World" concert played, along with Afterglow to clean up loose ends, it is not too surprising that Neil and Nick were considering a new band together (although this is the first time I've heard that). May have been the label's preference, or maybe nostalgia on Neil's part to revive the CH moniker.

No matter what, the label says Crowded House, so who are we to say otherwise?

Steve Shealy posted:
Secret God (Stew) posted:

@Paul H, the 2005-2006 sessions were the first main project Neil worked on following Paul Hester's death, and I think having Nick back playing bass was mainly about the two reacquainting themselves with one another.

Unlike @Jaffaman I obviously wasn't present in the recording sessions or anything like that, but I do remember a TV interview from 2006, featuring both Neil and Nick, where they talked about how good it felt to be working together again.

When pressed about what the batch of songs would be released as, no straight answer was given. Neil did mention something about possibly starting another band together. So when Jaffaman referred to a "band" album a few comments ago I knew exactly what he meant.

At the time I genuinely thought the album would be released under a name other than Neil Finn or Crowded House. When the Crowded House reunion was announced I was actually quite shocked. Despite Neil and Nick recording together I was certain the Crowded House boat had sailed with Paul's death.

That was just my impression at the time, and for all we know Neil and Nick had secretly planned for a Crowded House reunion, but were holding off on the announcement until a bit later. Would love to see that interview again! Anyone else recall it? My guess it that it was on the ABC.

I still firmly believe Time on Earth began as a solo album, slowly morphing into a unknown project with Nick once recordings were underway, which eventually morphed into a Crowded House album once it was decided that was the best option.

Since Crowded House had officially been broken up, and a "Farewell to the World" concert played, along with Afterglow to clean up loose ends, it is not too surprising that Neil and Nick were considering a new band together (although this is the first time I've heard that). May have been the label's preference, or maybe nostalgia on Neil's part to revive the CH moniker.

No matter what, the label says Crowded House, so who are we to say otherwise?

Completley agree 

slowpogo posted:
Paul H posted:. 

Regardless, as I noted, it seems that Neil was quite happy to issue a set of songs as Crowded House songs even though Mark wasn't on any of them. It's one thing for a member to not be on a song or two if the arrangement doesn't require his/her input, but this isn't a similar situation. Obviously, Mark is happy enough about it (or, at least, resigned to being treated this way).

I feel like you’re imposing a rigid personal rule about what a band is, in a creative/artistic space where there are few rules to begin with.

I'm imposing no rules at all, unless you count the basic rules around interpersonal relationships/behaviour. If you're happy for people to be thought of merely as resources to be tapped or not as the mood fits, fine, but I'd hope for a more humane view.

At the time it broke up, CH consisted of three people. If two of them get together and reform the band, surely it sends a very public message to the third member that they weren't wanted or that their input wasn't appreciated. That must be very humiliating and hurtful. As I note, that's for Mark to decide, not me. All I can do is watch and comment.

Steve Shealy posted:

No matter what, the label says Crowded House, so who are we to say otherwise?

I guess it depends on how important Crowded House was/is to anyone. For me, Crowded House was as close to a religion as one could get: I ate, slept, breathed CH for years. They were the only thing I played. That isn't about the brand, it's about the people who were in the band. I find it hard to reconcile the notion that anyone could love Crowded House but not care who was considered to be in it.

Of course, if Mark had been invited to take part in those sessions but had turned it down, I would have had less issue with Neil and Nick carrying on as CH on their own, but Neil very specifically chose to invite Mark back when he decided to reform CH.

As I said earlier (and I'm aware I'm repeating myself) I find it hard to accept an entire sessions' worth of material as being band material when it was recorded while the band was in abeyance, while there was apparently some doubt as to whether the project was a solo album or "not-Crowded House-band" album, without a key member of Crowded House and before it was decided to formally reform the band and invite back that missing member.

And I find it hard to understand how anyone who loves Crowded House can accept a random set of session players as being "Crowded House".

Clearly I'm being too precious

I think you raise a fair point @Paul H.

I completely understand Neil and Nick not inviting Mark to take part in the sessions, as at the time the album was not planned to be released under the Crowded House moniker.

I wonder what the story was with Peter Jones not being involved in the reunion though. Once Mark was back in the fold, and Crowded House had officially reformed, I saw no reason why Peter wouldn't have been the default and most logical choice. He was the band's drummer from 1994 until 1996, recorded in the studio with them, and even played a few songs at Farewell to the World despite Paul being back for the occasion. On top of being a great drummer, he was also close with Nick following the break-up, with both being members of Aussie band Deadstar.

Of course I have no inside knowledge into the decisions being made at the time, and for all I know he may have been invited and declined the offer. Does anyone know if he was even considered? I realise he sadly died from brain cancer in 2012, so perhaps he had health issues as far back as 2006, which prevented his participation? Anyone have any insight on this? (@Jaffaman, @gryphon)

And if not Peter Jones, then why didn't Ethan Johns become the new Crowded House drummer? He was all over that album, playing drums on the majority of the tracks. He even provided backing vocals and harmonies, mixed half the album, did the string arrangements on a few songs and also played various types of guitars on different songs.

Mark (and Matt) did still play on four of Time on Earth's songs (Don't Stop Now, She Called Up, Even a Child and Transit Lounge), so at the very least we did get what was effectively a Crowded House EP amongst the new batch of songs. Three of those four 'Crowded House' songs were released as single in some capacity (Even a Child only a promo), so there was definitely more emphasis placed on the full band tracks over the "solo" material.

@Paul H, How would you (or anyone else reading this) have gone about things at the time? Or how do you think Neil, Nick and co. should have gone about things? I'm genuinely interested.

Should the original 12 Time on Earth songs (I'm including Lost Island and Stare Me Out here) have been quickly released as a solo record in late 2006? Perhaps with a quick low-key 8-10 date Australian & New Zealand tour and a few TV appearances?

That would have allowed them to hold off on a reunion announcement until 2007, and perhaps released a 4-track EP of the actual  new Crowded House songs, followed by a proper album when they were ready?

Should the 12 Neil & Nick songs have been shelved completely? (at least until further notice). What if they were all re-recorded with Matt replacing Ethan's drum tracks and Mark replacing most of the guitar and adding his backing vocals? Would that have made it more of a Crowded House  album to you?

Anyway, I've written far too much for the one post so I'll leave it at that!

Secret God (Stew) posted:

@Paul H, How would you (or anyone else reading this) have gone about things at the time? Or how do you think Neil, Nick and co. should have gone about things? I'm genuinely interested.

Should the original 12 Time on Earth songs (I'm including Lost Island and Stare Me Out here) have been quickly released as a solo record in late 2006? Perhaps with a quick low-key 8-10 date Australian & New Zealand tour and a few TV appearances?

That would have allowed them to hold off on a reunion announcement until 2007, and perhaps released a 4-track EP of the actual  new Crowded House songs, followed by a proper album when they were ready?

Should the 12 Neil & Nick songs have been shelved completely? (at least until further notice). What if they were all re-recorded with Matt replacing Ethan's drum tracks and Mark replacing most of the guitar and adding his backing vocals? Would that have made it more of a Crowded House  album to you?

It's an excellent question, isn't it? Neil really did put himself in a spot when he decided that he did want to be back in a band and that that band could only really be Crowded House.

The cleanest solution to me, would have been to release Time on Earth as a solo album and tour it as such, even if only briefly. I know that tours can be important for selling albums but at that stage of his career Neil was pretty much preaching to the converted only; that is, he was only selling albums to his hard core fan base and only those people were catching him on tour. I don't think he'd have lost sales of the album if he hadn't toured it extensively. As you suggest, he could then have issued a four-song EP of the new CH recordings as a teaser for a full-scale reunion. CH could then have toured with a handful of new songs to add to their set list, giving Neil some time to write more material. However, I totally get that this path would not have immediately addressed his desire to be back in a band and would have been frustrating for him.

I think the album didn't deserve to be issued and abandoned (although later events - I'm thinking about the fate that Lightsleeper suffered after Neil, um, decided he wanted to be in a band) suggest he could have done this. Of course, he later issued Out of Silence with no follow up tour and I don't think that hurt sales either.

I think Neil suffered one of his moments of indecisiveness: once he'd decided he wanted to work with Nick on a new album he needed to make a decision before recording had started as to whether it was a solo project or a CH album and stick with that decision even if he regretted it. In the end, he vacillated and we ended up with what I consider to be a very unsatisfactory solution.

I'm sure Neil would tell me to stop being to so hung up on it all and just enjoy the music but that just seems to ignore or demean the idea that Crowded House meant something. Neil addressed this issue early in his solo career when he confirmed that Parlophone had asked him to continue using the CH name and he'd refused, saying that he was aware that fans had had a special rapport with the band and that it was disrespectful to the relationship they'd had with their fanbase and the work that the other members had put into it by continuing to use the name. He gained an awful of respect from me at the time, respect he lost when he chose to issue ToE as a band album, going back on all he'd said.

I do feel that Neil hurt the reputation of his solo career by not issuing such a great record as a solo album, and I do think he undermined the idea of Crowded House by issuing the album as a band album which, personally, I find very disappointing given what CH means to me (see what I did there?). Perhaps Neil feels uncomfortable or frustrated by the idea that CH means a lot to some people.

Well, I think the recent news that poor Mark has been dropped from the band finally shatters the idea that the name Crowded House has any meaning at all. From being so respectful of the contribution of its other members that he refused to carry on using the name after he broke the band up, to now feeling - apparently - that any line featuring him and Nick can be called Crowded House. 

As someone who adored Crowded House back in the early 90s I'm so saddened to feel that it is now nothing more than a brand.

Perhaps I do Neil and Nick a disservice. Perhaps, in reality, the band was just the two of them from the moment Paul left, with other players merely hired hands. Perhaps I just projected onto them an idea of band-ness because I wanted to carry on believing that a version of the "classic period" line up could still be thought of as a band. 

And perhaps Crowded House really is just Neil and Nick and whoever they choose to work with. It all seems so far away from the real band I saw tear up venues across the UK in 1992-4.

I'll be honest, I still believe that is a band. I adore Mark but even without him, I'm sure that Crowded House will still be Crowded House. Just different. I think it will be a combination of the classic Crowded House sound we are all used to and the post Dizzy Heights style of Neil's music. 

I know change is scary but I think we should put more faith in the man that is a large part of the reason why we are all here together [alone]. I believe this will legitimately be Crowded House and also a new project. And that excites me.

Paul H posted:

Well, I think the recent news that poor Mark has been dropped from the band finally shatters the idea that the name Crowded House has any meaning at all. From being so respectful of the contribution of its other members that he refused to carry on using the name after he broke the band up, to now feeling - apparently - that any line featuring him and Nick can be called Crowded House. 

As someone who adored Crowded House back in the early 90s I'm so saddened to feel that it is now nothing more than a brand.

Perhaps I do Neil and Nick a disservice. Perhaps, in reality, the band was just the two of them from the moment Paul left, with other players merely hired hands. Perhaps I just projected onto them an idea of band-ness because I wanted to carry on believing that a version of the "classic period" line up could still be thought of as a band. 

And perhaps Crowded House really is just Neil and Nick and whoever they choose to work with. It all seems so far away from the real band I saw tear up venues across the UK in 1992-4.

Completley agree . I’ve championed the name of Crowded House for years , but it seems like I was wasting my time .

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