Rank The Neil Finn Studio Albums (post-Enz) (solo, duo, or group)

Here's how I would rank them this morning (could change by the afternoon). How would you rank them?

  1. Woodface
  2. Together Alone
  3. Everyone Is Here
  4. Out of Silence
  5. Time On Earth
  6. Crowded House
  7. Temple of Low Men
  8. Try Whistling This
  9. Oil Nil/All
  10. Dizzy Heights
  11. Lightsleeper
  12. Finn
  13. Intriguer
  14. Rain
  15. Sun Came Out
  16. Afterglow
Original Post

I don't know how I'd rank them. I like how highly you rank Out of Silence, I have only just got it but it strikes me as an excellent album. Woodface is also one of my favourites I loved having Tim in the band.
Intriguer would be near or possibly at the top for me, Archer's Arrow, Isolation, Amsterdam, Even if and Elephants are all magic  and it was this album that really helped me to appreciate what an excellent artist Neil is. 

1. Together Alone
2. Afterglow
3. Woodface
4. Finn
T5. Time On Earth
T5. Temple of Low Men
7. Dizzy Heights
T8. Intriguer
T8. Crowded House
10. Out of Silence
11. Everyone Is Here
T12. Try Whistling This
T12. One Nil
14. Lightsleeper

Pretty CH-heavy at the top, but that's just how it is for me. Something about the band brings out the best in Neil. Dizzy Heights has climbed considerably since I last did one of these lists. It has really grown on me, much like Time On Earth did.

It always humours me in these kind of threads that my second favourite Finn-related album was a compilation of unreleased rarities & demos. I would actually like to know more about the backstory of Afterglow- who specifically pushed for its release etc. Somebody was smart enough to realise there was a treasure trove of classic songs sitting around and it would have been criminal if they never saw the light of day.

Haven't actually listened to Pajama Club, Rain or Sun Came Out in their entirety. There's something for me to do.

Thought it would be fun to update my rankings and here's what I got. The rankings seem to change on a daily basis.

  1. Woodface (the songwriting still astounds me)
  2. Together Alone (Neil's "rock" album tops my list on some days)
  3. Out of Silence (this album moves me emotionally like no other Neil album)
  4. Everyone Is Here (my favorite Neil Finn driving album)
  5. Time On Earth (the Neil album that moved me the most prior to Silence)
  6. One Nil/All (great songs; I like these songs better live than studio)
  7. Crowded House (the 80's production holds it back for me)
  8. Try Whistling This (the highs are amazing but the lows aren't Neil's best)
  9. Finn (fun album of good songs but seems unfinished in places)
  10. Temple of Low Men (Neil's melancholic side shines through)
  11. Lightsleeper (a grower for me; this may move up on the list over time)
  12. Dizzy Heights (love the music but the lyrics seem unfinished at times)
  13. Intriguer (great songs but a bit too glossy and amplified on the production)
  14. Rain (powerful music that seems musically connected to Out of Silence)
  15. Sun Came Out (the highs are great but there are clunkers on this album)
  16. Afterglow (lovely songs but didn't form a complete album for me)
  17. Pajama Club (a fun album but the songwriting didn't fully connect)

 

Sorry to double post my list. Just felt like embellishing it with some reasoning. 

Together Alone (my favourite album of all time. Never has an album by any artist ever felt so cohesive, not just in terms of sound but by every song being infused with a sense of 'place'. Through this album I visited Kare Kare long before I ever physically arrived there).

Try whistling this (To me this is the logical extension of Together Alone into a solo effort. It has darkness and light, moments of wonder and a bunch of songs that shine through a few moments of clunky production)

Woodface (70% of this album is perfection. 30% is skippable. When it glows, I'm in a sun filled room with hardwood floors, the smell of jasmine  and a sense of shaded optimism. Beautiful )

Time on Earth (I was disappointed at first. I think I was looking for something else from the comeback. Over time the best songs on the album have revealed themselves as essential. It's amazing songwriting only let down in spots by sterile production and a couple of bolt on songs)

Finn (It sparkles with whimsy and bristles with melancholy. It's indulgent while being accessible. Two songwriters cooperating and competing, excelling within the constraints of the project.)

Everyone is here (This is an odd one for me. The album seems less organic than Finn. There's more comfort and less conflict in the writing but there's an undeniable magic when these two collaborate.)

Dizzy Heights (I love Neil stretching out and playing with new sounds. some songs work here, some would be amazing no matter the sonic tapestry and there's a couple of boring songs.)

Intriguer (I'd swear there are songs written to spec on here. Somethings not quite right but there are still great songs to be found.)

Temple of Low Men ( The high points are all time highs  just doesn't work as an album for me)

Out of Silence (There are 4 or 5 songs on this that are simply perfect. Then there are songs which are far from. Being toward the bottom of the list is not a bad reflection the standard here is incredibly high)

Afterglow  (How can an album of off cuts sound like a somewhat coherent album? Because Neil wrote them... that's why.)

One Nil (Hate the production on this. Love many of the songs)

 Crowded House  (Obviously some legendary songs. Production on the album very much "of it's time")

The Sun Came Out  (Not a Neil album.As inconsistent as you'd suspect given the premise)

Rain (Moments of genuine Finn genius but again, not an album in the sense that the others are)

Pajama Club (TNT for 2 is a great song. Everything else measures up to the obscure "indie" mediocrity it seeks to emulate. A lot of its fun..)

Lightsleeper  (Not enough Neil. I love Liam but this feels like a father deferring to his son because that's what dad's do. So I find it hard to judge)

 

15. Afterglow - Better at filling in the gaps of CH history than being a cohesive album.
14. One Nil - Questionable production choices and "Rest of the Day Off"  as the lead single - really?
13. Pajama Club - There's a lot of fun to be had here, but not a full album's worth.
12.  Finn - See above.
11. Lightsleeper - Probably the best of the largely collaborative experimental albums.
10. Dizzy Heights - Like One Nil it has some questionable production choices. Ultimately, though the good choices outweigh the bad and the songs are stronger.
9. Out of Silence - Beautiful album if a bit samey.
8. Intriguer - I don't have the  distaste for this album that others seem to have. 10 solid tracks.
7. Time On Earth - Not as consistent as Intriguer, but so  many tracks they don't all have to be winners.
6.  Try Whistling This - Neil Finn actually trying to write hit singles for I think the last time in his career and it pays off. This more than anything feels like a followup to Together Alone, which is no bad thing
5. Everyone Is Here - Neil's third career renaissance begins with this album. Great songs, great harmonies, great b-sides. Love it!
4. Temple of Low Men - Incredible all the way through.
3. Crowded House - A bit less timeless due to the 80's production, but I still love every single song. Plus it has "Don't Dream It's Over", perhaps the best song ever written.
2. Woodface - Every song is a masterpiece
1. Together Alone - Even the spaces between the songs are masterpieces. OK, I don't know what that means, but this is my favorite album of all time ever.

On a related note, which has your favourite cover art? I can't go past Time on Earth. Every time I look at it, I think of 1. Paul Hester and 2. What a talented artist Nick Seymour is. I daresay it captured the emotions of the band at the time- a sombre sense of loss and a feeling that creativity would be the best way to heal.

Cradle2Grave posted:

On a related note, which has your favourite cover art? I can't go past Time on Earth. Every time I look at it, I think of 1. Paul Hester and 2. What a talented artist Nick Seymour is. I daresay it captured the emotions of the band at the time- a sombre sense of loss and a feeling that creativity would be the best way to heal.

The backdrop of that tour had a slightly different version of the art which particularly spoke to me. Nick is an amazingly talented person.

It's funny how people were so taken aback by a few members claiming "Lightsleeper" as Neil's "worst" album, but, clearly, from these lists SOMETHING has to be his subjectively "worst" album. That doesn't mean it's horrible (I don't think the Finns make HORRIBLE albums), but there is an album at the bottom of every list and that would have to be considered his "worst" album by the list-maker. Context is everything,. Neil's least appealing album is still great by anyone else's measure. 

I'm also surprised how "Temple Of Low Men" ranks so mid-range. One of my absolute favorites and filled with SO many classics. I prefer it to "Together Alone." Ah, subjectivity....

I'll have to think about my list.

15. Intriguer

14. Lightsleeper

^^The only albums that I don't feel I'll be listening to any time soon and wouldn't put any tracks into a Finn mix.

 

13. Pajama Club

A few tracks like Tell Me What You Want and Go Kart rub me the wrong way, but there are some very good ones. TNT for Two is one of Neil's best vocal melodies in the latter part of his career. I don't like the quality of sound...dry and scratchy, like a lot of stuff from Neil's studio.

 

12. Dizzy Heights

I like about half the album fairly well; the rest I don't need to hear again. I seem to like Lights of New York more than most people.

 

11. Out of Silence

I admire this project more than I like listening to it, but there are certainly many beautiful tracks. But sometimes, like the bridge of Love Is Emotional, it crosses into cheesy easy listening territory. Terrorise Me is one of Neil's best songs, and I Know Different is an affecting closer.

 

10. Finn

Only Talking Sense, Angels Heap, a few others are classic. The esoteric production sometimes works against it (Suffer Never could have been a great all-out psychedelic rock track).

 

9. Crowded House

The first four tracks are obviously classic. I like a few others like I Walk Away and Tombstone. But I rarely find myself listening to the album. I've never really loved Something So Strong...I kind of resent it for being one of their few big hits in the US, because it's such a fizzy trifle, it gives a too-shallow impression of the band.

 

8. One All

Several great tracks...Lullaby Requiem, Driving Me Mad, Human Kindness. And one of my top 5 Neil Finn songs ever, Into the Sunset. But about half the album is kind of off-putting to me...several songs I'm not wild about (Secret God, Hole in the Ice) even if their production is interesting and beautiful.

 

7. Everyone Is Here

It's about 10% too slick, but a great reminder of the Crowded House/Mitchell Froom days. The songs are really good in some ways but, as one review correctly stated, lyrically don't quite rise above the blandness of their titles (Anything Can Happen, Won't Give In). But it's a very enjoyable album, and Gentle Hum is one of Neil's best.

 

6. Afterglow

I enjoy this a lot, even if I mostly agree that the songs didn't belong on their respective albums. Except the Woodface tracks; I think a nice double album could have been made from those sessions. But I like every track and I think it coheres as its own album.

 

5. Time On Earth

The previous albums I mostly really like; here's where I start to LOVE them. Time On Earth is kind of miraculous in that it recaptured the band's spirit a decade later and, while not quite as good as the rest of this list, can stand proudly next to the best CH albums. Nobody Wants To reminds me most of the old CH. This album may not have any absolute knockout tracks like Into Temptation or Distant Sun, but it's got so many really strong ones that I love. I even love You're the One to Make Me Cry (preferable to All I Ask, as string ballads go). And People Are Like Suns is a gem.

 

4. Woodface

While several tracks are among the band's best, I think of this and Temple of Low Men first and foremost as album experiences. Woodface probably is too long, either cut a few tracks or (as I suggested above) make it a double album with all the excellent tracks left off. Whispers and Moans still blows my mind. The production is crisp and natural but often a little too polite, verging on an easy listening vibe sometimes. Knowing their live sound counteracts this but this album (especially Weather With You, Fall at Your Feet) is for better or worse responsible for people having a "soft" impression of Crowded House, when that's obviously often not true.

 

3. Together Alone

As an album I find it a little uneven. I don't feel all the experimentation works. I don't love Black and White Boy, Fingers of Love, Skin Feeling nearly as much as most of the other tracks. But it's got some of the greatest heights of Crowded House. Pineapple Head, Distant Sun, Private Universe. Even the title track is a success, when that kind of ethnic fusion music can often be cringe-worthy. Not here, it's a beautiful track. I appreciate that, at the height of their success, they made something that fairly challenged people's perception of their music.

 

2. Try Whistling This

Probably heresy to some to put this so high on the list, but I re-listened recently and was floored all over again. I love the production here. Neil Finn did such a wonderful job of expanding his palette, both in terms of production and songwriting, while still staying true to his strengths. Astro is so good. Even the album tracks like Faster Than Light, Souvenir, Twisty Bass are also so good. I just enjoy it start to finish.

 

1. Temple of Low Men

I love the album's briefness. Just 10 tracks, all very good-to-stellar. It hits such a nice sweet spot for me...Neil's songwriting is at its catchiest, but also its darkest. I Feel Possessed is a prime example. It's both catchy and energetic, but dark and mysterious and brooding, and poignantly pretty in a way. I love the arrangements by Mitchell Froom. You can hear the band as a unit, bass/guitar/drums, with all these great old keyboards layered among them. This may be the album that most made me aware of things like producing and mixing. I realized, listening to Into Temptation, somebody had to decide how to arrange all these elements. And somebody had to decide how to make it all sound good together. This is when I looked and saw Bob Clearmountain's name, and was keenly aware of mixing ever since. I love that it's generally quite dark, and then in the middle you have this explosive release of When You Come. I love the weird diversion of Sister Madly. Even a "deep album track" like Never Be the Same, I just love. And Better Be Home Soon vies with Into the Sunset as the best closing track of any of Neil's albums.

Sugar Mouse posted:
slowpogo posted:

15. Intriguer

Poor Intriguer doesn't even get a comment ...

Well the comment is meant to encompass both that and Lightsleeper. But yeah, I just didn't like it much when it came out, and have only grown more distant over time.

slowpogo posted:
Sugar Mouse posted:
slowpogo posted:

15. Intriguer

Poor Intriguer doesn't even get a comment ...

Well the comment is meant to encompass both that and Lightsleeper. But yeah, I just didn't like it much when it came out, and have only grown more distant over time.

Yeah, pretty different from my list (I am gonna make it soon), speccialy on Intriguer, Out of Silence and One Nil/All experiences, but I REALLY enjoy reading it, Slowpogo...more than nice written...

koabac posted:

I'm also surprised how "Temple Of Low Men" ranks so mid-range. One of my absolute favorites and filled with SO many classics. I prefer it to "Together Alone." Ah, subjectivity....

Gathering Rain gave a pretty popular assessment of the album- the high points are breathtaking, but not everything holds up. I feel that too, but only to a minor extent. It's a fantastic record, which actually has less weak points than I remembered when I really broke things down.

Half the album are classics: I Feel Possessed, When You Come, Never Be the Same, Sister Madly, In the Lowlands. Two very good songs: Into Temptation and Love This Life. Two decent tracks: Mansion, Better Be Home Soon. Kill Eye is funky, quirky, fun for the odd listen but still dispensable.

slowpogo posted:

Into Temptation is “very good” and BBHS “decent?” That’s absolutely crazy to me. They’re both some of his very best songs.

That's why I love forums like this, you get to hear all kinds of tastes and perspectives. I don't think BBHS is a bad song, but I would still put it in the bottom quarter of all tracks by CH. The verses feel painfully short and somewhat uninspired, thrown in as interludes between a singalong chorus. BBHS feels as close to generic, commercially-friendly pop as Neil has ever been and there's a few things that come with the territory. The song shows its hand on the first listen- a nice first impression, but wears thin after a few more listens. I'd call it the antithesis of a 'grower' like a decent majority of the Time On Earth album.

I try to be impartial towards songs regardless of their commercial success, but it's difficult for a radio-worn track like BBHS to feel as fresh as hidden gems like In the Lowlands. There tends to be mixed feelings when a band's big hits are, in your eyes, mediocre relative to their catalogue. Now, I love when Distant Sun gets airtime, because I feel like people are hearing the band (and Neil's songwriting) at full flight.

I saw this and have thought about it for ages and have not been able to rank the records. Part of my thinking behind this is as follows:

  1. The records span such a long time frame where production and sounds have changed. For instance, Crowded House, Temple of Low men,  Woodface and Afterglow are probably some of the best song based records but the atmosphere of the recording is sterile and cold. Whilst they are fantastic songs, I much prefer to hear these live. 
  2. One Nil/One All and Intriguer are super records or collections of songs but sadly I've never properly connected with them - can't really explain it but there goes. 
  3. I might end up ranking them all a month or so from now but what I'm left with is the following: 

 

Time on Earth - for me this is Neil's finest moment, the songs, the sequence, the production, the diversity of the styles and the whole atmosphere. 

Together Alone - Crowded House's (v1) best record and by a mile; again the songs, the sequence, the production and the whole atmosphere. The atmosphere and spirit of Kare Kare / West Coast North Island is all over the record.. almost like musical incense. 

Finn/Lightsleeper - I love the rough and unfinished vibe, I love the binaural low fi sound from Tchad Blake and would take another like this whenever it comes, Lightsleeper reminds me of Finn in some ways but maybe 20+ years on. 

Dizzy Heights / Out of Silence - These are like part A and B for me; A is at times edgy and fun and very very brave - dive bomber, B is softer and mellower and I think I get people comparing it to Brian Wilson. Dive Bomber is majestic and beautiful - none of us perhaps ever saw that coming but I love this song. 

Try Whistling This - I love the songs, the sound, the production, I don't listen to it all that often and need to be in the right mood for it. Love sinner and the sample that wraps around it. I remember being so so keen to hear Neil's first solo record and almost counting down the days til it came out - for me its a special record.

Pajama Club - l like the lo-fi 'ness and the vibe, I don't love all the songs but its fun and again would be keen to see whether Neil and Sharon follow it up. 

Everyone is Here - I think its up there for me as the production feels more modern and current. I rate it on a songs basis as very similar to Woodface - sometimes I think if Woodface had been recorded in 2003 / 2004 it might sound like this. 

Afterglow deluxe - the record that never quite came and was demo'ed and recorded in parts between 1994 and 1996. I can see how Nick Seymour was so disappointed by the band breaking up. A record containing Help is Coming, Last Day of June, Anthem, Loose Tonge, Everything is Good for you, Instinct, Not the Girl you think you are, Paradise, Spirit of the Stairs would have been a worthy follow up to Together Alone. It is a classic who knows and can only be said with hindsight, as many on here have wondered. 

For me I think Neil hit a purple patch with his song writing between 1992 and 1997, Together Alone, Finn and Try Whistling This are a great hatrick - its only hearing the other songs that were presented on the Afterglow deluxe that you realise how much more there was. 

For me, I look forward to what Neil does next, he has produced some great and interesting music in the last decade. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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