I've been on a Finn kick the last month, so here are my latest thoughts on both versions of Everyone Is Here.
First off, the Visconti sessions. I have no insider knowledge, but suspect that Visconti took a hands off approach to the recording. This is based on the recordings of the three TABAC shows where all the songs they'd written at that point were performed (no All God's Children) before they started to record the album. Arrangement wise and feel, these are very similar to the Visconti versions. Listening to the Visconti sessions, it seems clear that what ended up as the B sides are the strongest tracks. Tell Me C'mon, Everyday Alright, Sunset Swim and Land Torments the Sea are very well recorded and the arrangements suit the songs. Sunset Swim is a triumph. I agree with Painaporo, the rhythm section just doesn't seem to gel with the songs and this is evident in the TABAC recordings too. Some songs appear to not be finished at this stage either, particularly Part of Me, Part of You and A Life Between Us. These two songs changed dramatically between demos, TABAC and Froom sessions. POMPOY started out life as My Voice Won't Speak and while it's a pleasant demo, it doesn't show the full promise of the song. By the time of the Split Enz reunion webcast the chorus was in place (possibly Tim's contribution?) where in the original what became the bridge was the verse and the verse was the chorus. There's a recording of a solo show Neil performed during the Froom sessions that shows A Life Between Us was still in flux and is still pretty ordinary.
Anything Can Happen.
Yeah, it's got that bloody awful crunch sample in it and the additional bridge really adds nothing to the song. Much more dynamic in the Froom version.
I prefer the Visconti version. The best version IMO is the 7 Worlds Collide version. One of the reasons I prefer the Visconti version is that the original piano lines are intact and the string arrangement is written to compliment these. In the Froom version the piano arpeggios are replaced with plodding chords that destroy the symbiosis of the string arrangement with the piano. The string arrangement ends up not really making much sense with the arrangement.
Way Back Down
I prefer the Froom version, the arrangement is tightened, the lovely ambient guitar lines are to the fore and the added keyboards really bring it together. There's nothing wrong with the Visconti version though, it's still nice.
Won't Give In
Froom version all the way. He worked magic on this. The Visconti version is faithful to the TABAC feel of the song and, well, I think it makes a turd out of a great song. The same thing happened with
All The Colours.
Froom's version is so far ahead of the Visconti version it's not funny.
Nothing Wrong With You
Now this had radically changed from the TABAC version, which is quite frankly pretty ordinary IMO. The strings sound much better on the Visconti version, but without that high falsetto harmony on the chorus, the Visconti version sounds limp. The chorus in the Froom version is such a huge lift to the song.
Luckiest Man Alive
I prefer the Visconti version. I love the interplay of electric piano and piano. There is an annoying guitar loop, but I feel the Froom version is way overproduced. That descending guitar line ruins that version for me.
I like both versions. The Visconti recording is a nice acoustic laid back version with a beautiful string arrangement which gets a bit lost in the Froom version, but that version with it's driving piano and electric guitars is great.
Hard to decide, both versions are great.
The added drums to add a lot to the Froom version, though the Visconti version is good too (as they are basically exactly the same recording bar a few overdubs).
Land Torments The Sea
Prefer the Visconti version.
Have I missed anything?
In conclusion, both have their pluses and minuses. The Visconti albums greatest strengths are what became the B sides. A Life Between Us and POMPOY are travesties compared to the Froom versions as are Won't Give In and All The Colours. I have the feeling these four songs are possibly the ones originally slated to be re-recorded by Froom who certainly worked wonders on them. The biggest problem I have with the Visconti versions are how weak the vocals are. Visconti's string arrangements are sublime (and always are, just listen to his string arrangements of Sparks' Something For The Girl With Everything and This Town Aint Big Enough For The Both Of Us). So my belief is that Visconti took a back seat, hands off approach to the album and let the Finns lead the way, when I suspect for quite a few songs they weren't sure how to proceed and probably needed guidance.
When I first heard the Visconti produced B sides compared to the overcompressed Froom recordings I felt we'd been cheated out of a great album. It was a shock to hear the rest of the recordings. While some were great, others were very ordinary and greatly improved on by Froom. My ultimate EIH uses a mix of Visconti and Froom recordings and includes all the B sides.