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I've noticed since I been reading this site that there seems to be a consensus of opinion that TA is the benchmark by which all other CH material should be judged and I've been asking myself why?

Don't get me wrong I love TA.

But I'm finding it very difficult to decide why it is "the album". After all it wasn't the band's most successful album in terms of commercial success, the songs off TA aren't played on the radio as often as the hits off Woodface or CH.

And dare I say it, for me it's not perfect, in fact I find it easier to say what I don't like about TA than what I do love.

My most specific grip is "Walking on the spot" which for me spoils the oil painting and should have been cut out. There are other things about it too, that make me feel uncomfortable. Songs like Catherine Wheels and Private Universe that because of their intensity, stir uncomfortable and almost painful emotions in me (I still like the songs though). Sometimes these songs makes it difficult to listen to the album in one go.

So do you agree with the consensus view that TA is CH at their best and if so why? Let us not assume or presume, let us justify our opinions.

Will anyone be brave enough to say that TA isn't their favourite or CH at their best, if so where does it fall short? what's better? what does it for you?

And what doesn't work on TA for you, you may disagree with me and love Walking on the spot, but hate In my command???

Come on Frenz time to study the "Mona Lisa" of CH and see whether she's hiding a secret mustache Big Grin
we like it different passion & commitment
Original Post
It's so difficult for me to judge albums as wholes. To me, it's about individual songs, and I can find favourites on (almost) each one. Woodface and Together Alone contain most of these favourites, but TLM has two or three as well, and Archer's Arrows on Intriguer is among my Top Ten, too ... Really, for me it's about the song, not the album.
I think you've mentioned some key points as to why TA has the status that it does. Mainly the fact that it doesnt have the radio friendly "hits" on it - you could almost say thats it's the album where they grew up.

I think Youth's influence and Mark's addition to the band played massive parts too.

In this country, Distant Sun was played everywhere as the first single and constantly on MTV. I think that got the non-fans interested and their attention. It confirmed to us all thst this band wasn't just about WWY and that 'Paul Young song'!

For me personally, it's all about Kare Kare and the sheer mystery of that place. Anyone who saw any "making of" footage of TA can just picture the water, the green hills and the mysterious tales from the locals. I want to run in that black sand (which I have!) and be influenced by the elements like they were.

For me TA just set a standard at the time of how to pour everything you have into one session/recording.

I love every single song on it apart from Pineapple Head - that didin't fit into the eerie-ess at all!
For me, while the music is majestic and the lyrics outright gripping, what makes Together Alone the best Crowded House album, and indeed one of the best albums ever recorded, is the feeling and atmosphere it evokes. This, I think, is where it's most notably superior to other Crowded House albums.

You don't have to know Kare Kare to feel it. Actually, for me, Together Alone brings me back to Australia, where I bought it, but either way you have this remarkable consistency in sound, beautiful melody with an edge and an underlying hint of desolation. The songs play off one another. Individually, they're nearly perfect, but then they work together to create something even greater.

There are little moments throughout that really push the album into head and heart: the gentle end of "Kare Kare," the arrival of the choir in "In My Command" (on first listen, still one of the most remarkable moments in any song I've ever heard), the driving ending of "Nails In My Feet," on down to the tail end of "Catherine Wheels" and the Maori choir in "Together Alone."

I generally refer to Together Alone as the closest I've ever come to a religious experience. There's really nothing else like it.

-Comp
I must admit that when it first came out I didn't really like I . Looking back now I think I just wasn't at an age or a place in life to 'get' it if you know what I mean. In fact it totally put me off CH for a few years - I couldn't understand what was going on with them.

Now though I totally love it. I agree that the songs on it can stir up emotions and that as a whole the songs on the album seem to combine to make something even better. I've also been lucky enough to hear some of the songs live and it's always a highlight of the gig for me. I don't really have a song on there that I really dislike anymore.
I personally don't think TA is their best album; for me, that title goes to ToLM, which I think is their most cohesive work and features several of my all-time favorite CH tracks (BBHS, Into Temptation, I Feel Possessed - I even love Kill Eye). TA does work better overall than does, say, Woodface, but it suffers from, for me, a bit too much inconsistency in terms of the quality of the songs themselves. Yes, there are songs that rank among their greatest, and there may be more of them than on any other single CH album; Distant Sun, Nails In My Feet, Private Universe, Locked Out, Walking On The Spot (you and I disagree here, kittybear), In My Command, and Pinapple Head are all brilliant. But there are also albatrosses that drag the record down - Kare Kare, Black and White Boy, Skin Feeling, and Together Alone are, for me, all substandard. The other thing that tempers my enthusiasm for TA is the way the recording of the record seemed to fracture the band's private lives; regardless of how good it is, it's hard to think that making an LP should destroy relationships like that (didn't Mark, Nick, and Paul all end partnerships/marriages during the making of the album or shortly thereafter?). And, for all the really good songs, there isn't one that I'd place in my top 5 (or possibly even top 10) all-time CH tracks - for whatever that's worth.
My opinion - is that TA is a work of genius. I believe it is CH at their very best and is, quite simply, my favourite album of all time.

The textures, the sounds, the pace, coupled with brilliant melodies and a brooding intensity make it a work hard to improve on.

In a way it does slip a little, towards track 10 is starts to feel like it is losing it a bit and then Distant Sun comes it and breathes a completely new life into the album. In fact it is that slight lull that takes DS to a higher level.

I believe the location had a lot to do with it. I also think that Youth, being a bit looser, less predictable, brought out good things in Neil.

Recent CH albums do sound a little too "safe" and TA sees them cutting loose just the right amount. It would be interesting to hear the songs before Bob Clearmountain tidied them up, but I think they are spot-on as they are.
I think TA is their best album . Its greatness lies in the atmosphere that permeates the whole thing (Kare Kare, Youth, Mark Hart etc) and a stunning collection of songs.

I think Kare Kare, Nails in my Feet, Walking on the Spot, Fingers of Love, Catherine Wheels and Distant Sun are classics. Personally I much prefer the Afterglow version of Private Universe.

I think Locked Out, Skin Feeling and Together Alone are really,really good songs.

I am not a great fan of Pineapple Head but I couldnt say why. It is certainly well written with a memorable melody. I think both Black and White Boy and In My Command are ok but they suffer from the general problem CH have with uptempo tracks.

But no this is a great album - great songs aside there is something much more atmospheric in the instumentals and I would love to hear the original mix before it was cleaned up.

Perhaps the only thing TA lacks is humour which is something that became quite edgy of Woodface, most likely due to Tims presence. The watermark was set very high by TA, perhaps impossibly so, which is why I was always keen on Neil not reforming CH.

In many ways those first 4 albums sit nicely in two camps - TOLM and TA bring the more atmospheric and at times dark CH to the fore while the first album and Woodface (which in many ways I think is best catalogued as a brothers album) shine in terms of pop and humour. A luxury of riches!
For me it was the band recording in that wild area of New Zealand. The standard sterile studio environment was replaced with something totally new and feisty. I visited the studio twice during the sessions and it had this primal vibe to it- those sandy tracks down to the beach at night, the sound of the sea & the smells, madonna and piggy banks ... Dugald taking the washing away (maybe that was the smell!!!)... atmosphere by the ton.

Apart from "Afterglow", "Together Alone" is the Crowded House album that I play the most. I was always amazed that it wasn't available in many areas for years- finally it returned to the catalogue and is a gem for many to find.

I do recall Grant giving me 6 large boxes of Crowded House Christmas cards to try and get the band to sign on their day off at Kare Kare (not one of my most popular moments *GRIN*).

Fun fun days...

Gryph
Together Alone is, for me, the only Crowded House album that couldn't have been recorded anywhere but in Zealand/Aotearoa. It's not just the Maori choir in the title track, or the Rarotongan log drumming in Private Universe, or even the Polynesian weeping slide guitar in Kare Kare. It's not even the evocative lyrics about the water on a burning beach (which anyone who's run on the black iron sands of Auckland's west coach beaches will immediately recognize), or a valley lit by the moon (which anyone who's gone camping in the Waitakeres will recognize), or the highest branch of an apple tree (which anyone who's worked a summer job in the Helensville fruit orchards might recall). It's something more elusive and visceral -- something about letting go, submitting to the whims of a wilder, more rugged locale, stepping outside an urban world built and populated entirely by busy, time-bound humans. The moon appears several times in these songs, and its presence seems revealing to me: it conveys a sense of a tiny world far away, following its own mysterious path (even spinning and spinning like a Pineapple Head). I wonder how many New Zealanders secretly identify with the moon? I know I did when I was small. On this album, at least, Neil seems to have done so too, if only unconsciously.

Bits of Time on Earth were also recorded in New Zealand, as was all of Intriguer. But those records, for all their relative strengths, sound like they could have been recorded anywhere. And as a result, they sound more generic. (That's not a slam: but you listen to Silent House and you think of Neil Young; you listen to Turn It Round and you think of Radiohead; you listen to Falling Dove and you think of Macca and Nick Drake.) Together Alone, by contrast, sounds sui generis. It's utterly unique, ineluctably shaped in and by the hills, beaches, and bush of Kare Kare.
Perfectly put as ever, Watney.

The first time I heard TA I was transfixed, blown away. What can I say? Just an amazing musical experience. I can still remember the moment. (There are few albums I can actually remember listening to for the first time: Revolver, Touched By Jesus (by All About Eve) and TA.)

The melodies are uniformly brilliant, the playing perfect for each. As an album, it probably contains more of those indefinable "magical moments" than any other. The lyrics are evocative in a way that only Neil can do.

It fits together as a whole - as an experience. It is no concept album and yet - with one exception - every song fits, belongs, forms an intrinsic part of a greater whole. It has an intensity, a vibe. From my middle class bedroom in midlands England I couldn't hope to truly associate with the Aotearoan experience it captured but somewhere, something clicked. I pined to visit NZ from the moment it came out to the moment I landed in Auckland in November 2006. Since then, I've pined to return. I'm not a religious man but, truly, this album is the closest I've found.

The album's only misstep is the placement of Walking On The Spot. The only piano tune, it sounds utterly out of place. I've since put I Am In Love in its place and moved it to the end of the album and, you know, as a low key finale to the emotional rollercoaster that is the title track, its perfect.

Truly, I rate TA as the greatest album ever made. By anyone. Ever.
The last 2 posts on this subject gave me goosebumps.
Together Alone took my understanding of what it means to be a CH fan deeper. While I loved (and still do) Woodface, TA came along and it was an eye opener. Here is the band I love taking me on this charged, wild, emotional adventure without me ever leaving my bedroom.
Its raw energy, emotive lyrics, choirs, drums....it was everything I needed at the time. For me its an album that puts imagery in my head, grand sweeping mountain landscapes, the bright full moon in the sky, birds in the palm, waves crashing on the beach...
Its so hard to articulate, but it just takes me to places only CH can I think...

And I am going home tonight to play it all the way through (again), loud!
I think that Together Alone is the best Crowdies album because it's more mysterious and eerie tan the other albums. It's more dark in mood rather than thematically at points (e.g Pineapple Head) but I don't see any cause to get upset about it.

Kare Kare was a well placed starter, as was the title track as a closer. The highlight is definetly the mysterious segue from Locked Out into Private Universe, although Skin Felling comes close.

As for the so called "problem" with Crowded House uptempo tracks, as far as I'm concerned, ther is no problem. Black and White Boy is up there with Better Be Home Soon and Sister Madly as Crowdies classics. Who is to say that Pineapple Head isn't uptempo? Or Don't Stop Now?

My only grudge against the album is Neils almost comedic cold vocals on Nails In My Feet. It's a great song, but why didn't they just retake the vocals?
quote:
Originally posted by adidasman:
I personally don't think TA is their best album; for me, that title goes to ToLM, which I think is their most cohesive work and features several of my all-time favorite CH tracks (BBHS, Into Temptation, I Feel Possessed - I even love Kill Eye). TA does work better overall than does, say, Woodface, but it suffers from, for me, a bit too much inconsistency in terms of the quality of the songs themselves. Yes, there are songs that rank among their greatest, and there may be more of them than on any other single CH album; Distant Sun, Nails In My Feet, Private Universe, Locked Out, Walking On The Spot (you and I disagree here, kittybear), In My Command, and Pinapple Head are all brilliant. But there are also albatrosses that drag the record down - Kare Kare, Black and White Boy, Skin Feeling, and Together Alone are, for me, all substandard. The other thing that tempers my enthusiasm for TA is the way the recording of the record seemed to fracture the band's private lives; regardless of how good it is, it's hard to think that making an LP should destroy relationships like that (didn't Mark, Nick, and Paul all end partnerships/marriages during the making of the album or shortly thereafter?). And, for all the really good songs, there isn't one that I'd place in my top 5 (or possibly even top 10) all-time CH tracks - for whatever that's worth.


TOLM or TA, TOLM or TA???

I thought if someone was to choose another album it was bound to be TOLM, I find it difficult to choose between them sometimes, after all TOLM has got Mansion in the Slums (my alll time favourite CH song) Smiler. But for me TA just pips it, and thank you Adidasman for giving me a mechanism by which I can finally explain what TA means to me, what it has that TOLM in fact lacks.


Firstly, although TOLM has atmosphere (reputably a dark one, but I think this is wrongly attributed), TA has more, in fact it's the only album I know of that invokes as sense of place, namely NZ. I've never been there (I've seen the Piano though and various other documentaries etc.); but lyrically and musically this is how I perceive wild NZ to be, and from what other posters have said Neil got it right, it's as if he's managed to distill the essence of wild coastal NZ in a musical bottle.

Secondly, this is the album in which Mark Hart was formally invited to join the band and I feel that his musical ability allowed the band to tread fresh ground and create sounds that were completely new to CH. The steel guitar is the obvious one, but the electric guitar on Fingers of Love, the raucous shared vocal on Skin Feeling and his part in writing Together Alone, also stand out for me.

Thirdly I love all the songs on TOLM, but I feel the songs on TA are more intense, in a greater range of styles and tempos and most importantly for me songs like Fingers of Love, Private Universe, Kare Kare, and Pineapple Head have become live highlights when CH tour, more so I think than the songs of TOLM, (although no one can doubt the true majesty of I feel Possessed as an opener on the last tour). I will never forget seeing Together Alone performed live at the Birmingham NEC, the great tragedy is it will never happen again.

From your point of view Adidasman, I am really keen to understand why you regard Kare Kare, Black and White Boy, Skin Feeling, and Together Alone as substandard songs???

Finally, although I recognise the obvious abilities of Mitchell Froom as a producer, (I mean didn't he do well on CH, TOLM and Woodface?) I feel that what happened on TA was that Youth gave the band the opportunity to experiment and work in a less regimented manner. I don't think (as Steve Mac said in a previous post on a different thread) that he drove them harder than they had been driven before, but I feel his hands off approach gave them the opportunity to be more experimental and that Neil was more successful in putting ideas together this way, thereby creating a unique album.

As for you and I disagreeing on Walking on the Spot, my understanding is that this song is a lot older than the others and that it was in fact on the first CH demo tapes when they were trying to get their first record deal as CH. Maybe it's because it's such an old song that I feel it's out of place on TA, maybe I would have like it more on CH or even TOLM, all I know is, for me it disrupts the flow of the album and that is the only blot on an otherwise sublime canvas.
My two favourite guitar band albums ever (and thus two of my all time favourite albums) are The Decline of British Sea Power and Together Alone.

I think they have something in common, despite their stylistic differences. They are both incredibly, evocatively tied to a certain place. Like Paul, TA made me desperate to visit NZ and Kare Kare while I was stuck in England dreaming of the wider world. Ironically, now I live in Brisbane, TDoBSP now has a similar effect on me in reverse - it is so wrapped in some sort of mystical England I get pangs the other way!

They are both extremely atmospheric, and both full of feelings of unease and longing. Perhaps there are just certain feelings I relate to well?

Thinking about how I first heard TA is funny... I got into CH via Recurring Dream, and once I'd bought that, went about buying their albums proper. I bought TOLM first, then Woodface, then I bought CH and TA at the same time. For some reason I didn't listen to TA for a while...I had some idea that by the time they did their last album, they would have been out of ideas or something, so I listened to CH many times before putting on TA.

When I finally did play it, I realised within seconds how wrong my assumptions had been. The opening bars of Kare Kare were enough to alert me to the fact that this was going to be something special. Even now, 'a valley lit by the moon' instantly brings mental images to mind, possibly more so since I visted Kare Kare (and indeed, drove there late at night, the trip taking longer than we had anticipated).

Funnily enough, to examine TA on a track by track basis would have you believe I wouldn't put the album high up in my list of all time favourites - I don't really like the studio version of Locked Out, and I can take or leave Pineapple Head...but TA is far greater than the sum of its parts for me. For an album to contain songs I don't rate that highly, yet be in my short list of all time favourite albums, should say a lot about the quality of the LP as a whole. Somehow the solidness of an album feel overrides one or two weak songs. For me this is TA to a tee...

I am listening on headphones now (when I should be listening to the end of the JJJ Hottest 100) and it still transports me to the exact same place it did when I first heard it. Mark of a great album. As much as I'd like CH to beat it, I can't see how they ever will, if only for personal reasons. I Am In Love, indeed...
quote:
Originally posted by Kittybear:
As for you and I disagreeing on Walking on the Spot, my understanding is that this song is a lot older than the others and that it was in fact on the first CH demo tapes when they were trying to get their first record deal as CH. Maybe it's because it's such an old song that I feel it's out of place on TA, maybe I would have like it more on CH or even TOLM, all I know is, for me it disrupts the flow of the album and that is the only blot on an otherwise sublime canvas.



I have to agree with you on this one Kittybear. I think that I had spent too long listening to the version on the cd single of Weather With You which I just love. Then to hear it on TA it just felt completely out of place.

I do remember being really worried waiting for TA to be released, I was so worried that I wasn't going to like it because of Youth's influence. How wrong can one person be! I remember sitting on my sisters bedroom floor for our 1st listen together, loving it from the start, having to reply Nails as soon as it had finished because we couldn't believe how amazing it was! I even had Distant Sun as my 1st dance at my wedding.

But TOLM will always be my favourite Smiler
Nice and interesting topic. And many nice and deep observations, which I can easily asign, speacialy from Watney (by the way, you Watney have perfect way of expression, poetic and nice, in every post you wrote), Jaran, Comp, Titus, etc.

I would just say that I consider "Together alone" masterpiece, best album in music history. Why is so great?
1. many songs are great, masterpieces; Kare Kare, Nails in my feet, Fingers of love, Private universe, Catherine wheels, Distant sun, Together alone.
2. album with beautyfull, ambiental, egzotic vibe of one part of the world. Like Watney said, it couldnt be recorded anywhere but there, in NZ.
3. album which is perfectly cohesive, where better songs easily rescues not so great like In my command, Pinaple head and Skin feeling. Ofcourse, some of you will find those songs as best, but I am talking about myself.
4. very important; innovative production of Youth and great contribution of Mark Hart. We have to be on clear with one thing; altough Mitchell Froom did some great things with CH on previous albums, no way on earth that TA would sound like this with him as producer. Youth brought some new energy, "holistic" aproach, and complitely different, more loose view of producing. It obviously left a strong mark. Excellent mark. And excellent Mark.
quote:
Originally posted by Kittybear:
I thought if someone was to choose another album it was bound to be TOLM, I find it difficult to choose between them sometimes, after all TOLM has got Mansion in the Slums (my alll time favourite CH song) Smiler. But for me TA just pips it, and thank you Adidasman for giving me a mechanism by which I can finally explain what TA means to me, what it has that TOLM in fact lacks.


Firstly, although TOLM has atmosphere (reputably a dark one, but I think this is wrongly attributed), TA has more, in fact it's the only album I know of that invokes as sense of place, namely NZ. I've never been there (I've seen the Piano though and various other documentaries etc.); but lyrically and musically this is how I perceive wild NZ to be, and from what other posters have said Neil got it right, it's as if he's managed to distill the essence of wild coastal NZ in a musical bottle.

Secondly, this is the album in which Mark Hart was formally invited to join the band and I feel that his musical ability allowed the band to tread fresh ground and create sounds that were completely new to CH. The steel guitar is the obvious one, but the electric guitar on Fingers of Love, the raucous shared vocal on Skin Feeling and his part in writing Together Alone, also stand out for me.

Thirdly I love all the songs on TOLM, but I feel the songs on TA are more intense, in a greater range of styles and tempos and most importantly for me songs like Fingers of Love, Private Universe, Kare Kare, and Pineapple Head have become live highlights when CH tour, more so I think than the songs of TOLM, (although no one can doubt the true majesty of I feel Possessed as an opener on the last tour). I will never forget seeing Together Alone performed live at the Birmingham NEC, the great tragedy is it will never happen again.

From your point of view Adidasman, I am really keen to understand why you regard Kare Kare, Black and White Boy, Skin Feeling, and Together Alone as substandard songs???

As for you and I disagreeing on Walking on the Spot, my understanding is that this song is a lot older than the others and that it was in fact on the first CH demo tapes when they were trying to get their first record deal as CH. Maybe it's because it's such an old song that I feel it's out of place on TA, maybe I would have like it more on CH or even TOLM, all I know is, for me it disrupts the flow of the album and that is the only blot on an otherwise sublime canvas.
All righty, then - if that's what you want, I'll provide an answer. It's not going to be terribly profound, my response, but it's my opinion. Personally, I just don't happen to think the TA songs I mentioned are especially good - certainly not in comparison to the rest of the album. To me, Kare Kare, B&W Boy, Together Alone and Skin Feeling are like Tall Trees, All I Ask, and Fame Is on Woodface; eminently forgettable, basically unnecessary as part of the overall record, and far weaker than everything around them. (And sorry, but the slide guitar is out of tune on Kare Kare. It just is.) I can enjoy the atmospherics of TA in terms of the whole NZ vibe, but it doesn't make the songs better or worse; it just makes them sound a bit more exotic. And Walking On The Spot may not quite fit in terms of the rest of the album, but I always liked that about the song; the LP kinda opens up there, gets less self-conscious and just nails a really great pop song. For me, ultimately, that's what matters - WOTS is just a wonderful pop song. How anyone could see that as a negative thing is beyond me. You mention TA being more diverse and more dynamic; well, keep in mind that, when ToLM was made, people were still primarily buying vinyl, which limited how long a record could be; the record is much shorter than TA (probably half as long in terms of time), and so the lack of diversity can be at least partially attributed to that. I do agree with you about Mark Hart's contributions - but Mitchell Froom's contributions were as integral to ToLM, if not more so, as Mark Hart's were to TA. I happen to think Mark Hart is a solid guitarist who added some cool stuff to TA and a fine keyboard player, but I prefer Froom's playing style (and tonal palette) to his. Purely subjective.

One more thing. You talk about live highlights from TA, and you mention I Feel Possessed - are you forgetting what an absolute force of nature When You Come is live? Or Into Temptation? And, of course, the song they close nearly every show with is from ToLM (BBHS). So I don't see how TA has made more of an impact on their live show than has ToLM.

All I know is that most bands would kill to have two albums like TA and ToLM in their discography. Amazing stuff.
Together Alone is one of my favourite albums of all time.Mariola pretty much sums it up perfectly for me - however - imo it could have been even better.For example I do like every song, but there were a couple of even better ones left out.You can touch , being one of my favourite Crowded House songs ever.How could you leave a song like that out? Confused

But overall it's just the feel of the album, that is to me more than the sum of it's parts.

Interestingly for me Intriguer is more concise and "all killer no filler" .On TA ocasionally (whisper it!) I have skipped a track.I have never felt compelled to do that with Intriguer.

All in all TA just sounds like an "epic" album to me. Smiler
Some random thoughts which may or may not help the topic

Personally, I think "Walkng on the Spot" is the best point of their best album.

For me TA is the point at which they begin to stretch their wings, to work outside the system, to capture the zeitgeist, to create "art".

Its the first album in which neil didnt seem to be crushed by outside pressure to make "hits"...

I dont think there is the same sense of compromise that I feel on listening to the other albums...

When Woodface came out a girl I liked listened to it, so I did and she let me kiss her. By the time TA came out, I was 16 and just discovering real music and real life, CH were very unfashionable in the UK and TA seemed to belong to me only :-)
I think it has the greatness as over time people keep coming back to it.

It is beautiful, clever, dark, edgy and so full of feeling. The sounds and the atmosphere are uncomparable to anything I have ever heard elsewhere and it evokes a freedom and escape that perhaps many people would find comforting.

I'm not sure if the atmosphere of the rainforest comes through naturally or as a result of being told that it was recorded there but once you understand the location, the music makes sense.

I think the atmosphere is something that I have never found elsewhere on any record. Its unique. The songs are simply out of this world.

Epic was a word that got bandied around in the later 90's for all the string drenched slow burning indie ballads but TA has a grand epic feel which I don't think could be copied.

An amazing record that always feels good when it comes through the speakers.
Together Alone is my #1 favorite album of all time! To me, nothing else comes close to topping it. The atmosphere, the universal appeal of the lyrics, the angst, the longing, the log drums, the choir, the electric guitars ... I could go on and on.

One thing I'd like to mention that really impresses me about Together Alone is how diverse the songs sound from each other while still managing to sound like they belong together.

"In My Command" is a Beatlesque alternative rock track, "Nails In My Feet" has a fo-bluesy feel to it, "Black & White Boy is straight early 90's grunge, "Fingers of Love" is psychedelic jam rock, "Pineapple Head" is an acoustic triple time thing, I could go on and on. My point is that each song stands out as unique while also contributing to the beauty of the whole.

"Kare Kare" has got to be my favorite CH opening track, though it's also the one that gets played live the least. There's something about the way the opening notes pull me in and then the song slowly works its way into a frenzied trance by the end. It definitely embodies the feeling of Kare Kare Beach.

"Together Alone" is such a brilliant closer. Not many songwriters out there would attempt such a collaboration and even fewer would be so successful at it. When the log drums go into double time at the end and it's all choir and brass horns, it's just pure magic.

The only song on the album that I might not give 5 stars is "Skin Feeling". I don't dislike the song, but it's the only track that to me sounds a bit dated.

I like "You Can Touch" as well, but I can totally understand why it was left off the album. It doesn't have the musical layers that the rest of the album has and therefore sounds a bit incomplete by comparison. There's nothing wrong with a stripped down rocker, but it just belong on another album.

If I had my way (and on my iPod I do), I would have opened the album with "Zen Roxy". It's a beautiful instrumental with plenty of layers and soundscapes to fit on the album. I think it was only left off because Crowded House albums don't really have instrumentals.

This album is pure bliss and is as exciting to listen to today as it was the first day I bought it.

I've just noticed (and by the way I'm not new to TA by any stretch) the point where Hessie comes in at the 1:45 mark where Neil sings "and I can't look up" with the actual snare drum over the top of the sampled(?) drum loop that was playing. It's very subtle and just adds another layer to the track.

 

I love the drumming on the outro from 3:30 onwards. Turn it up!

I am absolutely crazy about Catherine Wheels at the moment. I always knew that it had been demo'd for the Woodface album but I also just learned here that it goes back to Split Enz days, or at least the first part of it does. It seems to be surmised, due to the writing credits, that the 2nd part was jammed out and expanded on based on a bass part by Nick.

 

That may well be the case but it also sounds like 2 separate songs joined together. Whatever, it's magical. The way the 2nd part comes in and introduces a new melody line that just seems so natural that you don't even realise that its different to the 1st part. I think that without that 2nd part the song wouldn't be as great as it is. I love it!

I think for me it was a creative peak for the band, the musicianship had progressed from previous albums , (especially Nick's bass lines) It was a more cohesive work too, the atmospheric production, the songs  a fine mix of light and dark,... and darker. Distant Sun struck the emotional spot with the lines of the opening verse, some of Neil's most personalised songwriting. In my Command was another early favourite, structurally a brilliant blend of Lennon vs McCartney with slightly sinister overtones in the lyrics, the magical uplift from the rising harmony in the chorus from Tim (and  choir) another highpoint within the song. 

Catherine Wheels, a joyous leftover from Neil and Tim's prolific songwriting spell which led to Woodface, further evidence of their ability to write dark tales wrapped in a seductive melody.   

 

TA stands up very well now, over 20 years later.      

I agree with those who say that the addition of Mark Hart , and the general sonic ambience throughout make the album . I listen to the album and just think of the stories in the Something So Strong book about their time in Kare Kare - and it just feels so evocative.

 

I also agree its not perfect. You Can Touch should not have been left out, and could have replaced either Skin Feeling or Catherine Wheels .

 

Woodface has the stronger "singles"  for me - but Together Alone is the better collective work.

 

I'm one of the few who thinks Intriguer however is as strong as both of them ...

Originally Posted by Comp:
For me, while the music is majestic and the lyrics outright gripping, what makes Together Alone the best Crowded House album, and indeed one of the best albums ever recorded, is the feeling and atmosphere it evokes. This, I think, is where it's most notably superior to other Crowded House albums.

 

That says it all, really. By the time I actually visited Karekare, I felt I already knew the place. I could relate to the "raw power" that group members have spoken about, it was a mix of creativity and a sense of violence at the same time, meshing with the unreal beauty of it, and I did not want to leave. The record captures that, and for some reason -- and unlike all the other CH albums -- it does not feel like a collection of songs created in a specific period, but as a coherent whole. That, more than any other single factor, makes it stand out for me.

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