Several of these 19 tracks are solid-gold greats.
Mike Diver 2010-10-14
It’s simple, really: if you write super songs, they won’t get old. Crowded House have a catalogue that features so many gems that they should, perhaps, be held in the high regard primarily reserved for acts that came before them, the likes of The Beatles and the Stones. At least, they should be seen as a sort of southern hemisphere R.E.M. – capable of writing the finest pop songs, but always with an air of vulnerability, with heavy heart and burning soul. Their roots are very different, but the songs speak for themselves: several of these 19 tracks are solid-gold greats.
Whether the world needs another Crowded House best of, after two already – 1996’s Recurring Dream and 2003’s US release, Classic Masters – is ultimately a moot point as, while the Neil Finn-led outfit has hardly been a global chart force since their 2006 reunion, the songwriting quality has remained firmly intact. This set, covering as it does all of their studio albums except for Intriguer of June this year, is their most complete hits package to date, and effectively becomes their definitive document. It is, therefore, essential – should these songs not already be part of your record collection, of course.
Highlights are only ever going to be determined by the period of Crowded House’s existence that the listener was first alerted to. For me, the songs of 1991’s Woodface and its great, dark follow-up, 1993’s Together Alone, are the most fondly remembered; but the group’s eponymous debut spawned its share of celebrated singles, including Don’t Dream It’s Over, Something So Strong and Mean to Me. Woodface’s Weather With You is the band’s only UK top 10 to date, but they’ve broken the top 20 several times: Distant Sun, a standout of Together Alone, reached 19, and the same LP’s Locked Out went higher still, peaking at 12. Private Universe flopped as a single, but it’s one of the most intimate and melancholic songs Finn and company have ever penned.
Of course, Crowded House are very much an ongoing concern, this release far from a full stop at the end of a career of highs and lows – drummer Paul Hester’s suicide in 2005 representing the lowest ebb of all. So while the finest songs here are worthy of unreserved acclaim, who knows: the band might just have even better numbers still up their sleeves. As they say themselves, Don’t Stop Now.