- 02 May 01
It has to be said that the new album from founder of the late great Split Enz Tim Finn doesn't deviate to any great degree from what you'd expect of someone with his background in controlled, melodic Pop.
It has to be said that the new album from founder of the late great Split Enz Tim Finn doesn't deviate to any great degree from what you'd expect of someone with his background in controlled, melodic Pop. Finn has been capable of writing articulate Beatlesque tunes for almost two decades now and on "Before And After" his talent shows no sign of diminishing, but his chances of solo success are greatly enhanced this time around thanks to 1991's collaborations with younger brother Neil.
Although never noted as a collaborative writer, a proposed Finn brothers album resulted in a three-week compositional brainstorm with Tim and Neil supplying the bulk of the songs for Crowded House's hugely successful Woodface, after which the elder Finn, rather unwisely, decided to embark on a world tour with the band . . . a link-up which lasted less than a month into a two-year tour. Still, two songs which didn't make it onto the final running order of Woodface are present and correct on Before And After, an album which finds the reputedly tense and introspective New Zealander in refreshingly open and expansive mood.
'In Love With It All' and 'Strangeness And Charm' are the songs which he shares with Neil and, not surprisingly, both are typical of the sharply structured tunes which bear the Crowded House trademark. Of course, Tim Finn was writing memorable melodies long before bus drivers learned the chorus of 'Weather With You' and on the opening 'Hit The Ground Running' he offers one of his trademark somersaulting chord sequences between verse and chorus, a device he uses sparingly but one which never fails to impress.
'Protected' which follows boasts another haunting hookline but the real gem on the first side - I know this is a CD but by the arcane educational staple known as simple arithmetic the first six songs constitute the ' A' or first side for us old-timers . . . humour us, please! - can be found in 'Persuasion', a link-up with the great Richard Thompson . Knowing and, er, persuasive, this song could be seen as being typical output by the generation of musicians deified by the Q Magazine approach - all class, taste and refinement. Fine, but anyone who can't distinguish between Richard Thompson and Phil Collins, or Tim Finn and Michael Bolton isn't likely to be persuaded by arguments that true talent hasn't always been rewarded as lavishly as it deserves.
The oddest credit to appear on Before And After lurks in the brackets following 'Many's The Time ( In Dublin )', where the names of Liam O'Maonlai and Andy White join that of Finn. Strangely enough, this isn't as bad as I initially feared, although the ubiquitous uileann pipes of Davy Spillane are a bit too Bord Failte-ish for my personal prejudices.
Ah well, you can't have everything but even on lighter songs such as 'Funny Way' and 'Walk You Home' the overall impression left by Before And After is of a man at home with his muse ; feet up, beers chilled and the volume where you can feel it as well as hear it. Welcoming and warm, this is a record to really like rather than fall head over heels in love with . . . and I've no problem with that at all.
* George Byrne