Wednesday, June 30, 2010

50 years ago: Oliver! opened in London


Lionel Bart (music & lyrics)

The Musical

Opened on Broadway: January 6, 1963

Number of Performances: 774

Opened at London’s West End: June 30, 1960

Number of Performances: 2618

Movie Release: October 5, 1968

Cast Album

Charted: November 3, 1962

Peak: 4 US

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: show tunes


Charted: November 23, 1968

Peak: 20 US, 4 UK

Sales (in millions): 0.5 million

Genre: show tunes

Songs on London Cast Album:

  1. Food Glorious Food
  2. Oliver!
  3. I Shall Scream
  4. Boy for Sale
  5. That’s Your Funeral
  6. Where Is Love?
  7. Consider Yourself
  8. You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket Or Two
  9. It’s a Fine Life
  10. Be Back Soon
  11. Oom - Pah
  12. My Name
  13. As Long As He Needs Me
  14. I’d Do Anything
  15. Who Will Buy?
  16. Reviewing the Situation
  17. Oliver! (Reprise)
  18. As Long As He Needs Me (Reprise)
  19. Reviewing the Situation (Reprise)
  20. Finale: Food Glorious Food / Consider Yourself / I’d Do Anything

Songs on Soundtrack:

Song Title (Performers) [time]

  1. Overture
  2. Food, Glorious Food / Oliver!
  3. Boy for Sale
  4. Where Is Love?
  5. You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket Or Two
  6. Consider Yourself
  7. I’d Do Anything
  8. Be Back Soon
  9. As Long As He Needs Me
  10. Who Will Buy?
  11. Reviewing the Situation
  12. Oom-Pah-Pah
  13. Finale (Where Is Love?/Consider Yourself)

Singles/Hit Songs:

These were covers of songs from this musical which became hits:

  • ”As Long As He Needs Me” – Shirley Bassey (#2 UK, 1960)


4.284 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings for cast album and soundtrack combined)

Awards (Cast Album and Soundtrack): (Click on award to learn more).

About the Show:

This musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist was quite a phenomenon in its day, beginning as a modest, fringe-type production in London and becoming an international smash hit. The show boasted a melodic score by composer-lyricist-librettist Lionel Bart, innovative sets by Sean Kenny, fluid direction by Peter Coe, and orchestrations and arrangements that were simple, clear, and direct.” CA

About the London Cast Album:

“On this cast recording, the now-legendary performance of Ron Moody as Fagin is vibrant and unforgettable. Georgia Brown makes the part of Nancy her own; her husky voice throbs with emotion, and she is entirely believable as a woman of the Victorian underworld. Her rendition of As Long as He Needs Me is definitive. Also excellent are Keith Hamshere as Oliver and Martin Horsey as the Artful Dodger.” CA

About the Broadway Cast Album:

“Although Clive Revill gives a fine performance as Fagin, his characterization isn’t as colorful and eccentric as that of Ron Moody of the original London cast. But this Broadway album does have Georgia Brown recreating her landmark role of Nancy, as powerfully as ever. Bruce Prochnik sings well as Oliver, Michael Goodman is a fine Artful Dodger, and Willoughby Goddard is well cast as Mr. Bumble. With musical director Donald Pippin breathing new life into the score, the tempi are brighter than on the London album, although the earlier effort is fresher on the whole and more authentic in atmosphere. RCA’s ‘Living Stereo’ sound is superior. An interesting note is that this recording was made in Los Angeles, where the show’s pre-Broadway tour began; by the time the production reached New York, Michael Goodman had been replaced as the Artful Dodger by David Jones, who went on to become famous as one of The Monkees.” CA

About the Soundtrack:

“Earning six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the film version of Oliver! was masterfully directed by Sir Carol Reed, with the grand score given a bigger-than-big-movie-musical treatment. Under the direction of maestro Johnny Green, the orchestrations and choral arrangements heard on the soundtrack recording are layered with counterpoint, but the overall effect is appropriate to the alternating opulence and squalor of the story’s various settings. Lionel Bart’s songs stand up beautifully to the elaborate scoring, and the performances are as vivid as the orchestrations. At the forefront is Ron Moody, who outdoes his own fine work as Fagin on the original London cast album. Equally excellent is Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger; with his charming Cockney accent, he offers the best account of the role on record. Shani Wallis sings with great warmth and conviction as Nancy, and Harry Secombe as Mr. Bumble displays a superb tenor that elevates the title song and Boy for Sale to classic level. The one off-note is Kathe Green (daughter of Johnny), who sounds a bit phony and overly sweet in her dubbing of Oliver’s songs for Mark Lester.” CA

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 12/24/2021.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frank Loesser: Top 30 Songs

First posted 12/8/2019.

image from

Musical theater composer Frank Loesser was born 100 years ago today on 6/29/1910 in New York City, NY. Best known for Broadway musicals Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Died 7/28/1969. For a complete list of this act’s DMDB honors, check out the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry.

Top 30 Songs

Dave’s Music Database lists are determined by song’s appearances on best-of lists as well as chart success, sales, radio airplay, streaming, and awards. Many of these songs have been recorded multiple times. Only the highest-ranked version in Dave’s Music Database is included in this list. The recording artist is noted in parentheses. Songs which hit #1 on these charts are noted: United States Billboard Hot 100 pop chart (US), Hit Parade (HP), United Kingdom pop chart (UK), and Australian pop chart (AU).

DMDB Top 1%:

1. Jingle Jangle Jingle (Kay Kyser with Harry Babbitt & Julie Conway, 1942) #1 US, HP
2. Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition (Kay Kyser & the Glee Club, 1942) #1 US

DMDB Top 5%:

3. On a Slow Boat to China (Kay Kyser with Harry Babbitt & Gloria Wood, 1948) #1 HP, AU
4. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Johnny Mercer & Margaret Whiting, 1949)
5. Says My Heart (Red Norvo with Mildred Bailey, 1938) #1 US, HP
6. Two Sleepy People (Fats Waller, 1938) #1 US
7. Heart and Soul (Larry Clinton & Bea Wain, 1938) #1 US
8. I Don’t Want to Walk Without You (Harry James, 1942) #1 US, HP
9. They’re Either Too Young or Too Old (Jimmy Dorsey with Kitty Kallen, 1943)
10. My Darling, My Darling (Jo Stafford with Gordon MacRae, 1948) #1 US

11. The Lady’s in Love with You (Glenn Miller with Tex Beneke, 1939)
12. I Wish I Didn’t Love You So (Vaughn Monroe, 1947) #1 HP
13. Small Fry (Bing Crosby with Johnny Mercer, 1938)
14. Let’s Get Lost (Vaughn Monroe with the Four Lee Sisters, 1943) #1 US, HP
15. Say It Over and Over Again (Glenn Miller, 1940)

DMDB Top 10%:

16. Dolores (Bing Crosby, 1941)
17. A Bushel and a Peck (Perry Como with Betty Hutton & Mitchell Ayres’ Orchestra, 1950) #1 HP
18. Once in Love with Amy (Ray Bolger with Sy Oliver, 1949)
19. Spring Will Be a Little Later This Year (Morton Downey with Johnny Lytell, 1944)
20. Hoop-Dee-Doo (Perry Como with the Fontane Sisters & Mitchell Ayres’ Orchestra, 1950) #1 US

DMDB Top 20%:

21. Can’t Get Out of This Mood (Kay Kyser with Harry Babbitt, 1942)
22. Luck Be a Lady (Frank Sinatra, 1965)
23. Standing on the Corner (The Four Lads, 1956)
24. How Sweet You Are (Kay Armen & the Balladiers, 1943)
25. The Moon of Manakoora (Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra, 1936)
26. If I Were a Bell (Frankie Laine, 1950)
27. A Woman in Love (Frankie Laine, 1955) #1 UK
28. Sand in My Shoes (Connee Boswell with Victor Young’s Orchestra, 1941)

Beyond the DMDB Top 20%:

29. I’ve Never Been in Love Before (Robert Alda with Isabel Bigley, 1950)
30. I Hear Music (Robert Paige with Peter Lind Hayes, Frank Jenks, & Eddie Quillan; 1940)


Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Styx Defense

Sparked by a Facebook post, I gloriously came to the defense of my first favorite band – Styx. In the world of musical journalism, professing a love of Styx is somewhat akin to telling the science world that evolutionism is bogus.

To be fair, in his original post on his Todays Song Is ... fan page, Michael Crawley acknowledges the dichotomy of fan love vs. critical drubbing. In picking Styx’s “Suite Madame Blue” as the song of the day, he says it “is steeped in the Yes/Zeppelin fusion that was attractive early on but got old right about the time ‘Blue Collar Man’ hit the airwaves. I do love this song, but it’s sorta like an old girlfriend who later went around the block a few too many times.”

My response: “Critics be damned. Styx was my first favorite band and I’ll always like them.” I’d posted a similar sentiment as far back as September 5, 2009: “Styx may get mocked for being at the forefront of the late-‘70s/early ‘80s stadium rock movement, but they were my first favorite band and Paradise Theater was my first favorite album. You never get that out of your system!”

Click photo for more about ‘Paradise Theater’.

Michael was one of my first fans when I started my Dave’s Music Database Facebook page. Between our comments on each other’s pages, I’ve probably shared more musical dialogue with Michael than anyone in the last six months. We share a mutual respect for passion over music and, so far, have not come to cyberspace blows over musical opinions.

Having said all that, I still felt like a dagger had been plunged into my soul (okay, in reality I only winced slightly) with his comment that “from Pieces of Eight on they kinda sucked IMHO.” I declined retaliating that “Babe”, off the follow-up 1979 Cornerstone album, was my first “official” favorite song. Such an admission would have required 1) confessing that I liked such an unabashedly saccharine song and, 2) acknowledging that oh-so-many-years-ago I launched my own weekly music chart and that “Babe” was the maiden chart topper.

Iinstead I boldly and loudly proclaimed that Paradise Theater was one of my top 5 favorite albums. Okay, truth be told, I followed my declaration with “bows head in shame.”

I didn’t advocate that “The Best of Times”, “Too Much Time on My Hands”, and “Rockin’ the Paradise” have become deserved album rock classics since airplay doesn’t equal critical acclaim. I didn’t respond that this was a #1 album (their solitary chart-topper, in fact) and fourth consecutive triple-platinum album. That might win an argument over the album’s commercial success, but it doesn’t go far in proving its critical worth.

Since great artwork doesn’t equal great music, I also didn’t gush about the album packaging with a front picture of Chicago’s Paradise Theater in its prime paired with a back cover of it long past its glory days. Similarly, while I was originally intrigued by the album’s theme – a lament about abandoning the old in favor of the new – I realize now how loose and unoriginal the concept was.

Instead, I quoted from Steve Almond’s Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, a book from a self-proclaimed “Drooling Fanatic” and an inspiration for a previous DMDB blog entry (“The Musical Hierarchy Ladder”). Among his humorous essays is a defense of Paradise Theater in which he admits “I loved Styx and...still love Styx and not ironically either.” He says that even though “Styx has become the mullet of bands”, he still feels good when he listens to Paradise Theater.

Buy the book.

So do I. That’s the thing about loving a band – you love them regardless of their critical status or commercial clout. You love them because – well, just because you love them. Almond suggests that critics would do well to be more open-minded, stating that “if the human ear is given a chance, not cowed into snobbery, it can find rewards in almost any form of music.”

The discussion Michael and I started on his Facebook page carried over to mine when I professed my love of Tears for Fears’ Songs from the Big Chair. In defending the album, I said I’d use “the Styx defense”, my earlier declaration that one likes what one likes, critics be damned. On Michael’s page, I originally quoted another Almond line, which should be the mantra for all people ever faced with defending music that they love: “you can’t tell someone his or her ears are wrong.”

To Michael’s credit, this was his response on his page to my defense of Styx: “I close this with a tidbit from Cole or Dylan Sprouse when they played Julian on the movie Big Daddy – Styx is the greatest band in the world and they only got a bad rep because most critics are cynical A$$holes!”

That’s good enough for me. I’ll close with that, too.

This essay, “The Musical Hierarchy Ladder”, and more are included in the book ‘No One Needs 21 Versions of ‘Purple Haze’…And Other Essays from a Musical Obsessive’. Click for more info.

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Musical Hierarchy Ladder

Thanks to Steve Almond’s book Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, I’ve pondered my status as what Almond calls a “Drooling Fanatic.” Almond describes them as people “who walk around with songs ringing in our ears at all hours, who acquire albums compulsively, …and cannot resist telling other people – people frankly not that interested – what they should be listening to and why.”

Buy the book.

This got me pondering. “Drooling Fanatics” or music geeks, have heads full of knowledge that no one else wants. They obsess about albums that no one else owns and blabber about bands no one has heard of. They may even play an instrument – although poorly enough that no one has ever paid money to hear them. However, this person may have made money as – horror of horrors, a music critic.

Even with all those strikes against them, the music geek is NOT the bottom of the barrel. But before railing on those who don’t even deserve the DF’s respect, let’s “oooh” and “aaah” at those on top of the musical hierarchy ladder. This ladder falls into four basic categories, which, in my true music geek nature, I will then subcategorize.

Those Who Create Music

The Star. Has had actual success making a living as a musician – and we’re not talking the weekly 7:00 Friday slot at some local pub while making one’s true living at a print shop. No, no. This is someone who can actually feed, clothe, and house him or herself based entirely on money made from playing music.

The Performer. Okay, these are the guys who still work at the print shop while moonlighting at that local pub. They’ve never made it big and probably never will, but they can boast to having done paying gigs, even if it all got blown on beer before the night was through (or the payment actually was beer).

The Instrumentalist. Whether by piano lessons that Mom insisted would build character or by noodling around on a guitar for hours while other high schoolers were going to football games and proms and generally pursuing some semblance of a social life, this person can play some kind of instrument in such a manner that another human being can actually identify what is being played.

The Singer. This isn’t as simple as the person who warbled in the shower or performed concerts to an audience comprised only of oneself in the bathroom mirror. No, this person pretty much has to be credentialed in some manner – they’ve had formal training, they can boast of getting a 1 at state, they were in a choir, something. Building up alcohol-inspired courage to get on stage at karaoke night on a bet does NOT qualify one as a singer.

Image from

Those Who Possess the Ability to Pass on Music

The Teacher. You know those piano lessons you took for three years from about age 8 to 11? This was your torturer, the person who made you do scales while you dreamed of being the next Elton John or Billy Joel. This was also that choir teacher in 10th grade who coached your way to state while you were forced to approximate Celine Dion with your vocal gymnastics.

The Scenester. This person not only knows who’s performing at every local dive in town, but they’ve been to all of them. They boast of number one status for some local band that is so local that anyone beyond a 25-mile radius has never heard of them. For that matter, most people within that radius don’t known anything of the band, either.

The DJ. This could be either a radio disc jockey or the turntable spinner at a dance club. These people probably began as scenesters and, most likely, are continuing to build that cred but now getting paid while they do it. I’m not sure the wedding DJ fits here, however. The person who thrusts “The Chicken Dance” on the world over and over has to suffer by dropping a few more notches on the musical hierarchy ladder.

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Those Who Possess the Ability to Trivialize Music to Death

The Musicologist. This person may not be able to tell you the difference between a bass clef and a treble clef, but they will be able to dissect in great detail a bootleg of a 1995 Phish concert in which the band played a 15-minute rendition of “Split Open and Melt.”

The Collector. It’s all about the numbers, folks. While the musicologist may have 125 bootlegs of the Grateful Dead and little else, the Collector is more prone to boast of an album collection of at least four figures. This person has probably also made more than a few mix tapes over the years.

For sake of full disclosure, this is basically where I, your humble author, would fall. I have no musical ability or talent and can be dumbfounded by even the simplest of music theory discussions. I can, however, generally point out a CD or two in most friends’ and family members’ collections which I made for them. I also have more Marillion and Kevin Gilbert albums than most people you’ll ever meet. Who are they, you ask? Exactly.

Image from

Those Who Possess the Ability to Strip Music of All Enjoyment Whatsoever

The Critic. Likely a wannabe performer, instrumentalist, or singer. Almost definitely a scenester, musicologist and collector all rolled into one. However, the critic has destroyed any status any of these higher states might have afforded him by presuming, and pretentiously so, to have an opinion on music far greater than, well, anyone else’s. They relish in pointing out others’ poor tastes while touting the merits of their favorite indie-rock band flavor of the month. The worst kind of critic even gets paid to do this.

The music geek is generally a mix of the three elements above. Maybe this person has dabbled in teaching or even performing, thus lifting his or her status even higher. However, all credibility is gone and the music geek becomes the absolute bottom of the barrel if he or she should stoop so low as to become…

The Executive. The only person more loathed in the music world than a critic is the suit – the person paid the big bucks by some major record company to be a tastemaker. This generally means plugging into the next big thing which basically means finding what can best be marketed to a tween, teen, and/or adult market. If you are over 30, your musical dollar means nothing to the music exec, but the concert promoter will happily take your dough whenever your favorite geezer act trots its twenty-third trek across the United States in support of their eight-album discography – of which the last album was released six years ago.

Digital Haters. This is a special breed, generally a mix of the critic and the executive. This is NOT an assessment of those capable of lengthy rants about how much warmer and cleaner music sounds on LP; that’s more musicologist territory. Similarly, those independent record companies and music stores who still actually love music more than money are exempt from this category.

No, digital haters are those industry folks who continuously whine about how digital music is destroying the music industry. They rail on fans (or in the case of the RIAA, even sue them) for ruining the industry by picking and choosing only certain songs by artists (and often downloading them for free) instead of buying the long-overpriced album that the record companies shoved down people’s throats for so many years. Check your bank accounts – if your pockets are lined with money made from blockbuster albums forced on the public in the ‘90s, then hush. You “stole” a lot more money from fans than they’ve taken from you.

Image from

And on that happy note, we come to an end of this, no doubt, inspiring guide to those who pump music full of soul and those who suck it back out again. Worthy of note – I started this essay while midway through Almond’s Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life and later stumbled across his own chapter (“On the Varieites of Fanatical Experience”) which charts similar territory. Of course, you’ll have to shell out some bucks to read his opinion, while my musical brain droppings are, for now, still completely free. Someday, I too hope to reach the level of a Steve Almond where people willingly fork over their hard-earned cash for my musical opinions and observations. Beware – the world will probably come to an end shortly after.

For daily doses of my musical obsession, check out Dave's Music Database on Facebook.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Katy Perry hit #1 with “California Gurls”

California Gurls

Katy Perry with Snoop Dogg

Writer(s): Katy Perry/Lukasz Gottwald/Max Martin/Benjamin Levin/Bonnie McKee/Calvin Broadus (see lyrics here)

Released: May 11, 2010

First Charted: May 16, 2010

Peak: 16 US, 13 BA, 15 DG, 17 RR, 7 AC, 19 A40, 12 UK, 19 CA, 14 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.2 UK, 13.07 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 748.91 video, 659.0 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Katy Perry hit the big time when she reached #1 with “I Kissed a Girl” from her 2008 album One of the Boys. Despite several follow-up hits, including the top-five “Hot N Cold” there were some who considered her just another pop flash-in-the-pan. However, her next album, Teenage Dream, proved she wasn’t a fluke when its lead single, “California Gurls” debuted at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week ending May 29, 2010 and was #1 within four weeks. The song spent six weeks atop the charts and within two months sold over two million digital downloads.

The song was written in response to Jay-Z’s New York tribute song “Empire State of Mind.” Perry told Rolling Stone “it’s been a minute since we’ve had a California song and especially from a girl’s perspective.” WK She was also interested in doing an “homage to the Beach Boys,” SF which apparently succeeded considering MTV News’ James Montgomery assessment of it as “a big, bright, decidedly beach-friendly pop tune.” WK

To add to the California vibe, Perry tapped rapper Snoop Dogg as a guest artist, saying “Snoop is as West Coast as it gets.” SF As for the spelling of the title, Perry’s manager was a huge Big Star fan and suggested misspelling the title as an ode to the group’s “September Gurls.”

The song was followed to the top by “Teenage Dream”, “Firework”, “E.T.,” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” making her only the second artist overall to top the charts with five songs from one album. The first was Michael Jackson with five #1 songs from his 1987 album Bad. BB She also set a new record for consecutive weeks (66) in the top 10, beating the previous mark of 48 weeks by Ace of Base in 1993-94. BB


Related Links:

Last updated 7/28/2023.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Taio Cruz “Dynamite” charted


Taio Cruz

Writer(s): Taio Cruz, Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, Max Martin, Benny Blanco, Bonnie McKee (see lyrics here)

Released: May 30, 2010

First Charted: June 13, 2010

Peak: 2 US, 14 RR, 15 AC, 5 A40, 11 UK, 11 CN, 14 AU (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 1.2 UK, 11.13 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.4 radio, 346.2 video, 902.41 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Singer/songwriter and producer Taio Cruz was born Adetayo Ayowale Onile-Ere in 1980 in London, England. He released his debut album, Departure, in 2008. It reached #17 in the UK, but failed to chart in the United States. However, his follow-up, 2009’s Rokstarr, was a top-ten album in the US. thanks to the singles “Break Your Heart” (#1) and “Dynamite” (#2). The latter was held out from the top spot by Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie.”

Dr. Luke and Max Martin wrote the melody for the song and also produced the track. The pair had both worked on #1 hits by Katy Perry (“I Kissed a Girl”) and Kelly Clarkson (“My Life Would Suck Without You”). Martin was also behind chart-toppers by Britney Spears (“Baby One More Time”) and Pink (“So What”) while Dr. Luke also worked on #1 hits by Avril Lavigne (“Girlfriend”), Flo Rida (“Right Round”), and Ke$ha (“Tik Tok”). The latter also featured songwriting by Benny Blanco, who also worked on “Dynamite.”

Bonnie McKee wrote lyrics for the song. She said it “was the dumbest song I had ever written and [I] thought it was going nowhere. And I actually think it was the biggest song I have written so far.” WK She said it was originally intended for Flo Rida. SF Cruz said the song “is about when you go to the club and when you go to a party and when you’re just going out…you got to feel like, ‘I’m just gonna explode.’” WK

The song is set in a club, but is “mostly about dancing and having a good time – there are no specific references to drinking, hooking up, or other club-related activity.” SF It helped make it “an all-purpose party track” SF suitable for all ages. Digital Spy’s Nick Levine called it “a suitably Eurohousey club pumper” WK that is “a cheap, tasty, and entirely satisfying banger.” WK


First posted 7/29/2023.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Crowded House released Intriguer


Crowded House

Released: June 11, 2010

Peak: 50 US, 12 UK, 11 AU

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: adult alternative rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Saturday Sun (4/17/10, --)
  2. Archer’s Arrows
  3. Amsterdam
  4. Either Side of the World (8/28/10, --)
  5. Falling Dove
  6. Isolation
  7. Twice if You’re Lucky (11/8/10, --)
  8. Inside Out
  9. Even If
  10. Elephants

The Players:

  • Neil Finn (vocals, guitar, piano)
  • Nick Seymour (bass)
  • Mark Hart (piano, keyboards, electric guitar)
  • Matt Sherrod (drums)


3.450 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)

About the Album:

Crowded House formed as an offshoot of Split Enz, a band initially helmed by Tim Finn, but later handed off to little brother Neil. Neil developed a more commercial sound which evolved into Crowded House and the #2 U.S. hit “Don’t Dream It’s Over” in 1987. The band would record four albums in less than a decade’s time, but folded up their tent after 1993’s Together Alone. Neil spent the next decade and then some on solo projects and collaborations with brother Tim before reconnecting with House mate Nick Seymour in the wake of original Crowded House member Paul Hester’s suicide. Neil’s intended solo project at the time transformed into a comeback for Crowded House, the 2007 set Time on Earth.

Proving that wasn’t just a one-off reunion, Finn and Seymour return again with multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart and drummer Matt Sherrod, who had done some work on the Time on Earth album and return here as full-fledged band members. The group brought producer Jim Scott (who’d worked with Wilco) on board, “who then continued to produce the whole album in Finn’s studio, Roundhead Studios in Auckland, New Zealand.” WK The band also “hired various guest musicians throughout the recording process, including multiinstrumentalist Don McGlashan, Lisa Germano on violin, Jon Brion on vocals and guitars, James Milne on additional vocals, and Finn’s wife Sharon and son, Liam Finn contribute backing vocals and guitars, respectively.” WK

Considering Time on Earth began as a Neil solo effort, it is no surprise that this is “more of a band effort.” TH The group “settle into comfortable craft on Intriguer,” STE having “managed to arrive at a certain age without either denying their mortality or seeming defeated by it.” EG This “isn’t as self-consciously weighty as Time on Earth,” STE understandable since that album grew out of the band mourning for Hester, and “it’s also not as hazy as Finn’s pair of solo LPs. In tone and timbre, it’s closest to the second Finn Brothers album, the ruminative Everyone Is Here, but it lacks the reflective undertow of that 2004 album; it may be subdued, but it’s not reveling in its melancholy, it’s riding a gentle wave, swaying from song to song.” STE

“Finn claims to have experimented with new sounds here,” TH saying “Intriguer is exotic in parts, traditional in origin.” AZ Certainly “there are songs that bristle with ambition, with strange undercurrents and scuffed melodies.” MC Indeed, “the tempo gets slightly heated” STE at times – “Inside Out works a nicely grinding guitar riff” STE while “opening track Saturday Sun, with its squalling electronics buzzing beneath vigorous guitars” MC and a vocoder which offers “a ghostly and effective touch.” TH The song is “unexpectedly reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s The Eternal.” MC

Overall, though, the album “doesn’t mess with the Crowded House formula.” TH “Finn’s handling of a tune remains strong and his poetic sense of place, familiar to fans of the band, remains.” TH However, “those hoping for the instantly gratifying melodies of catalogue classics like ‘Weather With You’ will have to dig a little deeper” TH as Intriguer “doesn’t command attention so much as it teases it.” STE Some songs “plod amiably along, as comfortable as a fraying pair of slippers,” MC such as the “anaesthetised 1950s doo-wop meets late-1960s psychedelia of Isolation.” MC To non-fans, “the album's more conventionally crafted pop songs…invariably sound dull” MC but for fans, songs like “the gently shuffling Twice if You’re Lucky will be perfection itself.” MC

There’s also “the wistful dreaming of Amsterdam and the joyful atmospherics of Either Side of the World, with its loose samba beat and disco-influenced piano (actually inspired by John Paul Young’s ‘Love Is in the Air’). The subtlety in the strength of material like the radio-friendly ‘Saturday Sun’ and the gently epic Archer’s Arrows bears out the band’s instinct not to take their experimentation to excess.” TH

While the album may not be loaded with hits, the “light touch suits Finn’s songs; he’s favoring subtle craftsmanship over immediate hooks” STE as he “crafts songs that capture the enduring thrills and chills of life and love after youth. He and his band deliver them with a grace that doesn’t detract from their rueful punch.” EG The mood of the album “is soothing, something that pays off great dividends upon close listens. It may not be flashy but it’s sturdy and expertly honed.” STE “There are muddied moments which let some songs down: Elephants, for example, fails to transcend its ponderous title. But these dips are infrequent, and occur towards the end of the album.” TH

In the end, Intriguer holds “together better as an album than any Finn project in recent memory.” STE Finn himself says of the album, “It may just be the best thing we’ve done.” AZ

Notes: A special edition of the album includes a live DVD.

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Last updated 6/4/2021.