Thanks to Youri Lenquette for the rear cover photo, Nic Seymour for the Crowded House, Brooklyn Projects and Dugald McAndrew drawings, Phil Dracoulis and Mark Woods for the mastering and Crowded House for supporting roadies and crew.
The CD set was first streamed as two separate tapes, through ARCA’s incredibly successful Desk Tape Series, which consists of live recordings straight off the mixing desk and made by a crew member, in this case legendary sound engineers Bruce Johnston and Angus Davidson.
The combined album collects some of the most beautiful pop songs ever written.
These include ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, ‘Mean To Me’, ‘It’s Only Natural’, ‘Better Be Home Soon’, ‘Weather With You’, ‘Fall At Your Feet’, ‘Hole In The River’, ‘Sister Madly’, ‘Chocolate Cake’, ‘Kare Kare’, ‘Pineapple Head’, ‘Locked Out’ and ‘Distant Sun’.
By 2021, Crowded House had sold over 15 million albums worldwide.
But it is in concerts that they brought a sense of time to these timeless songs, with their improvised humour through whacky onstage patter and the occasional onstage practical jokes on fans.
For Neil Finn, the stage also provided a leveller to Crowed House songs, where non radio hits like ‘Recurring Dream’, ‘In My Command’ and ‘Catherine Wheels’ get as much applause from the fervent fans as those which were.
“Music always travels in mysterious ways,” he admits. “I can’t say I understand why one song is a hit and another one’s not.”
ARCA’s releases are hailed as also capturing important freeze-frames of Australian music history through visuals and liner notes.
They are not only reminders of past golden eras for older fans but places where younger consumers can start discovering homegrown music.
There are always interesting stories behind Crowded House songs.
The Crowded House
There’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, which reached #2 in the United States, #1 in New Zealand and Canada, and Top 10 in Australia, Norway and the Netherlands.
Neil was feeling lost at the time and wanted to write a song about moving forward. He penned it at his brother Tim’s home, to find quiet there as his sibling was away.
But drummer Paul Hester was staying there and had friends over, so while Neil wrote behind closed doors in the piano room, out came the line “when the world comes in”.
“Try to catch a deluge in a paper cup” is a homage to his musical hero John Lennon who used the line “Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” on ‘Across The Universe’.
The song came together quickly and Neil made a demo of it as soon as he returned to his home, using a matchbox as a snare drum and tapping the table as his bass drum.
The original had a R&B/soul feel and Crowded House found it difficult when they rehearsed it.
In the studio, producer Mitchell Froom suggested changing the flavour, and also it shift key from E to E# to make it more melancholy.
Years after its release, fans remain divided on whether the song is of hope or if the title means “don’t dream (anymore because) it’s over”.
According to bassist Nick Seymour: “You think the song is gloomy? The record’s about not giving up hope and succumbing to the effects of the mass media and consumerism, but there’s an over-riding positive view in all our songs.”
Other questions come when one listens to LIVE ’92 – ’94.
Which Finn infant shouted out phrases as “the detective is flat” and “the get-away car” while hallucinating during an illness?
Which song did Neil introduce at Crowded House’s ‘Farewell To The World’ concert as “This is a song about waking up in a room with my sister having nightmares!”
Why did Neil specifically perform ‘Better Be Home Soon’ at the ARIA awards in Sydney as a farewell to drummer Paul Hester after his death?