21 March 2008


For me 1998 was a great year for discovering music. Actually, 1998 was a great year for discovering familiar music. Ten years on they still hold true.

Blink 182 was in the process of recording their mega-hit album Enema Of The State, which is truly a technically brilliant album. There is no finer drummer than Travis Barker at that point (say what you will about Neil Peart, Barker was a refreshing new sound to the familiar and intricate riffs we all grew up with, not to diminish Peart).

Bic Runga, New Zealand chanteuse and all around goddess of all she vocalizes released her first single (Sway, which is mostly known by the American audiences as the sex song from American Pie) and the brilliant debut album, Drive. I say 'brilliant', but that stands because we are talking about 1998. Her albums have progressively gotten more and more amazing, piquing with 2005's transcendent Birds.

And finally, also from New Zealand, a man who needs no introduction but will get one. He assumed the lead guitar role and eventually headed New Zealand's top band and musical export of the 1970s and 1980s, Split Enz, and wrote some of their biggest hits including the 80s international staple I Got You; he founded the international hit band Crowded House and penned one of the most recognizable pop ballads even today with Don't Dream It's Over; he frequently collaborated with his older brother Tim in almost every musical endeavor the tow of them have ever participated in; he is father to Liam who's band Betchadupa has also received international recognition in the past few years; he has drawn the likes of Eddie Vedder, Johnny Marr, members of Radiohead, Wendy and Lisa of Prince's Revolution, Sheryl Crow, Sinead O'Connor, and Lisa Germano among the many into his backing band; he co-wrote hits for other people including Every Day Is A Winding Road by Sheryl Crow (on which he also sings back up) and Silent House by the Dixie Chicks; and his most recent role has been fairly low key touring pianist and backing vocalist for Bic Runga's band.

Of course, he is the great Neil Finn.

Neil Finn at age 22 changing pop music history
with Split Enz and I Got You.

5 years later with Crowded House
and an even bigger success.

With friends (see the list above)
and her first solo hit.

The unassuming piano man and perfection herself
in 2005.

After 21 years as a professional musician (not counting when he would open for his brother Tim's band Split Enz at age 13 as a solo act) Neil Finn finally decided to release an official solo album. The result was 1998's beautiful Try Whistling This. The album is incredible. It begins like a railway station and ends with a dream. In between he dabbles in undying romance(Try Whistling This), the carnal (King Tide--I swear to this day this song is about oral sex), redemption (Sinner), the perfect pop song (She Will Have Her Way), and barren, wind-swept emptiness of the soul (the eerie yet enrapturing Astro). The dreaming begins around track 9 (Truth) and ends with track 14 on a moving dream train to other places ('feels like this train might never stop...', Addicted).

It would be another 3 years until Finn would continue the journey with 2001's One Nil (and the American version, 2002's One All. In a strange note, the track Turn And Run was an chilling lyrical premonition of the events of 9/11 that didn't go unnoticed by the Frenz (Split Enz and all related music fans), though nothing was ever mentioned officially about it. The song itself was written months, even years prior to that tragic day.

Whatever the case, I've decided to include the last track of Try Whistling This, Addicted. You can hear where the journey ends. This is an album I highly recommend you go out and find for yourself and get keyed in to how it all got to this point.

Thank you, Neil Finn.


Neil Finn - Addicted

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