Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ‘em all here.
Artist: Crowded House
Title: Temple Of Low Men
Original Release: 1988
Store: Parramatta Town Hall, Church St, Parramatta
(Original AU pressing)
Parramatta Record Fair is one of the staples of the Sydney record collecting scene. It has been going for many years. I went to my first one around ’98. You would see flyers for it in every record store. Twice a year, you’d make your way out to Parramatta, and fight it out with the various anoraks and weirdos that make up the record collecting set.
I’ve been away for years, and it’s like going back to your old family home. Has it shrunk? Or have I grown? There didn’t seem to be as many stalls as previous years. The variety was missing too. Secondhand CDs are worth almost nothing these days. And lots and lots of old records – and not selling for that much either.
It was a delight in the late 90s and early 00s. For all of the music industry’s excess, it was high time for quality CD box sets, and fancy promo items. Now you’re just fighting over a $5 Randy Newman album.
There is so much to say about this world. Like the way people treat eachother. Or the pair of charming older ladies talking to stall owners about gigs they once saw. Or the pair of young girls, who were impressively out of place. But that will be a story for another day.
$5 each or $10 for 3. You’d see that in a lot of boxes. For years I’ve avoided them, looking for more precious jewels. But this little blog project has set me back going through them. In one of these boxes I found this album – Temple of Low Men by Crowded House. Amongst 20 or 30 purchases that day.
I could have written about quite a few albums but this one is interesting. First of all, it’s not that easy to find. You see the first album around a lot, but this one is a bit rarer. And not because it’s more hunted… probably because it is less loved.
Common concensus is that this is the least of those early Crowded House albums. The debut, self titled Crowded House is an established classic (and Triple J listener’s favourite), and Woodface was the hit record with the best story. Together Alone has been reassesed in recent years, and has been declared an underrated classic. Which leaves us with Temple Of Low Men.
And yes, I would also say this is the 4th best album by early Crowded House. But it is a fantastic album. It just had two things set against it. It was a bit all over the shop stylistically. And it is hopelessly sad compared to their hopeful debut.
As the years go by, we see more and more that Neil Finn is powered by his melancholy. He can write a snappy tune with the best of them, but his body of work is tied to sadness. It’s just his radio hits that are bright. And it is this side of Neil Finn that blooms more than ever on this album.
Let’s not forget all the great songs on here. ‘Into Temptation‘ is the best ‘sad’ song Finn has ever written. ‘I Feel Possessed‘ is spooky and mysterious, and gifted with a chorus that most songwriters would kill for. And there’s ‘Better Be Home Soon‘. A song that everyone in Australia knows, and should have been a smash.
In a way, this album was the end of Crowded House. The bright, sunny joker-y of the first album could not be sustained. Tim Finn gave it a shot in the arm, but one more failure and it was all over.
Together Alone was hardly a failure.
What are your thoughts on Time On Earth and Intriguer?
I guess I meant internationally, it did not live up to the success people wanted. And was perceived as a bit weird.
I love Time On Earth more than Intriguer. But I don’t see them as Crowded House albums really. It’s almost lie Neil Finn and Crowded House, like Neil Young and Crazy Horse.