AFTERGLOW

DAVE VEITCH

, Last Updated: 1:44 PM ET


AFTERGLOW
Crowded House
(EMI)

Neil Finn needn't entertain second thoughts about what songs he put on Crowded House's four studio albums or, perhaps more importantly, what songs he left off.

 Afterglow (in stores Tuesday) collects 13 tracks that were never released or hidden away on B-sides and, aside from a few sterling exceptions, you can hear why these songs didn't make the final cut.

  It's just small stuff, really: A tempo that drags a bit, an instrumental passage that ends up meandering, a melody that needs more sparkle, an arrangement that doesn't quite fit. The equivalent of a missed stitch on an Armani suit, essentially.

 While there's nothing here as perfectly perky as Something So Strong and It's Only Natural, or as poignant and affecting as Distant Sun or Better Be Home Soon, Finn's high standards of tunesmithery assure even his flawed, dust-binned songs would be coveted by anyone who appreciates an upbeat melody married to a downbeat lyric.

 That, of course, is a Finn specialty.

 The deceptively titled I Am In Love proves to be bitter and caustic, while a love song to his wife brilliantly explodes the myth of rock stardom: "Above the billboard and the hordes/Magazines and rock awards/We can't afford to pay our bills."

 Those two songs, along with the jangly Sacred Cow and crunchy You Can Touch, are still good enough to be called great, lost Crowded House gems, while a sparse demo of Private Universe captures more of the song's melancholy spirit than the finished version on Together Alone.

  Not the best Crowded House record, but for fans still reeling from the band's dissolution, hearing Afterglow will be like finding a winning lottery ticket in an old pair of jeans.

Track Listing 1.I Am In Love
  02.Sacred
  03.You Can Touch
  04.Help Is Coming
  05.I Love You Dawn
  06.Dr Livingstone
  07.My Telly's Gone Bung
  08.Private Universe
  09.Lester
  10.Anyoe Can Tell
  11.Recurring Dream
  12.Left Hand
  13.Time Immemorial
  14.Neil Finn
 


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