While his younger brother Neil ended up with larger commercial success in Crowded House (though Tim was with the band on its most successful album), Tim has been a great pop musician since he co-founded Split Enz in the early ’70s, making everything from arty pop to fun new wave to plain old fashioned good singer-songwriter stuff. Although his recent solo records have been hard to find, he still writes terrific songs. Moreover, it’s still a kick to think that one of the most handsome rock singers ever used to wear garish makeup, crazy costumes and the oddest haircuts that anyone has ever worn on stage. This man deserves a birthday tribute, so grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
Rich Creamy Paint — I Found Love (Rich Creamy Paint): During the mid to late ’90s, there was a fleeting moment where it looked like the indie power pop revival might make the mainstream, and the major labels signed a few acts. One of these acts was Rich Painter, who performed under the unfortunate moniker Rich Creamy Paint. His sole major label platter is big and brassy teenage pop (in the ’70s sense, not the modern sense) with lots of big hooks. This is a mid-tempo ballady number that still manages to find a couple of spots for crunchy guitars.
Psychedelic Furs — All That Money Wants (All Of This And Nothing): The first three Furs albums are all great, though each takes a somewhat different approach. From that point forward, the Furs were a lot more hit and miss. This track, which was appended to a “hits” compilation, is somewhat in the Talk Talk Talk mold (and could have been recorded for that album for all I know). It has some psych-jangle guitar and Richard Butler’s sore throated world weary voice.
Nazareth — Ship Of Dreams (Malice In Wonderland): The Scottish hard rock band, best known for its cover of “Love Hurts”, took a mellower direction on this 1980 album. This has a bit of a California ’70s rock vibe, and the band shows some heretofore unknown harmonizing skill. Moreover, some of the songs, such as this one, have a bit of a darker aspect than the typical Laurel Canyon tune, making for music that is inviting yet a bit unsettling. A real underrated gem of an album.
Dolly Parton — Highway Headin’ South (Mission Chapel Memories): A great upbeat Dolly tune with a bit of a gospel feel. The tune is basically a hooray for the South number, though it makes the good point that living where it’s cold isn’t always fun. Who cares about the lyrics when Dolly is singing so joyously.
Green Pajamas — Carmilla (In a Glass Darkly): This cult band is a favorite among those who like baroque psychedlic pop. As time went on, Jeff Kelly and his crew went in a bit more of a chamber pop direction, as on this song. This is a sweet and haunting track that reminds me a bit of the folkier side of Led Zeppelin in spots, mixed with The Left Banke.
Wax — Continuation (What Else Can We Do): Although based in L.A., three of the four members of this band (who achieved brief fame for the controversial Spike Jonze directed video for “California”) were from the western suburbs. In fact, I worked for three years with Wax bass player Dave (Burdie Cutlass) Georgeff. Wax was a snappy pop-punk band that seemed cut from the same cloth as bands like All, mixed melodic hooks with some odd tempo shifts and arrangements. This song works a simple groove relentlessly, building up to a nice refrain.
Screaming Blue Messiahs — Too Much Love (Bikini Red): This trio, which sprung from the ashes of Motor Boys Motor, mixed some traditional ’50s rock ‘n’ roll with streamlined punky rock, without sounding like either a punk or a rockabilly band. The band’s rhythm section was ultra steady and tight, alllowing frontman Bill Carter plenty of room to dazzle with his guitar playing. The first two SBM albums, this is from the second, are packed with hooky songs that don’t sound much like anybody else.
The Rutles — I Must Be In Love (The Rutles): This Beatles parody from the late ’70s was the brain child of Eric Idle of Monty Python and Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Band. Innes whipped up 20 Beatle soundalike tunes, many of which sounded as good as the originals that he was spoofing. This track amalgamates the ideas of a few different tracks and is a fun early ’60s rock romp.
The Raspberries — Rose Colored Glasses (Capitol Collectors Series): Since I’m a big power pop fan, I’ve tried to fully embrace The Raspberries. While I love their hits, many of Eric Carmen’s soppy ballads do nothing for me. Such as this one.
Nothing Painted Blue — Couldn’t Be Simpler (Placeholders): Hyperliterate indie rock band fronted by Franklin Bruno. Bruno had a limited whiny/drawly voice, but it was well suited for his clever lyrics. The band’s music didn’t fit in any particular bag — it’s pretty much catchy guitar rock, with influences such as Elvis Costello, The Smiths, The Kinks and many others. This song mixes an industrial strength guitar riff with a detour into Burt Bacharach land before heading back into the rock.