Tim Finn: Anthology; North South East West (EMI)

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Tim Finn: Straw to Gold (from the album The Conversation)
Tim Finn: Anthology; North South East West (EMI)

Anyone who considers the Tim Finn timeline would quickly conclude that here was a man who always did it his way: the theatrics and manic energy of Split Enz combined with alarmingly engaging and durable music; solo albums which were sometimes uncomfortable for their self-analysis; others which were snappy and poppy; soundtracks and side-projects . . . 

So a double disc overview of his career was never going to just be a collection of hits and overlooked album tracks. That would have just been too easy as this compilation, subtitled Anthology, attests.

Certainly he opens with  seven Split Enz tracks (no Charlie however, or Shark Attack which seem curious omissions) but then things twist: Split Enz' Stuff and Nonsense now appears as a duet with Missy Higgins and on the second disc Weather With You from the Crowded House Woodface album is rehit with brother Neil and his nephew Liam. It's Only Natural appears here as a duet with Bic Runga, and the lovely How Will You Go (both also from Woodface) finds Tim at the piano for a delicate solo reading.

It seems unusual him distancing himself from the Woodface versions (the Runga duet is pallid), but as we know, he's always gone his own way and maybe he felt these were too "Tim-Neil".

Elsewhere are some great overlooked Tim songs: the ambitious Dead Man and brittle power pop of What You've Done from Feeding the Gods, the string-enhanced but fragile Winter Light and Couldn't Be Done from Imaginary Kingdom, and three from his much overlooked The Conversation album of last year.

His few solo hits (Fraction Too Much Friction, the uneasy How'M I Gonna Sleep and Persuasion) are here, but some will bemoan the lack of other classic Enz tracks or their favourites from those hardly-household-name solo albums of recent years.

Still, if Tim Finn had produced a double disc collection of the expected he wouldn't be Tim Finn, would he?

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