Crowded House, Woodface
In the early '90s I was detoxing from years of writing long, aggressive Prog Rock that celebrated weird time signatures and alienated Sudsy's audiences night after night.
The entire enterprise was boring, and I was looking to return to the music that first sparked my curiosity -- mostly my parents' Beatles albums from my youth. How I stumbled upon Crowded House's Woodface is long forgotten, but strangely it was the first "contemporary" album I had purchased in a long time. It spent the remainder of 1991 spinning relentlessly wherever I could find a CD player. I discovered something that hadn't occurred to me before -- Pop music could be challenging, romantic, cynical, moving and, above all, musical. Listening to the album, you get the sense that these are five extremely talented guys who don't have to try too hard -- a revelation to me, to say the least. You mean, not every vocal has to be a range-splitting exercise? Guitar solos don't have to be pyrotechnical shootouts? These are things that I inherently knew from my early musical origins, but had forgotten and dismissed in the big hair days. Suddenly that acoustic guitar gathering dust in the corner became my primary instrument, and all the three-minute Pop songs that had been welling inside came out in a rush. The few times a listener of Screaming Mimes has recognized its influence is a tremendous thrill. Someday I may reach its heights. Until then -- and for a long time afterwards -- I'll allow it to keep inspiring me as I try to write the perfect song.
SCREAMING MIMES has a Web site at screamingmimes.com.