Crowded House – Temple of Low Men

More Crowded House

Temple of Low Men

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This British import pressing came right out of my collection. I would love to be able to keep an album as good as this one in my collection, but when would I ever find time to play it? Those days are gone. We play records all day long, five days a week. Weekends we do other things now.

Both sides are smooth and very analog sounding, and both are quiet, The big sound of a Tchad Blake recording with a Bob Clearmountain mix.

Musically both sides have some of the band’s best material. A few of our favorite tracks would be: I Feel Possessed and Into Temptation on side one, Love This Life and Better Be Home Soon on side two. 

Crowded House may have wanted to be the New Beatles, but those are some pretty big shoes to fill. They fell a bit short — who can compete with The Beatles? — but in their heyday, 1985-1993, they were better at making intelligent, original, melody-driven pop than practically any other group I was listening to at the time.

(We love Squeeze’s albums from this period as well but the ’80s sound is just too processed and artificial on even the best pressings to be enjoyed on modern high-resolution audiophile equipment.)

When people ask me what kind of music I like, a common question from non-audiophiles seeing a house full of records and a custom sound room stuffed with equipment and room treatments, Crowded House is one band I’m happy to namecheck (10cc and Roxy Music and Little Feat being a bit too obscure for most people by now).

Sophisticated Pop Albums with Audiophile Quality Sound make up a large part of my record collection, with Crowded House taking its place up near the top, not on the same plane as The Beatles, say, but not that far below either. (Woodface is an album that I have played many hundreds of times over the course of the last twenty years and have yet to tire of.)

This Crowded House album is a record that belongs no less in your collection than it does in mine. Their songs still get played on the radio and to these ears they’re holding up just fine.

What to Listen for (WTLF)

Listen for The Usual Suspects you want to find on a high quality pop/rock album. The best copies of Temple of Low Men will be spacious and open, rich and full-bodied. The vocals should be breathy and the singers present and clear.

Lots of tight bass is always a plus, as is correct tonality. The higher resolution copies earn extra points for transparency, detail and three-dimensionality.

The more of these qualities a pressing has, the higher its grade will be. It’s pretty much that simple.

Hearing the differences between pressings on a highly-resolving, big, accurate system in a good room is the easy part. Finding, cleaning and playing a dozen different pressings of the same album is not. It requires the heavy investment in time and effort that so few audiophiles and audiophile reviewers are willing to make.

What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1988
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Feel Possessed 
Kill Eye 
Into Temptation 
Mansion in the Slums 
When You Come

Side Two

Never Be the Same 
Love This Life 
Sister Madly 
In the Lowlands 
Better Be Home Soon

AMG Review

Following the success of Crowded House’s debut and the band’s grueling promotion schedule, Neil Finn was clearly showing signs that he was no longer happy being New Zealand’s zany ambassador to the U.S.

While the material on Temple of Low Men demonstrates great leaps in quality over its predecessor, it is a darkly difficult album, especially for those expecting Crowded House, Pt. 2 — in short, there are no immediately accessible singles.

Instead, Finn digs into the depths of his emotional psyche with obsessive detail, crafting a set of intense, personal songs that range from the all-too-intimate look at infidelity of “Into Temptation” to the raucous exorcism of “Kill Eye.”

Through all of this introspective soul-searching, Finn reveals most of all his true mastery of melody.