Crowded House – Woodface

More Crowded House

Reviews and Commentaries for Crowded House

  • An outstanding European import pressing of Crowded House’s 1991 Pop Masterpiece boasting Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • The care and effort that went into every aspect of the recording and production of Woodface more than justifies the effort we put into finding this excellent copy – one of the better sounding copies we have played
  • It is our opinion that this is some of the most original, melodic, hook-laden, sophisticated popular music recorded in the last thirty years, the kind that should find favor with any audiophile who likes the popular music, starting with The Beatles and ending who knows when
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The songs are easily their finest to date, combining flawless melodies and the outstanding harmonies of the brothers’ perfectly matched voices.”

This excellent copy of Woodface fulfills the promise of this extraordinarily well-recorded album beyond all expectations. The effect so totally immerses you in the musical experience that you forget you’re listening to a record at all. In your mind, you have the sense that you’re hearing the music exactly the way the musicians, producers, and engineers intended it to sound. The sound is everything you want it to be as you experience every element of the music without limitation.

This excellent copy of Woodface fulfills the promise of this extraordinarily well-recorded album beyond all expectations. The effect so totally immerses you in the musical experience that you forget you’re listening to a record at all. In your mind, you have the sense that you’re hearing the music exactly the way the musicians, producers, and engineers intended it to sound. The sound is everything you want it to be as you experience every element of the music without limitation.

It only happens when the right record meets the right stereo, and that means rarely, but when it does the memory of the sound becomes fixed in the mind like no other, and it never leaves.

This vintage Capitol import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of Woodface 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 even as late as 1991
  • 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.

Music That Matters

Thankfully the care and effort that went into every aspect of the production of Woodface more than justifies the effort we put into finding this copy. Unlike some Hot Stamper records — no names please — this is an album whose MUSIC demands to be heard in the highest quality sound. That can only mean one thing: a Hot Stamper pressing playing on a Killer Stereo.

Woodface easily meets the definition of a Desert Island Disc. I’ve played it hundreds of times and enjoy it more with each play, which ensures that on my desert island I’ll never get sick of it. To my way of thinking it contains some of the most original, melodic, hook-laden, sophisticated popular music recorded in the last thirty years. Astonishingly (to me, anyway) it didn’t even chart here in the states, a sad commentary about the state of the music biz, a state that only seems to worsen as the decades roll on.

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 name check (10cc and Roxy Music and Little Feat being a bit obscure to 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 a record that belongs no less in your collection than it does in mine.

What We’re Listening For On Woodface

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Deep Bass

If you have any other copy of the LP, or the CD for that matter, and big speakers of course, take a moment to listen for the deepest bass on this copy. It gets down the way practically no other copy did, and the CD only hints at what’s really going on down there. You rarely hear that kind of bass on a pop record. It’s pretty cool when you do.

As often happens in these shootouts, the best sounding copy and the worst sounding copy both had exactly the same stamper numbers. The other stampers were somewhere in the middle.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

A Must Own Pop Record

We consider this album a Masterpiece. It’s a recording that belongs in any serious Popular Music Collection.

Others that belong in that category can be found here.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Chocolate Cake
It’s Only Natural
Fall At Your Feet  
Tall Trees
Weather With You
Whispers And Moans
Four Seasons In One Day

Side Two

There Goes God 
Fame Is
All I Ask
As Sure As I Am
Italian Plastic
She Goes On
How Will You Go

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

Where Crowded House’s previous album, Temple of Low Men, showcased the often dark side of a man alone with his thoughts, Woodface represents the joy of reunion and the freedom of a collaborative effort — more than half of the album was originally conceived as a Finn Brothers project, which was Tim and Neil’s first crack at writing together. The songs are easily their finest to date, combining flawless melodies and the outstanding harmonies of the brothers’ perfectly matched voices.

Leave a Reply