ESCAPADE - TIM FINN
TRACK LISTING: Fraction Too Much Friction, Staring at the Embers, Through the Years, Not For Nothing, In A Minor Key, Made My Day, Wait and See, Below the Belt, I Only Want To Know, Growing Pains
IMPRESSIONS: This album came out my first year of college. Already a huge Split Enz fan, a solo album by Tim Finn was definitely something I snapped up in a hurry. This record (yes, vinyl) I immediately taped onto cassette so I could listen to it in the car tape deck of my 1975 copper Ford Granada while I drove the 40+ minute commute to Glassboro State College ("Because it's there, it's cheap and you're never too stupid" was our comedy motto in the school magazine). Made while Tim was still a member of Split Enz, this album featured songs some of which he had been holding onto since the late 1970s because they didn't fit the Enz sound. What that is generally said to mean is that they were more "groove" oriented with a stronger dance rhythm -- and this is no doubt the truth as there is a lot to dance to on this album while Split Enz doesn't offer boogiemonsters much in the way of booty-shaking opportunities. Also, "ESCAPADE" is very definitely more "bubblegum pop" sounding as well and much more radio friendly; this fact born out by the substantial success of the album for Tim which was the primary kick in the pants which led him to quit Split Enz after the "CONFLICTING EMOTIONS" album later that year. While I am still very fond of this album, some of it is a tad harder to listen to all these years later without the fine fog of nostalgia to soften some of the cheesier and more blatantly bubblegum sounds which occur from time to time on the album. Listening to "ESCAPADE" 30 years later does produce one or two cringe-worthy moments. However, the album is still full of packed with great songs that, with a more modern arrangement, would still hold up today. Lead-off single "Fraction Too Much Friction" is still a fun song with a slight reggae beat while "In A Minor Key" is probably the most Enz-like song on the album. The bright and breezy "Through the Years", the perfect-for-driving perambulation of "Not For Nothing" and the melodic "Wait and See" are stand-out tracks even today as are the "heavy-on-the-groove" tracks "I Only Want To Know" and "Below the Belt"; the latter song apparently only appearing on the American version of the LP replacing the song "Grand Adventure". Also, the song sequencing from the original Mushroom Records album shuffles the song order for the States. All in all, even today in Tim Finn's 60th year, "ESCAPADE" is an enjoyable listen with it's bright red cover signalling the candy-coated goodness inside.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Fraction Too Much Friction, Through the Years, Not For Nothing, In A Minor Key, Wait and See, Below the Belt, I Only Want To Know
GUEST ARTISTS: Ricky Fataar (drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals), Venetta Fields (backing vocals), Richard Tee (piano on "Fraction Too Much Friction", Rhodes on "In A Minor Key" and "Wait and See"), Vince Gill (mandolin on "Not For Nothing")
FACT SHEET: ESCAPADE is Tim Finn's first album. The album was meant to be a temporary side project for Tim after which he would return as usual to Split Enz; however the unexpected mass success of the album surprised the singer and left him preoccupied when returning to work on Split Enz's "CONFLICTING EMOTIONS" album and eventually led to his departure from the band. A more pop-oriented sound for the album was the goal as Finn brought in such accomplished session musicians as the great Richard Tee (who famously appeared on classic albums by Billy Joel, Paul Simon, etc.), Ricky Fataar (percussionist on many pop albums as well as being a member of the Rutles) and soul-singer Venetta Fields (who backed such bands as the Rolling Stones on "EXILE FROM MAIN STREET"). The presence of future country music star Vince Gill on mandolin still astounds me!