7 Worlds Collide, spearheaded by Crowded House’s Neil Finn, is a loose collective formed with friends, acquaintances and contemporaries coming together in a studio to hash out some songs. It’s a nice concept, though not an entirely unique one, the most recent comparison (relatively speaking, considering its decades-long gestation) being Peter Gabriel’s Big Blue Ball. Not coincidentally, Tim Finn is a member in good standing of both, but The Sun Came Out trumps Big Blue Ball in one important aspect: consistency. Because of Gabriel, and his Real World label’s world music emphasis, the tracks bounced wildly from a pop tune to a chant, to an African tribal rhythm and back to a pop tune, all good in their own right but incoherent in the record’s preset context.
The Sun Came Out has a rock & roll through-line and, therefore, is an easier listen. The pedigree is outstanding as well, since you’re not just getting more Finns than you can shake a stick at, but you’re getting a chunk of Radiohead, a large part of Wilco, and some Johnny Marr for good measure. One of the early standouts is “Run in the Dust,” a Marr contribution with some nice, moody guitar textures, but the set spans two CDs or four full vinyl sides. By the sheer weight of the thing, the listener instinctively begins to cherry-pick tracks. For the CD or iTunes set, that’s fine. For the vinyl collector, not so much.
At heart, this is still a various artists compilation, and as such you’ll have styles you’ll gravitate to and others you’ll likely jump over. I’m still at odds with the inclusion of the Jeff Tweedy track “You Never Know,” as this version is virtually identical to the version on the latest Wilco album (titled Wilco (The Album).) It’s a good song and a standout on the Wilco release with its not-so-subtle hat tip to George Harrison, but it’s really just filler here.
If you do choose to go the LP route, it’s a hefty package on high-quality vinyl, housed in a handsome gatefold sleeve. Two added bonuses are the download code so you can snag a digital version for free with the purchase, and the proceeds go to the charity Oxfam so any purchase contributes to a worthy cause. Still, the nature of the collection is such that you’ll appreciate the programmability of a digital edition. (Read our review of the CD version here.)
The Sun Came Out (vinyl edition) is available through Amazon.com.