Empty House

Antipodean superstars Crowded House took their final bow in 1996. Afterglow, a collection of odds and ends recorded over the years is, in fact, an album of cutting-floor relics that never made it onto a proper album for one good reason: They're not that good.

Yes, the Aussies won a Grammy in 1987 as Best New Artist and enjoyed massive popularity in their native land. And yes, Neil Finn is a respectable and occasionally great songwriter. However, if the rock-star sweepstakes were a swimming pool, Finn & Co. swam in the shallow end.

Some of Afterglow is worthwhile. "You Can Touch" (RealAudio excerpt) is a pretty ballad with passionate guitar work and nice harmonizing on the chorus. "Sacred Cow" (RealAudio excerpt) is marvelously breezy pop, evoking in this listener the mental picture of a smiling Fred Astaire shuffling in front of Elvis Costello. The home demo recording of "Lester" is pretty and sincere.

Beyond these, however, innocuous is as innocuous does. See the dopey "My Telly's Gone Bung" for proof. Cut, paste, move on to the next afterthought compilation.