Neil Finn is the lead singer of Crowded House, a band which had its share of big hits in the 80s and 90s. (Admit it, you belted along to "Don't Dream It's Over.") Growing up in New Zealand, Finn was raised on the Beatles and David Bowie: "I was playing piano and playing guitars and trying to emulate those guys," he remembers. When he formed Crowded House band with his brother Tim, they wrote songs that were lyrical, melodic, and perfectly New Wave.
But years later, when Finn was on a solo tour of the US – he was at a party after a show – he heard the music of a group called ESG. It was low-fi, homemade dance music from the early 80s, obscure and utterly unique; ESG used almost nothing but bass, percussion, and girls' voices, and its guiding influence was James Brown.
Finn got so hooked on their percussive sound that picked up a set of drum sticks himself, and formed a new band with his wife Sharon: the Pajama Club. "I do credit the ESG record for allowing me to believe that you could base something on incredibly simple groove with a kind of energy and abandon and it would be great music."