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Thread: 22 Essential Split Enz Songs

  1. #1
    Sleeping at home is killing the hotel business!

  2. #2
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    I don't have any of their releases, but I do respect much of what former members later produced. When I've checked them out in the past, I thought they were as much or more New Wave than Prog-Rock influenced. I've never really given them a thorough going through, but maybe I should.
    He did not know that the sword he'd hold, would turn his priceless empire into fool's gold...

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  3. #3
    First three albums.

    Marvellous.

    Now I'll have to spin 'em this very evening just for thinking about 'em. Second Thoughts comes close to a -minor- masterwork, and it laways cheers me up on a listen, regardless.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    I don't have any of their releases, but I do respect much of what former members later produced. When I've checked them out in the past, I thought they were as much or more New Wave than Prog-Rock influenced. I've never really given them a thorough going through, but maybe I should.
    The prog influence is pretty much limited to their first three albums. There’s some definite Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator influence on those early discs alongside the Sparks and Skyhooks influence, but they mixed it all together in a way that was uniquely their own. I guess Phil Judd was the prog fan, as most of the prog element of their sound left with him. Nonetheless, I like the band through all phases of their career. True Colours is a classic, and that’s not all, because there’s a whole lot of Enz-related stuff that’s likewise worthwhile. The first three Crowded House albums are all excellent, too. I am also very fond of The Sound of Trees by Schnell Fenster (80s band fronted by Phil Judd and also featuring Noel Crombie). Not that familiar with Phil’s other band, The Swingers, but what I have heard is encouraging (more of that nervy “new wave” sound).
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I guess Phil Judd was the prog fan, as most of the prog element of their sound left with him.
    I believe so too. Yet Dizrhithmia was a great followup and, like you said, there's a lot of excellently sophisticated pop/rock on later releases.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  6. #6
    Fabulous, wonderful band. Things were complex in the UK with their early releases - the album that the rest of the world knows as 'Mental Notes' never got a formal release here back in the day. Instead, we got 'Second Thoughts' as their debut album - but renamed as 'Mental Notes'! I only heard the ORIGINAL 'Mental Notes' much later. This confuses nearly as many people as do 'Starless' and 'Starless and Bible Black'...

    The 'rest of the world' 'Mental Notes' is incredibly odd and pretty uncommercial, with Phil Judd handling most of the vocals with very mixed results. Along came Phil Manzanera who dragged them over to the UK to effectively rerecord the album but this time with Tim Finn handling more of the vocals. This resulted in the album everyone else knows as 'Second Thoughts' but that we Brits knew as 'Mental Notes' way back then. Confused?

    The list above barely scratches the surface of their early gems. 'Stranger Than Fiction' running into 'Time For A Change' on 'Second Thoughts' is sheer genius. And even the opener of that album, 'Late Last Night', has you thinking you're listening to some kind of vaudeville band until the 'Tron suddenly slams in from absolutely nowhere after the first chorus...

    One of the first times I ever saw Cardiacs live, I felt that the influences from Split Enz's early work were as clear as daylight.

    Phil Judd left after the two versions of the debut album, resulting in an extremely young Neil Finn joining and the Finns doing most of the songwriting on the 2nd (or 3rd!) album 'Dizrythmia'. It's still very good despite the greatly diminished prog influence, and there's some very troubled, dark stuff indeed hiding under the more commercial veneer on songs like 'Charlie'...

    After that the band lost its way a bit, only to ultimately emerge as the new-wave, pop band that most people THINK of as being Split Enz. But by now Neil Finn was a master songwriter, both 'True Colours' and 'Waiata' have some glorious tunes on them. Of course, everyone knows they finally morphed into Crowded House and produced what to my ears is one of the best pure pop singles in the whole of history, 'Don't Dream It's Over'.

    Did I mention that I'm a huge fan?

  7. #7
    ^ Good writeup there, Obar.

    For those with a particular penchant for early Enz, I'd recommend Belgian symphonic rock/pop (yeah, the other way around) band Banzai's sole album from '74, Hora Nata. It's not nearly as intelligently refined as anything Enz, but it evokes that same vibe - and especially the bonus single tracks on the CD reissue.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  8. #8
    Thanks SS. The only word I disagreed with in your post was the use of the word '-minor-' ...

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Obarmoth View Post
    The only word I disagreed with in your post was the use of the word '-minor-'
    My bad expression; it was not due to lack of quality, but absence of "general appreciation". A grade set to appreciation and renown, not to content.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  10. #10
    Progdog ThomasKDye's Avatar
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    Because of this thread, I became curious, so I listened to True Colours online... and I liked it! "Shark Attack" is kind a meh punk-new wave thing, and "I Got You" is a BIT overrated, but "What's the Matter With You," "Double Happy," "I Hope I Never," and "Nobody Takes Me Seriously" are all fun numbers I was really grooving on upon the second listen. "What's the Matter With You" is a perfect simulacrum of a 60s British Invasion number, and I could imagine it being a hit in the sixties. I went and bought the album on Amazon immediately. "Missing Person" is also okay, and the momentum dies for me with "Poor Boy," but they're mostly still good.
    "Arf." -- Frank Zappa, "Beauty Knows No Pain" (live version)

  11. #11
    Any convert to a vastly underrated band is always a good thing, ThomasKDye! Now you've heard arguably their best 'pop' album, though, you MUST check out 'Second Thoughts'...

  12. #12
    Definitely a unique band. I always loved the original Mental Notes (great album cover too painted by Judd). They had a brilliant image too as can be seen in this early video


  13. #13
    Damn, seeing that makes me so annoyed with myself. I was actually aware of this lot and that they were touring the UK from the music press of the day at that time and could have gone to see them. But, I was only 14 or 15 - logistics, cash, being allowed out... you know...

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Obarmoth View Post
    'Stranger Than Fiction' running into 'Time For A Change' on 'Second Thoughts' is sheer genius.
    Yes, it definitely is, and the delay on the drums during the final outro makes an already dramatic piece a towering work.

    This early live clip isn’t as kinetic and hard edged as the “Second Thoughts” version but is still wonderful.

  15. #15
    Rye-Ergot - that's truly scary. I literally found this very clip for myself on YouTube around about 20 minutes ago and have been marvelling in it. I'd never seen it before. It's so old it's even from the pre clown makeup days! Musically I marginally prefer the version on 'Second Thoughts' and the video effects are truly dreadful. But - this is actually more prog than than the proggiest thing that any prog fan on this prog site has ever progged to.

  16. #16
    I cannot express my joy at the turns this thread has taken!
    Sleeping at home is killing the hotel business!

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Obarmoth View Post
    Rye-Ergot - that's truly scary. I literally found this very clip for myself on YouTube around about 20 minutes ago and have been marvelling in it. I'd never seen it before. It's so old it's even from the pre clown makeup days! Musically I marginally prefer the version on 'Second Thoughts' and the video effects are truly dreadful. But - this is actually more prog than than the proggiest thing that any prog fan on this prog site has ever progged to.
    I was certainly pretty gobsmacked the first time I saw it. And still am, many views later!

  18. #18
    This doesn't quite compete with your find, but it's still a heck of a lot of fun...

  19. #19
    Forenzics - Tim Finn, Eddie Rayner, Noel Crombie and Phil Manzanera in 2020


  20. #20
    I had never come across this as a 'genre' before. But I rather like most of this stuff, not just the Enz! And besides, it's a good excuse to bump this thread... https://apraamcos.co.nz/news/2015/ap...he-genre-zolo/

  21. #21
    Member Mythos's Avatar
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    Never a huge fan, I do have that lazer-etched A&M release on vinyl and picked up an original of their first LP (Mental Notes) cause I figured it was rare, I also have a picture disc of theirs (again bought it as an investment)..

    But by far my favorite songs by them are: (1) Hard Act to Follow and (2) Six Months on a Leaky Boat (long version w/strings), and (3) I Got You, all of which get heavy play on the 80's compilations...!

    NOTE: And all three of those are on the top 22 in the OP's link...

  22. #22
    I don't have any of their albums, but I like some of the songs I've heard over the years, e.g. One Step Ahead, I Got You, History Never Repeats, Hard Act To Follow, etc. They used to play I Got You on the PA at work occasionally.

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