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Split Enz - The Beginnings of the Enz CD (album) cover


Split Enz


Crossover Prog

3.43 | 8 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars SPLIT ENZ are New Zealand's best, and certainly most original, musical export (sorry Kiri and Hayley), and a band whose 70s output will appeal to crossover prog/art rock lovers. Like many young New Zealanders at the time, Brian (later TIM) FINN and PHIL JUDD avidly absorbed the revolutionary new music coming from overseas, and melded these influences into a uniquely New Zealand amalgam of outrageous musical pastiches with understated lyrics, seasoned with the typical self-conscious, offbeat, bizarre Kiwi sense of humour.

This 28-minute compilation gathers the band's earliest recorded music, from their initial singles, in a package designed to appeal to SPIT ENZ completists. It's a little better than that, though, due to the inimitable vibrancy of the compositions, without ever being outstanding. This is bite-sized ENZ, as one would expect from the format they were extracted from.

The first I heard of the band was in 1973 as contestants in the television programme 'New Faces', in which luminaries of the NZ music scene judged up and coming bands. Frankly, I couldn't believe my ears. For the first time I heard Kiwi music that I could identify with - and the band came stone cold last in the grand final. Says something about us, I think. They played 'Sweet Talking Spoon Song', a vaudeville number, and '129' (later to become 'Matinee Idol (129)'), both wonderful tracks. These two tracks, along with the art-rock 'No Bother To Me' - my favourite from this album, despite the overdone rotating speaker effect - and an early version of 'Spellbound' (with JUDD on vocals) - the only real 'prog' track on the album - are well worth your time.

One of the more important aspects of the band isn't immediately apparent from the music itself, though the cover gives it away. Their stage performances were outrageously zany, over-the-top shows designed to hide behind, involving elaborate makeup, costumes and tomfoolery. Fabulous stuff. Another early strength of the band was the dual vocals of FINN and JUDD, their very different affectations giving songs variation and individual colouring. All in all, this is a useful retrospective, showcasing the formation and early struggles of what would become a splendid band.

russellk | 3/5 |


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