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Split Enz - Dizrythmia CD (album) cover


Split Enz

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Another good album by Enz. Phil Judd left so Tim comes to the fore, and he delivers, he has assistance from Eddie and Rob, but now Enz will be a Tim led affair until 1983. On guitars is his shy younger brother Neil, still a youth. You can hear their is more of a focuss on hooks and the music is simplifyed somewhatto accomidate Neil because he is not too technical, but make no mistake this is still unconventional prog. Mike Chunn has gone (because of his agrophobia) and is replaced by Nigel Griggs, Malcom Green (replacing Emlyn Crowther) debut with the band is on this album, but he has been with them since their US tour. Bold as Brass penned by Tim and Rob, show they can do it without Phil and is a demeted short song with silly lyrics and an amusing music video to boot. My Mistake is another demeted song very memorable Enz classoc, still played on Classic rock radios in NZ, this song goes back to their vaudivalle sound. Both Bold as Brass and My Mistake may be considered 'pop' songs but this is only in a very loose sense of the word, they are just too quirky to be conventional. Parrot Fashion Love is an upbeat sounding piece that has the theatrical feel of their earlier songs, but its slightly more hook orientated butnevertheless prog, again very Vaudiville that has a slight chaotic feel to it. Sugar and Spice, has a great proggy, Yesish feel to it that links Enz to their influence but still maintaing their uniqueness, although Neil is no virtuoso by any stretch of the imagination he does cad a great rocky feel to the song and complements Eddie's keyboards. There is a slight Elvis Presely feel to this song until the chorus sounds Vaudiville and then descending into a little chaos, but they manage to restrain themselves from insanity. Both rocking and vaudiville at the same time, I love Robs crazy trumpets at the end. Without a doubt starts of as an ambient beginning building up and then kicks off as a slow ballad sounding, I think this is where Tim's real strength lies is meloncholy ballads, he pulls off the songs really well, but its still strange with odd stoips and changes here and there, and then brightens up to a more cheerful piece. Crosswords (my version calls it Crossroads) has a great bass sound to it that reminds me of a Crosswords, an interesting sounding song. I like the guitar and Trumpet sound and of course Eddie's terrific Keys, a great tune, that descends into insanity. Charlie is another classic the lyrics deal with a man who has just killed his friend Charlie and is now saying to him "Wake up Charlie" really chilling lyrics I think they are really fantastic a slow piece and a highlight of the album. Nice to Know is very Elvis Presely sounding piece that will probably remind you of Roxy Music, with a catchy hook again Rob's trumpets add to the chaos. Jamboree has a lot of chaotric ambience which early Enz were masters of, the most inaccessible song of the album, I'll never understand why they played this piece on Ready to Roll (NZ top of the Pops in the late 70s to late 80s) I think this is a solis album with no weak tracks, Tim had proven that Enz can exist without Judd (much like Genesis without Gabriel), I think this is certainly one of Enz better albums and I enjoy listening to it so I'm giving it 4 stars.
Report this review (#122630)
Posted Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

By the time they went into recording their third album, SE had underwent some line-up changes with Judd departing. There were more stool-swappings, but it was clear that SE's move to the UK was not an easy one (unlike for instance AC/DC who had family there, to make the transition easier) and their survival was forcing the group to morph into something that had to succeed quickly in order to put food on the table. So drummer Noel Crombie started their weird glam-looks that made them appear between The Sparks, The Tubes, Talking Heads and NY Dolls. Musically the group developed a pop rock with prog overtones that would be between The Sparks, Queen and the whole thing pushed by Roxyman Manzanera, even if he didn't produced this album.

The drive towards commercial success drove the group to forget their prog roots a little more with each new release, but you still get some large glimpses at it with their third album. The main difference is that compared to the debut album, the brass/wind instruments are adding a more pop touch as opposed to Judd's guitar. Indeed Finn's younger brother was still probably a little too inexperienced to fill Judd's shoes and most likely a good deal of space was given to

Most likely the first two songs of the album should ring a bell to those paying attention to that clever pop-rock that was never really as simple as it sounded: Bold And Brass and My Mistake received (and still do) the odd radio airplay, due to their entertaining pop song format, where the music is impeccably played, but not really riveting, either. Parrot Fashion Love is clearly one of those pastiche songs that abounded in 10 CC, Queen and The Sparks' oeuvre, and again is deceptively simple: the arrangements are anything but simple, the group being a septet, they could "complicate" things as will and often, they are not afraid of doing so. The same thing can be said for Without a Doubt, which still takes its time to have an intro (this will be the last album where they will do, it as the following album Frenzy will have 13 tracks that go straight to the point), slowly crescendos into an almost AOR ballad then declining to a stop (this is not often done as the solo spot is almost ambient) only to pick up again to its previous pace. Easily the album's best track, and a glimpse of what they did on their debut Mental Notes.

Crossroads (or Crosswords) is an incredibly zany piece that can only lead you into insanity as the group makes sure that your are probably lead to the asylum and not be able to find your way back. This track is a bit too short, IMHO, and it would've been great had they kept on for two more minutes provided they kept digging into their madness. In its first part, Charlie cannot really match up to such an impressive predecessor, and sounds a bit like a mid-tempo filler (but well-made), even if the lyrics subject are anything but bland. The middle section is again quite impressive, rather unusual and leading to the return of the opening motif but done much better. Nice To Know is a slow pop rock that has an impressive bass line, and great brass works, but fails to build on what had been done before on the flipside of the vinyl. Starting out on a Tony Banks-like piano intro, Jamboree than another transitional second passage, before jumping in a weird pop groove where SE definitely lets loose their strangeitude (reminiscent of Hackett's madness of his early solo albums) and it's hard not to like if you're a proghead.

While the prog content on this album might appear a little low, it is a relatively deceptive impression as there are plenty of moments that are full-blown prog, but you'll have to dig them out. Definitely worth your checking out, I'll round up the rationg to its upper unit, until more progheads start rating this album once they've discovered it.

Report this review (#125517)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I won't argue a lot about the "progressiveness" of this album (nor from the band either).

Exit the unmanageable Judd and welcome to little brother Tim (Finn). This album is not far from the extravaganza of their debut but the sax & trumpet made this one less interesting to my ears. But this is due to my little attraction for these instruments.

The arrangements are still extremely well crafted, melodies catchy and music so inventive (but less than on "Mental Notes" since it has been done before). The decadent style is very present again and the album opens with a triptych of jewels.

Of course, Roxy is there; as "10CC" and to some extent "Sparks" as well (probably due to the high pitched vocals which reminds Russel mael). But this is far from being a problem IMO. Even "Sugar & Spice" which starts as a soul/funk combo, degenerates into some sorts of disjointed rock opera (OK, for less than four minutes).

The main reference is still "10CC" ("Without A Doubt"), even if "Crosswords" has a definite new wave flavour (remember, the album is released in 77) and Roxy (Ferry) is back with "Charlie". After an average "Nice To Know", the closing track offers an hesitant start. But very quickly Jamboree turns out to be another of their delirious moments. About five or six different themes, almost unrelated. Some sax jam, and a wild finale "Oh Jamboree, Oh Jamboree"!!!

"Dizrythmia" is a respectable album. Originality is still present. Maybe that a little craziness is gone (but not always) and the comparison with the bands mentioned above too obvious.

Three stars for this good album.

Report this review (#179979)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars 'Dizrhythmia' is a title chosen to reflect the organised chaos of the SPLIT ENZ sound. It invites you to imagine something spinning out of control, and piques the progger's interest even before the record is played. So it has a great deal to live up to. Sadly, it doesn't quite manage it. PHIL JUDD is gone - for those who want to know what he did, get hold of the zany retro single, 'Counting the Beat' - and this band rapidly becomes TIM FINN's. His younger brother NEIL joins the band - more of that in the 1980s. For now, we have an intriguing pastiche of styles to listen to.

We get vaudeville, we get blues, we get prog rock: the style is irrelevant, really, as it's all just a stage for the band's quirkiness. Witness the two opening singles: made for radio - the second of them is still played here in New Zealand on occasion - but far too weird to have appealed to the record buying public. Even when they're trying to go straight, these boys can't help themselves. Others hear 10CC in their music, I hear SUPERTRAMP. Just listen to the wonderfully quirky reggae pop song 'My Mistake', the most memorable track on the album: it could have been issued by the Tramp. 'Parrot Fashion Love' is ENZed-up blues, and 'Sugar and Spice' is just crazy funk. The proggiest moments are 'Without a Doubt' and the simply crazy 'Jamboree', the latter an album's worth of ideas compressed into six zany minutes. 'Crosswords' is actually quite frighteningly insane, part agonised plea, part knees-up, and far too short.

And that's SPLIT ENZ's problem, really: they never learned how to capitalise on their ideas. At their best in the 70s they were interestingly different, but a superior band could have made something outstanding from this undercooked melange. Their choices were simple: either extend the material, so the motifs and ideas had room to breathe, or reduce the number of ideas. That they chose the latter course and become a successful new-wave band is a matter of history, but it's a second-best choice for a prog audience.

Report this review (#181288)
Posted Monday, September 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars By the time New Zealand's SPLIT ENZ recorded their debut album in 1975, they were a full- blown Sympho-Prog band tackling complex, left-of-field compositons with many eccentric twists and turns. This release from 1977, entitled Dizrythmia, would see a strong part of their character disappear with many members leaving, the largest portion of this character being taken with guitarist/vocalist Phil Judd. This then left a position for someone capable of taking on the role of a guitarist who could sing. Enter NEIL FINN, younger brother of founding member Tim, whose humble beginnings here would blossom into super success with his post-Enz band CROWDED HOUSE (great songs and neat performances, though not Prog). Dizrythmia offers a most harmonious blend of Pop and Prog ideas, most often with short and catchy, quirky tunes containing clever, off-the-cuff arrangements and tight musicianship. Listening through to the 9 tracks on the album, none of which could be considered as 'filler', each display an artistic zeal, bizarre mix, and some indefinable moments. One listen to the 6- and-a-half minute 'Jamboree' could well seal the deal for many Proggers. The tracks 'Charlie' and 'Without A Doubt' are also appealing pieces. This album just scrapes in for the fourth star, quite an interesting listen.
Report this review (#410642)
Posted Friday, March 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Two albums. Two misfires. Third time lucky. This time Split Enz get the production right in the studio, songs that are neither underproduced or overproduced and everybody plays well. Maybe it's because younger brother Neil Finn has joined the band and he has just the right sensibilities on guitar that suits the feel of the band. He's not as good a mandolin player as Phil Judd, but he has it all over him as a guitarist and he's not the aggressive lead guitarist that Wally Wilkinson is. A very good bass player in Nigel Griggs has replaced another very good bass player in Michael Chunn, while Malcolm Green is the superior drummer to Emlyn Crowther, he replaces. Noel Crombie contributes on percussion where needed.

The down side is the songs aren't as proggy as before. Tim Finn has a hand in writing all the songs except for Sugar And Spice. His influences are more sixties English Pop but he has Eddie Raynor to add a proggy flavor to the songs. Bold As Brass, with a writing credit to Robert Gillies, is a great rocker which opens the album. My Mistake is a lyrically clever song from Tim Finn. Parrot Fashion Love has some great boogie woogie playing on piano from Eddie Raynor and some of the best horns from Robert Gillies on a Split Enz song. Sugar And Spice is the odd song here, written by Phil Judd, but it rocks with some clever syncopated guitar runs and piano. Without A Doubt begins with an arpeggio sequence before it breaks into acoustic guitar and progresses into the main chorus of singing, mandolins, electric guitar and piano.

Crosswords is another clever Tim Finn song with some good harmonica and sax playing from Gillies. The jazzy Charlie mainly on the piano adds a light touch to the album, again with very clever lyrics from Tim Finn. Nice To Know begins ordinarily on drums then develops some interesting ethereal effects on keyboards from Eddie Raynor with a contribution on electric guitar from Neil Finn as well as Sax from Robert Gillies. Jamboree is a mini epic that reminds me of the misunderstood Syd Barrett song, Jugband Blues. It's not a song about madness in as much as the song IS madness. It's like a piece of creative art which is stretched like an elastic band until it snaps. If there is one definitive song that describes Split Enz, it is Jamboree.

Dizrythmia is one of the great underappreciated Spilt Enz albums. It gets more spins from me than any other Split Enz album.

Report this review (#2406677)
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2020 | Review Permalink

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