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Split Enz

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Split Enz Second Thoughts [Aka: Mental Notes] album cover
2.89 | 30 ratings | 7 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Late Last Night (4:04)
2. Walking Down a Road (5:28)
3. Titus (3:16)
4. Lovey Dovey (3:08)
5. Sweet Dreams (5:07)
6. Stranger Than Fiction (7:06)
7. Time for a Change (4:06)
8. Matinee Idyll (129) (2:57)
9.The Woman Who Loves You (6:55)

Total Time 42:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Tim Finn / piano, vocals (6)
- Phil Judd / guitar, mandolin, vocals
- Jonathan Michael Chunn / bass, piano (3)
- Noel Crombie / percussion, spoons
- Paul Emlyn Crowther / drums
- Robert Gillies / trumpet, saxophone
- Eddie Rayner / keyboards

- Miles Golding / violin (6)
- Ian Sharp / cello (8)

Releases information

Outside New Zealand and Australia the title of this album was "Mental Notes"
Produced by Phil Manzanera

Thanks to Terra Australis for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SPLIT ENZ Second Thoughts [Aka: Mental Notes] ratings distribution

(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SPLIT ENZ Second Thoughts [Aka: Mental Notes] reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Old songs, new songs

It is all very confusing! I have an LP by Split Enz called "Mental Notes", but I find it is not actually the band's first album, but one which is listed on this site as "Second thoughts". Further investigation reveals that many of the tracks on my album were in fact on the original "Mental notes", but these versions were re-recorded a year later in London with Phil Manzanera producing. It seems the original "Mental Notes" was a southern hemisphere release, the band's career effectively restarting in the northern hemisphere a year or so later.

The album starts off in very 10CC fashion with the bouncy "Late last night", a decent piece of sophisticated pop. This is one of five (of ten tracks) which are not common to both albums. The song sets the tone for much of the album, which is very heavily vocal with little room for instrumental development. Even when tracks such as "Walking down a road" do break for brief instrumentals, they are whimsical and lightweight.

"Titus" is notable for its fine arrangement, but the following "Lovey dovey" is almost punk like with hesitant trembling vocals and a jaunty rhythm. "Sweet dreams" has a slightly more interesting structure, but it is still very much a vocal based song with a catchy hook on the chorus.

The second side has arguably the more interesting tracks, specifically the 7 minute "Stranger than fiction" and the similarly timed "The woman who loves you". "Stranger than fiction" is one of the re-recordings from the first album the track boasting some decent guitar and overall some more interesting instrumentation. Tim Finn's piano work here also adds some attractive colours. "Time for a change" is for me the most enjoyable track on the album, the simple voice plus piano basis with added harmonies offering a welcome contrast to the majority of the album. There is a solo Peter Gabriel like feel to the song, especially when the track suddenly bursts open into a loud symphony. The Gabriel similarities are emphasised further in the "Counting out time" like "Matinee idyll".

"The woman who loves you" effectively closes the album, but fails to fulfil its promise, being a longer version of the educated pop of side one. My version of the LP includes a very brief tenth track, "Mental notes" which is entirely disposable.

In all, I cannot say Split Enz impress me as a band, let alone a prog band. Their music is generally too pop orientated and drifts too close to punk for my tastes. There are certainly moments of inspiration on this album, but overall I find it difficult to recommend it.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars During an Australian tour, dear friend Manzarena (Roxy) was so impressed by the band on stage that he convinced them to come over in the UK to pursue their career. It won't turn out as they would have wished, but they decided that the adventure was worth.

The first sign of their passage on English soil was the recording of this album. Actually, this is the UK version of their "Mental Notes" which was released in Australia a year before this one. Almost half of the songs appeared on both albums.

These four songs were re-arranged (not always for the best I must say). To have replaced the lead guitarist by a sax player was not a great idea IMO. It gives a soul aspect to the ensemble that was not worth ("Walking Down A Road"). Again, the brass section at the end of "Titus" is hard to bear.

My favourite song from "Mental Notes" was "Stranger Than Fiction". A rock opera on its own in its original format. Completely massacred here. What a poor treat! The fourth one being "Time For A Change" (?). While it featured fine mellotron originally, it is slightly downsized here. Still, it is the best of this album (together with "Late Last Night" and The Woman...).

Now, about the "new" songs.

Actually, there are only three of them here:

"Late Last Night" is fully in line with their incomparable and crazy sound; this time there is no hesitation. The arrangements, the mood changes, indescribable vocals: all of these remind the early "10CC" seriously.

"Sweet Dreams" has its good and bad. Again the sax is dominant and gives an air of "Young Americans" to the whole. It's a pity, because I'm sure that the band could have produced a far much better version in their original line-up than what is available here.

"Matinee Idyl" is also original. Again the "10CC" shadow is there. Very much in the style of "Late Last Night". Another good song.

The last two ones came from the "Mental Notes" sessions but were rejected at the time.

"Lovey Dovey" is a light and funny song. Full of strange sounds. Definitely a track to listen with headphones (as most of their debut ones). This being said, it is not a great tune. The long "The Woman Who Loves You" ranges to the good moments here as well. Fine melody, funny text, stirring piano, theme changes. A rather creative track.

At this early time of their career, their lead singer will leave the band after this recording (actually he became uncontrollable on stage). You shouldn't bother with this release. Stick to the earlier one: it is full of frenzy, craziness, originality. This one is weaker. No wonder that it didn't draw the attention of European audiences.

Three stars.

Review by russellk
2 stars A frustrating album to listen to and to review, 'Second Thoughts' represents a serious misstep in SPLIT ENZ's career. I wish they'd had such thoughts about issuing this record.

Problem is, it takes some of the less worthy tracks from their early antipodean singles, combines them with tracks re-recorded from their wonderful debut album and adds three new songs to make what was supposed to be their northern hemisphere breakthrough album. The band is undoubtedly talented, but the music is lightweight and steered in the direction of sales. The opening track is sub-standard pop, and the first of the remade tracks, 'Walking Down a Road' is a ghastly reinterpretation of the original. To complete their transformation to art-rock band the guitars are replaced by sax. Ick. 'Titus' is just dreadful: go listen to the original on 'Mental Notes' and ask yourself why they worked so hard to make the song so much worse. And so on. The excellent 'Stranger than Fiction' is mutilated by the re-recording, losing any impact it once had in this shambolic reinterpretation. The record sounds like an unenthusiastic SPLIT ENZ tribute band.

Thing is, had we not heard the originals, this would have been a perfectly acceptable, if underwhelming, album. But we did hear the originals, and none of these are improvements. This album does not represent the band's ability. Despite all this, the album was named by Sounds magazine as best debut album for 1976. Shame the mag didn't hear the original 'Mental Notes'.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I picked up Split Enz's 'Second Thoughts' second hand and I am glad I did not not pay full price as it really is a lackluster effort. There is very little to recommend this apart from about four tracks that stand out above the rest of the mediocrity on offer here. The four tracks of note are Late Last Night, Walking Down a Road, Stranger Than Fiction and The Woman Who Loves You. All of these tracks are colourful, whimsical renditions of early Enz at its best. It is difficult to compare the brilliance, polish and precise rhythmic radio friendly sound of later Enz to these early efforts, but it is nonetheless an intriguing excursion into how this band developed from zany, unimbellished, brash prog to the crystal vocals and echoing synth of 'I Got You', 'Poor Boy' or '6 Months in a Leaky Boat' that are so familiar to Australian and New Zealand airwaves. However, Second Thoughts is not a complete waste.

The lyrics are questionable but suit the off kilter music admirably. For instance lyrics from Stranger then Fiction include:

And even her friend the hippyman With his tarot cards to play Drowning in his sea of words Why he never has much to say And I've seen him standing by the river Singing to the birds Just like the mystic says Be careful of what you say Talking to himself he needs no one To help him on his way At nights I've heard him screaming Through the candle flame Oh please don't leave me alone Please don't leave me alone

The guitar work is adequate enough as well as Tim's vocals but of course all that sound changes with the introduction of new members on the next albums, namely Neil Finn, so this album has become somewhat of a curiosity.

The costumes and makeup too disappeared over the years. I was fortunate enough to see these early stage costumes on this album cover at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney some years back. They were startling and suited the ambience and mood of the music. Time for a change features some great piano and contrasts to the rest of the album but it is the full band material that fulfills the best moments on the album. When they all strike up, the sound is incredible.

The band did improve on their next album and hit the charts to become one of the most prolific Oz/NZ artists. Overall, I recommend you grab this from a bargain bin and enjoy Split Enz in their early incarnation - but of course do not hesitate to get 'True Colours', 'Corroborree' and 'Time and Tide' for quintessential Split Enz.

Latest members reviews

4 stars (4.5 stars) Second Thoughts (released as Mental Notes in the UK, Canada and US) is a unique collection of highly inspired, idiosyncratic, and painstakingly-crafted songs from Split Enz's so-called progressive rock period, evidently destined to be forever under-appreciated. As half of the tracks are ... (read more)

Report this review (#699061) | Posted by filster8 | Thursday, March 29, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Imagine the scene, suburban London, November 1977. Supposedly Punk rules and Prog Rock is dead. I turn on the television, BBC2, Sight and Sounds in concert and there is this 7 piece band dressed in harlequined zoot suits and with outrageous hair stylings, percussionist, trumpet and saxophone ... (read more)

Report this review (#124828) | Posted by hippocampus | Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An awkward album to review considering, four songs are reproduced Mental Notes tracks, of these you'll notice that Rob Gillies brass replaced Wilkinson's guitars. Although I prefer the guitars, Rob Gillies Saxs and trumpets make the music a little more idiosyncratic while Wilkinson at times sound ... (read more)

Report this review (#122943) | Posted by Cheesecakemouse | Monday, May 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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