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Split Enz

Crossover Prog

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Split Enz Frenzy album cover
2.79 | 23 ratings | 6 reviews | 4% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I See Red (3:15) *
2. Give It a Whirl (2:49)
3. Master Plan (3:07)
4. Famous People (2:51)
5. Hermit McDermitt (4:07)
6. Stuff and Nonsense (4:22)
7. Marooned (2:50)
8. Frenzy (2:55)
9. The Roughest Toughest Game in the World (3:34)
10. She Got Body She Got Soul (2:53)
11. Betty (4:39)
12. Abu Dhabi (4:27)
13. Mind over Matter (2:57)

Total Time 44:46

* not present on first LP edition

Bonus tracks on 2006 remaster:
14. Semi Detached (5:05)
15. Carried Away (4:34)
16. Horse to Water (3:06)

Line-up / Musicians

- Eddie Rayner / keyboards, piano, vocals, backing vocals
- Malcolm Green / drums, backing vocals
- Neil Finn / guitar, vocals
- Nigel Griggs / bass, vocals, backing vocals
- Noel Crombie / percussion, vocals, backing vocals
- Tim Finn / acoustic guitar, piano, vocals

Releases information

David Tickle - Producer
Mallory Earl - Engineer, Producer
Marlis Duncklau - Assistant Engineer
Hugh Padgham - Engineer

Thanks to Terra Australis for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SPLIT ENZ Frenzy ratings distribution

(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (57%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SPLIT ENZ Frenzy reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

IMHO, this is the last album from Enz that can interest the progheads unless they are into new wave-type that will pollute the airwaves and ears of the youth some five years later in the early 80's. By the time this album was out, Nick Judd was probably a distant memory, but the Finn brothers, Raynor and Crombie soldiered on with their weird arty-pop rock that was losing a bit of its prog tendencies with each new album, but the group remained quite adventurous sounding like Devo and Autobahn-Kraftwerk on one side, like Queen and 10CC ion the other. What might surprise the proghead is that this 1978 album seemed quite a bit ahead of its time, as you'd expect this to be from 82 or 83. A relatively tame artwork (comparing to the usual nutty looks adorned by the band.

Right from the opening I See Red track, you are struck with a . frenzy pop where the short tracks (13 of them) only worry about the essential, and can even sound post- punk/new Wave electro pop at times (like Hermit, Marooned, She Got Body and the closing Mind Over Matter), which is definitely a step downwards for us progheads. But one has to remember that after the group's move on the opposite side of the planet, they had to survive to UK's ever-changing musical scene, as a return trip seemed very difficult. So they chose to ride the ultra-pop wave but keeping their pastiche sound and quaint humour.

But spread throughout the album, there are still some tracks that are reminiscent of their previous albums (Give It A Whirl, Master Plan, the slightly Genesis-esque Stuff And Nonsense, the frantic title track, Roughest Toughest with its slight mellotron touch, Betty and the dynamic Abu Dhabi) and could easily fit on Queen's or 10CC's better albums. One could even mention The Sparks when talking of this present album. Not only are most of these songs (we can safely talk of standard songs here) well written, somewhat complex, full of subtle sound effects, and present the ambiances we like.

If you've been wondering what Enz is doing in the PA database, I suggest that you try out the first few albums and look no further than this album; unless you're sure you're into 80's electro-pop. I wouldn't exactly call this album good, but it is the very last one that deserves a listen, IMHO.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars During the first notes of "I See Red", it is obvious that the band decided to surf on the new wave. wave. And most of the album is of that vein: deeply rooted in the late seventies sound. Not ahead of this time: just in-line IMHHO.

Indeed, some "Devo" influence can be noticed (let's remember that their great Q- Are We Not Men- A-We Are Devo was recorded in 78), the humour of the irresistible "Gruppo Sportivo" (from The Netherlands) in "Master Plan" and the melancholy of "Fisher-Z" during the start of "Famous Plan" is evident as well.

All these bands brought some fresh air and offered some kind of reconstruction after the devastating (but fun) punk surge.

There are of course some blunders here as well. "Hermit McDermitt" belongs to these. Some type of grotesque song but not really funny. The band had done much better previously in this style.

For old fans, "Marooned" and "Frenzy" will bring them back in their crazy and so funny world. Great arrangements la "10CC" of course; this is also to be noticed in the very good "Betty" which is one of my fave.

Still, the overall feeling is that their best times are behind them. I understand that not all numbers of an album can be jewels but "She Got Body She Got Soul" is far to reach this level. Even if, again, the arrangements are quite good.

In terms of originality, fun, frenzy and craziness, the Palme d'Or is with no doubt for "Abu Dhabi". A great "Split Enz" song. One of their best actually (all time, not only here).

As far as I am concerned, there is little interest for a proghead but if new wave suits you (and why not?) as it has suited me, this album is worth a listen.

Three stars.

Review by russellk
2 stars 'Frenzy' is SPLIT ENZ's transitional album. The prog rock sound of their debut was only ever a vehicle for the band's zaniness, and the the musical climate of the times demanded it be cast aside. This the ENZ did with no regrets, and went on to craft some compelling new-wave pop music in the early 1980s. This album falls neatly between the two ENZ eras: a thousand mediocre ideas thrown about in the recording studio, this time sliced thirteen rather than nine ways.

'I See Red' is iconic ENZ, summarising everything about their frantic, unhinged sound in one new wave track: fast-paced, keyboard and guitar driven, with a huge chorus hook still used at sports venues in New Zealand. There are magic moments in many of the other songs- the end of 'Give it a Whirl' could have been expanded, for example - but the band were contracting their sound, making it manageable. While this gave them great success with their next album, 'True Colours', it leaves them between stools here. Worse, the vocals are too far back in the mix, rendering the sound even more hesitant than it ought to be. Most of the songs are merely cleverly arranged fluff. The passion is gone; this is music to ensure economic survival, and it doesn't work, as evidenced by such clunkers as 'Hermit McDermitt', a waste of vinyl. Occasionally they get it right, as with 'Betty' and 'Abu Dhabi', but those songs excepted this is rather a miserable effort.

If you want the proggy SPLIT ENZ, go for their debut album. If you want the well-crafted, dreamy pop they later become famous for, grab 'True Colours' or go listen to NEIL FINN's CROWDED HOUSE. Just don't bother with this.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars I've been on a sort of "catch up" binge as of late, trying to sample at least one album by some of the groups and artists considered to be progressive (in one way or another) that I didn't get around to hearing in my younger days. Gotta say it's been a hit-or-miss endeavor. In most cases they didn't sound exactly like I thought they would and it wasn't always a wholly satisfactory experience, either. The ones that I've found to be most worthwhile were the ones who hailed from off-the- beaten-path areas of the planet where they were less likely to be tempted to simply pantomime what was trendy in the American or European markets at the time. I think that's what made Bjork's eclectic brand of music intriguing to my ears and I'm pretty sure that's what made this record by the New Zealand homeboys in Split Enz a pleasant though somewhat inconsistent listen. Another factor that I'm very aware of is that often the musical entities labeled as crossover or prog-related are here because they went through a phase in their career that qualified them as such but it doesn't mean that they stayed in a progressive mode. So when I pick a disc at random (as is my wont to do) I realize that it may or may not be representative of their more adventurous work that landed them a spot in Progland. Can't help it, though, it's the way I do my investigative business. In the case of these southern hemisphere inhabitants, their 1979 release, "Frenzy," got the luck of the draw.

They opened with "I See Red," a raucous song with a decidedly New Wave flavor bolstered by the obligatory thin Farfisa organ that bops and dances through the track. While I was hoping for something a little more profound I have to admit that Eddie Rayner's too-brief piano solo was exhilarating. The tune wasn't a big turn off but it did suffer from being very dated. But, fortunately, they valued variety in their craftsmanship so the next cut, "Give it a Whirl," was a totally different marsupial. Its spacious depth of field captured my interest from the get go and the fact that it sounded like something The Move (one of my favorite proto-prog outfits) would've concocted was a huge plus. On the bouncy "Master Plan" I did note that their unorthodox approach to pop music was refreshing in that it wasn't overly formulaic aka Alan Parsons Project or downright silly like a lot of 10cc's stuff. They had a frolicsome aura all their own. The bass-heavy "Famous People" followed and all I can remark about it is that it was unremarkable. "Hermit McDermitt" was an odd duck of a number. Like a lot of groups that enjoyed some success in the 70s, these guys gave the impression here that they were unsure of what direction they should be going in as the decade was coming to a close. However, I admired their spunky attitude that allowed them to freely employ a Jews Harp and a rocking polka beat without shame. The title of the next tune, "Stuff and Nonsense," had me ready for some weird shenanigans but it's one of the finest cuts on the album. Delicate acoustic piano, Tim Finn's heartfelt vocals and a tactful string score accentuated by tympani and billowing cymbals established and maintained a graceful motif that's reminiscent of the early Bee Gees material. By saying that I don't mean to give the impression that it's a rip-off piece at all and besides, it's a compliment. The Brothers Gibb were quite proggy in the beginning. It's a beautiful love song that I found highly emotional and worthy of revisiting often.

"Marooned" took me somewhere else entirely. While the overall production of this album is noticeably unpolished I was repeatedly entertained by the originality contained in their compositions. They were just far enough away from the mainstream to be designated as cool. Speaking of unusual, "Frenzy" followed and it's a strange little ditty that came off like it was going to be an instrumental at first but then they ended up adding spoken word segments and a vocal chorus to it. "The Roughest Toughest Game in the World" possessed a light Supertramp (what an influence that band was!) vibe that granted it a gleaming ray of sheen but, alas, the number never located and locked into its mojo. "She Got Body She Got Soul" had a swinging shuffle groove that provided a welcome change of pace moment but its nostalgic 60s doo wop hue got old real quick. With "Betty" I found it difficult to find anything concrete to grab onto and savor. I respected their non-commercial mien but sometimes their arrangements wandered all over the place so much they never were able to settle into a solid groove. "Abu Dhabi" was a genuine treat. Drummer Malcom Green and percussionist Noel Cromble generated a rollicking rumble underneath this accordion- driven rocker that was irresistible. It was a fun ride through some imaginative streams of mayhem and I liked it mainly due to it being as incomparable to anything else as I've come across in many years. They ended with "Mind over Matter" in which Neil Finn's heavy guitar laid down a metallic foundation below Tim's convoluted melody line while full 3-part harmonies filled up the background.

The group was a major hit with their countrymen and in nearby Australia but their quirkiness never really caught on in the states and they remained basically a fringe act until they disbanded in the mid-80s. It's a pity I didn't discover them back in their heyday because I think I would've been strongly attracted to their offbeat style and their "anything goes" approach to recording. "Frenzy" isn't a great record but it does serve to remind us that rock & roll will forever be impossible to restrict to a particular way of thinking or design and this disc's uniqueness makes it stand out from the average bull in the herd. I'm sure that the members of Split Enz got a lot of advice from the record company suits about how they could become more accessible and, therefore, profitable if they'd be more conservative-minded but they chose to be none other than who and what they were. For that stubborn rebellious streak "Frenzy" earned a few more points. 3.1 stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Recorded at a time when Split Enz was transitioning from an eccentric, uncommercial, progressive pop-rock outfit to a more mainstream (though still somewhat eccentric) and polished new wave act, Frenzy displays a rawer, more modest side of a band apparently in search of a new cohesive identity. Gon ... (read more)

Report this review (#699063) | Posted by filster8 | Thursday, March 29, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A transitional album for Enz, the beginning of their more popish career. I really do sympathise with Enz going more pop, they had to, to survive actually Tim was going to call it quits if it wasn't for the success of I See Red. Make no mistake the songs on this album are decent, they still have ... (read more)

Report this review (#124976) | Posted by Cheesecakemouse | Thursday, June 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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