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Crossover Prog • New Zealand

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Split Enz biography
Perhaps better known to most as a successful New Zealand, (and NZ's most successful band and hugely popular in NZ and Australia) new wave act from the early 1980s. SPLIT ENZ did in fact start life as a prog band formed in 1972 originally spelt SPLIT ENDS (the spelling changed to Enz when the band left New Zealand), by friends at Auckland University Phil Judd (Guitar, vocals) and Brian (Tim) Finn (Vocals, piano, guitar), who had an inspired period of song writing together. Their early sound was a mixture of vaudeville and influences of the Beatles, Genesis, Yes, Roxy Music, Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant. Tim's singing style was influenced a little by Brian Ferry while Phil Judd by Roger Chapman of Family.

The line-up of the band was pretty fluid throughout the bands career sacking and employing many people, but two members that would play a key roll in Split Enz, Keyboard whizz Anthony (Eddie) Raynor who would flesh out the bands sound and percussionist/costume designer/stage designer Noel (Geoffrey) Crombie, would add wacky percussion and create the costumes and stage shows that made the band an incredibly unique theatrical juggernaut. >
SPLIT ENZ eventually caught the eye of Roxy Music member Phil Manzanera, the band moved to the UK in 1976 and Manzanera their second album, Second Thoughts.
The UK proved to be a difficult time for the band, Punk music became popular which made it a hostile environment for ENZ to be in, they did not have an agent to book them concerts and promote them, therefore their album did not sell well. After a disastrous US tour, and increasingly erratic behaviour on stage Phil Judd, the bands main songwriter left the group.

Tim's younger brother Neil (guitar, vocals), joined the band in 1977 to replace Phil, the band had a fresh start in inspiration, but due to not having a big enough impact in the UK Chrysalis dropped them. The band became more accessible form 1978 onwards and by 1980 were a successful new wave band reclaiming UK as well as Europe, and topping the Canadian and Australian charts thanks to Neil's ability to write catchy pop songs while Tim's more reflective melancholy pieces. Although the band was now more new wave in style, until 1983 they had still retained some of their zany spirit partially due to Eddie's keyboards. Popularity waned for the band in 1983 partially due to Tim pursuing his solo career. By 1984, Tim had left the band to pursue his own solo career, the band cut one more album; ...
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History Never Repeats: The Best of Split EnzHistory Never Repeats: The Best of Split Enz
A&M 2006
Audio CD$2.93
$1.98 (used)
Maiden AustraliaMaiden Australia
Jdc Records 2016
$13.14 (used)
Time & TideTime & Tide
Import · Remastered
Mushroom Records 2007
Audio CD$10.46
$20.39 (used)
True ColoursTrue Colours
Universal UK 2003
Audio CD$4.91
$7.98 (used)
True ColoursTrue Colours
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Mushroom Records 2007
Audio CD$8.94
$8.93 (used)
Conflicting EmotionsConflicting Emotions
Phantom Sound & Vision 1992
Audio CD$149.98
Split Enz:History Never Repeats [VHS]Split Enz:History Never Repeats [VHS]
Umgd 1987
VHS Tape$129.80
Second ThoughtsSecond Thoughts
Import · Remastered
Mushroom Records 2007
Audio CD$9.23
$9.22 (used)
Best of: Split EnzBest of: Split Enz
Chrysalis 1994
Audio CD$15.00
$4.30 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
SPLIT ENZ: Time Tide LP A&M RECORDS SP3256 US NM- USD $5.59 Buy It Now
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SPLIT ENZ Waiata LP USD $3.00 Buy It Now
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Split Enz I Got You Australian CD single (CD5 / 5") MUSH017012 MUSHROOM 1997 USD $36.52 Buy It Now 8h 41m
Split Enz Time And Tide Australian vinyl LP album record RML53012 USD $25.17 Buy It Now 9h 8m
Split Enz One Step Ahead - Laser Etched 7" vinyl single record UK AMS8146 USD $14.55 Buy It Now 9h 23m
Split Enz Six Months In A Leaky Boat 7" vinyl single record UK AMS8216 A USD $13.20 Buy It Now 10h 19m
Beginning Of The Enz Split Enz UK vinyl LP album record CHR1329 CHRYSALIS 1980 USD $20.19 Buy It Now 10h 32m
Split Enz I Got You 7" vinyl single record UK AMS7546 A&M 1979 USD $13.20 Buy It Now 10h 46m
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Split Enz Waiata vinyl LP album record UK AMLH64848 A & M 1981 USD $15.87 Buy It Now 10h 51m
Split Enz LP Waiata 1981 A&M records SP 4848 USD $10.95 Buy It Now 10h 57m
Split Enz Mental Notes - 1st vinyl LP album record UK CHR1131 CHRYSALIS 1976 USD $31.81 Buy It Now 11h 4m
Conflicting Emotions Split Enz vinyl LP album record USA SP4963 A USD $21.19 Buy It Now 11h 5m
Split Enz 7" vinyl single record Poor Boy UK AMS8101 MUSHROOM 1981 USD $17.20 Buy It Now 11h 5m
Split Enz One Step Ahead - Laser Etched USA 7" vinyl single record AM2339 USD $15.20 Buy It Now 11h 5m
Split Enz I See Red 7" vinyl single record UK ILS0019 ILLEGAL RECORDS 1979 USD $26.50 Buy It Now 11h 5m
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Split Enz True Colours 12" LP Purple Cover 1980 Pop Rock New Wave A USD $8.99 Buy It Now 17h 24m
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SPLIT ENZ History Never Repeats UK 7" PS Laser Etched 80s POP Neil Finn Tim Finn USD $9.85 Buy It Now 21h 9m
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SPLIT ENZ - History Never Repeats: Best Of (Vinyl LP) A&M SP3289 USD $12.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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Split Enz My Mistake 12" vinyl single record (Maxi) UK CHS2170 CHRYSALIS 1977 USD $18.52 Buy It Now 1 day
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Neil Finn Framed Picture Crowded House Split Enz USD $3.79 [0 bids]
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SPLIT ENZ discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

SPLIT ENZ top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 46 ratings
Mental Notes
2.86 | 20 ratings
Second Thoughts (AKA Mental Notes)
3.38 | 21 ratings
2.81 | 19 ratings
2.94 | 31 ratings
True Colours
3.16 | 17 ratings
Corroboree/ Waiata
3.73 | 23 ratings
Time and Tide
1.89 | 16 ratings
Conflicting Emotions
1.40 | 15 ratings
See Ya 'Round
3.71 | 7 ratings
Rootin' Tootin' Luton Sessions

SPLIT ENZ Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.57 | 5 ratings
The Living Enz
4.05 | 3 ratings
2.67 | 3 ratings
Live in America

SPLIT ENZ Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.35 | 6 ratings
Split Enz

SPLIT ENZ Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.43 | 8 ratings
The Beginnings of the Enz
2.57 | 4 ratings
History Never Repeats: The Best of Split Enz (International version)
2.74 | 3 ratings
History Never Repeats: The Best of Split Enz (Australian version)
3.19 | 7 ratings
The Best of Split Enz
4.00 | 2 ratings

SPLIT ENZ Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Beginnings of the Enz by SPLIT ENZ album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1979
3.43 | 8 ratings

The Beginnings of the Enz
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by sl75

3 stars A collection of early singles, mostly predating the recording of Mental Notes, I bought this expecting an insight into their early development as a band that was initially considered progressive. Given that it consists entirely of singles, it is somewhat limited and not really representative of their most progressive side, since the single format demands shorter songs designed to catch the ears of radio programmers. It would be somewhat unfair to judge their progressive credentials based on this - after all, how many of the great prog titans would come out looking great if all we ever heard were their singles? eg Yes, ELP, Floyd etc

To start with, Split Enz favoured acoustic instruments, including flute and violin, and made music with a distinct folk edge. At it's best (such as on their first single and my personal favourite track, "For You"), it resembles prog folk groups such as Comus (without the bloodshed), Spirogyra, or the acoustic side of Jethro Tull. However, there was also a side to their early writing that leaned toward jug-band ragtime, as though they were attempting to be New Zealand's answer to the Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band; and although the two sides coexist in the best tracks, the raggy side seems to dominate here. That songwriting approach continues into the later recordings, even as the sound of the band changes, becoming more electric and keyboard-led - in that timbral context, the songs take on the character of zany, arty pop. Which is exactly the direction Split Enz ulimately followed (though with gradually decreasing levels of zaniness and artiness). Aside from "For You", the proggiest track here is the re-recorded version of "Spellbound", with it's more symphonic keyboard textures - nevertheless, it's a much more smoothed out and radio-friendly version of that song, compared to the much more edgy version on Mental Notes.

 Mental Notes by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.06 | 46 ratings

Mental Notes
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by sl75

4 stars After three years of singles only, Mental Notes allowed Split Enz more room to stretch out, and prog out! It veers very close to being symphonic prog in several places - "Under The Wheel" and "Stranger Than Fiction" particularly - and even in the poppier tracks there are still wigged out prog moments, like the keyboard interlude in "Amy" or the ending of "Song Long For Now". They certainly have great instrumental firepower, particularly in main keyboard player Eddie Rayner. However, there are few extended showcases for the instrumentalists - the focus remains on the vocals at nearly all times. That is potentially the album's weakness, because both singers at this point favoured an overly theatrical, highly mannered vocal approach that can be off-putting, especially from Phil Judd - it took me a few listens to get past that and begin to appreciate the compositions. It's probably the vocals rather than the prog elements that kept them from being an immediate commercial success, considering there are plenty of otherwise radio-friendly moments here - "Amy", "So Long For Now", "Time For A Change" (which resembles an early Elton John ballad at times), "Maybe", "Spellbound" (the version here, with Judd on vocals is far too edgy - the re-recorded version featured on The Beginning Of The Enz shows how much difference a smoother vocal approach could make to the accessibility of some of these compositions) - among the more overtly proggy tracks like "Walking Down A Road", "Under A Wheel", "Stranger Than Fiction", and "Titus". I have definitely found the album to be a grower - if you can learn to love the vocal approach, this album sits up amongst the best of Australian/NZ prog of the era.
 Mental Notes by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.06 | 46 ratings

Mental Notes
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by A_Flower

4 stars Mental Notes is probably one of the most underrated records of all time. It is truly beutiful and underrated. Most people know the Split Enz from their pop music though the start of there discography is an amazing prog album fronted by Phil Judd and Tim Finn

By the start of the album, you can tell this is prog. This is "Walking Down a Road." A sound fades in that almost sounds it is underwater and climbs up to drums and bass with a beutiful meldody following brought by gutair and keyboards. The beginning of this song is amazing and is good and steady, however, around the two minute mark, it sort of looses it's tempo and the rest of the song seems a little scattered. The begaining is sort of reprised done well but the second part of this song kind of looses itself. Although it does get scattered it's still quite nice

The second song on the album starts with creepy keyboard and a dark sounding intro. This is "Under the Wheel." It is seven minutes being the longest track on Mental Notes. The lyrics of this song were written by Phil Judd, and they are dark about his struggle with drug abuse and other depression problems. The melodies are dark and creepy after the first stanza and at one point through, it get's bizarre for a quick 9 seconds, they get wild and crazy and sort of insane, and in a split second go back as before. After a few moments we get Phil Judd screaming "IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!" After this comes poetry about death. The album ends with piano and some melodies and slowing ends with the sound of a river. This song isn't the scariest ever, but quite strange and definitely a masterpiece.

The third track cheers us up more as a love song. This is called "Amy (Darling)." It is a personal favorite of mine, with an amazing melody around the minute and a half mark. At one point the song stops and you just hear crickets. The song ends with some satisfying touches. One of my favorite parts of this album.

The albums next track is "So Long For Now." This is not as good as Amy or many other tracks on the album, though it has some nice moment. Though there isn't much memorable in it.

The next track is probably the best on the album. "Stranger Than Fiction." It starts with a melody on the synthesizers and goes right into a spacy feel after this. It's like this until the minute and a half mark. When the drums take you down to a frightening part with poetry that sounds like Edgar Alan Poe and laughing babies. In the background, you here strange mechanical sounds and piano. Then you hear, Tim Finn sing-speak "It's a story, of my LIFE!" And it all explodes into it's earlier spacy feel. After a few minutes of this part, you hear children playing and Finn singing with some scatting too. This continues by a part mostly heard by the gutair and drums and a strange whistling. This is followed by the songs spacy meldies and another lyric break with more scat. The song ends with it's starting synthosizer meldody. Astonishing.

Stranger Than Fiction leads into the next song, "Time For a Change." This is slow, brought by piano. It soon erupts into more mellotron. This song ends very well, though i often listen to it right after Stranger Than Fiction, for it doesn't sound as different.

After our 9 minutes of slow and beautiful bitter sweetness, we get a very happy fun tune. "Maybe." I really LOVE this one. It's an overall guilty pleasure tune with much fun and love seen in it. Sung by both Judd and Finn, with piano leading it all. It ends with a reprising scat melody.

The next track on the album is called "Titus". They use a ukulele through this. This song is okay, but not as good as Maybe. I do love the near end of it though near 2 and a half minutes though.

And here is the grand finally, "Spellbound." Started by what sounds line a gong. Then comes a small build up over an accusitc gutair including the same whistling from stranger than fiction and piano with a few small guitar licks, it then gives us a melody and Judd sings. The song is very positive in lyrics, "The way things are, we'll get there in the end, the way things are, we won't have to pretend, that were all spellbound."

Suddenly, Spellbound comes to an end and we get the 35 second title track, ending us at a weird place.

If you're looking for an underrated prog rock album, i highly recommend this debut that was introduced to me by my aunt. And that's why I give it four stars.


1. Stranger Than Fiction 2. Under the Wheel 3. Amy (Darling) 4. Maybe 5. Walking Down a Road 6. Spellbound 7. So Long For Now 8. Titus 9. Time For a Change 10. Mental Notes

Favorite quote from album: "Death, glorious death, is just another bed to sleep. Yes, death, glorious death, is just another appointment to keep." -From "Under the Wheel"

 Frenzy by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.81 | 19 ratings

Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

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.

 True Colours by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.94 | 31 ratings

True Colours
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by obiter
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Can't remember if I first heard a track from this on OGWT but whatever it was this was an eclectic pop album. With the successful single "I got you" mixed in there. Poor Boy is the stand out track. Memories of early teens are hard to banish.

For me as a progster Splti Enz oddly revolves around Noel Crombie rather than the Finns (a which we know reached its peak with Crowded House (Bring the weather with you etc).

There is still with a little Crombie oddness about the style and art of the band. But it remains a pop album (a little new wave~with a prescient modern romantic visual style). One that I really like because of growing up with it, but I can't see a place for it in a prog collection.

 The Beginnings of the Enz by SPLIT ENZ album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1979
3.43 | 8 ratings

The Beginnings of the Enz
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by filster8

3 stars (3.5 stars) Noting that this album only had four ratings on this site, I felt somewhat compelled to promote its' evidently little known virtues. Unlike some other compilations of early recordings, this one does not simply reflect the raw and tentative beginnings of a band that would evolve into a major act (at least in Australia/New Zealand and Canada), but, as suggested by the previous reviewers, a strong collection of original, heartfelt, musically rich and diverse songs, that are definitely worth listening to in their own right. Not only is this album essential to appreciate a crucial period in Split Enz' career and its evolution, but it holds its weight against much of the band's later output.

Like most of Split Enz's music, the songs on this album are difficult to categorize, and though one can certainly discern the link between these songs and their early albums, the sound is really quite unique. In general terms, it could be described as offbeat progressive folk-rock, with strong vaudevillian or music hall influences. However, while prog-rock tendencies are evident and the compositions are enriched by an impressive ensemble of instruments, including the violin, flute, saxophone, mandolin, keyboard and tambourine, this is still a few steps removed from the more art-rock oriented material of their first albums (Mental Notes, Second Thoughts or even Dyzrhithmia, which would be released a few years later). Despite the presence at times of many instruments, the songs are essentially less complex and more acoustically-based. Of course Split Enz's quirky sense of humour, weirdness and zaniness are as present as ever in the music as well as the lyrics. However, to a greater extent than would be the case later, the songs are rooted in local folklore, tradition and humour (though I have never been to New Zealand, I assume this to be the case and this is confirmed by the previous two kiwi reviewers). This lends these recordings a more earthy and unpretentious quality than is usually present in Split Enz's later material. Indeed, I find the music to be at times touchingly innocent in its earnestness and enthusiasm. This is exemplified by two of the best tracks, '129' and 'Lovey Dovey', which were re-recorded for the album Second Thoughts, an outstanding, more prog-rock oriented album, but which slightly over-does these two tracks, losing the more spontaneous feel of the originals. On Beginning of the Enz, '129' is lighter and moves faster, while "Lovey Duvey' sounds more direct, enabling the listener to better appreciate its catchy chorus. Like several other tracks on this album, these songs have sections with enticing vaudevillian/music hall arrangements, which are comically danceable. My favourite, 'No Bother to Me' alternates between a gloomy piano melody with melancholic vocals and lyrics, and an almost euphoric vaudevillian cabaret atmosphere. Some other tracks, however, in particular the ones from their first single, 'Split Ends' and 'For You', are more folk-based, dominated by acoustic guitar and the flute, though still rather strange and moving. Meanwhile, 'Spellbound' (re-recorded for 'Mental Notes") is a well-constructed piece of progressive folk with a darker atmosphere.

Ultimately, there is certainly something self-contradictory and even slightly schizophrenic in this music: progressive, eclectic, and innovative and slightly progressive on the one hand, while folk-based and traditional on the other. And in fact, this contradictory/schizophrenic character perhaps characterizes Split Enz's entire musical career; their frenetic changes in melodies and rhythms (most evident in their earlier work); their eventual conversion from avant-garde and eccentric forms of pop-rock to catchy new wave pop, not to mention the different musical styles explored along the way. Be that as it may, The Beginning of the Enz is certainly an album to be appreciated by more than just die-hard Split Enz fans in my view.... Of course, this is obviously just the opinion of one of those die-hards.

 Corroboree/ Waiata by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.16 | 17 ratings

Corroboree/ Waiata
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by filster8

3 stars Waiata (Corroboree in Australia) is usually seen as an acceptable, yet somewhat less original, safe follow-up to Split Enz's breakthrough album, True Colours, released a year earlier. Indeed, this is perhaps Split Enz's only lateral move, essentially maintaining the sharp, new wave-like sound of True Colours, albeit in a slightly darker vein; although considering that the band had practically changed its style on each of their previous 5 albums, one can hardly blame them for capitalizing on the style that finally brought them some of the attention they very much deserved. And to its defence, Waiata has some very fine moments, making it an enjoyable album in its own right. Best of all, the lead track, 'Hard Act to Follow', is an endearing piece of unrelenting, rhythmic melody, penned by Tim Finn, which should have been a major new wave hit. While the song received some AOR air play in parts of the US and Canada (notably, it was one of Split Enz's most played songs on our main local rock station in Montreal in the early 1980s), for some mysterious reason, it was nearly ignored in the band's Australasian home turf. However, the more mainstream, yet still strong Neil Finn compositions, 'One Step Ahead' and 'History Never Repeats', did become big hit singles down-under (the former also a moderate hit in Canada, and the latter on the US mainstream rock chart). The album also contains one of Split Enz's most dignified instrumental compositions, 'Albert of India', and continues with some of True Colours' playful use of synthesizers and humours lyrics, notably with the quirky and enticing 'Clumsy'. Other songs that deserve and received some attention include 'Iris' and 'I Don't Want to Dance', though beyond these (and others aforementioned), the material may be a little thin, or at least less interesting, to most audiences. Waiata went platinum in Australasia and gold in Canada, and there are enough strong tracks on the album to consider it a good effort even if it generally does not break any new grounds (and Hard Act to Follow still stands as one my favourite under-appreciated Split Enz tunes).
 True Colours by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.94 | 31 ratings

True Colours
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by filster8

3 stars (3.5 stars) Split Enz's international breakthrough album, True Colours, stands as one of the highlights of the new wave era, with the band virtually shedding its more eccentric musical ambitions in favour of a vivid and polished, slightly left-of-centre, pop sound that makes heavy use of synthesizers and rhythmic percussion. No other songs on the album achieve the brilliance of the first track, 'I Got You' (also Split Enz's biggest hit single), but there are enough otherwise strong tracks to make True Colours consistently enjoyable, interesting and original. While it is difficult to identify definite traces of Split Enz's progressive rock past in this "power pop" reincarnation of the band, there is still something idiosyncratic and offbeat in the music which, together with the explorative use of synthesizers (particularly on two instrumental tracks, 'The Choral Sea' and 'Double Happy'), provides hints of an unconventional, more artistic side of the band. Meanwhile, Split Enz's penchant for humour and quirkiness, evident since the beginning of their recordings, continues to animate their style and song-writing, albeit in a more catchy, pop-oriented fashion, as best evidenced in the delightful 'Shark Attack', 'What's the Matter with you' and 'Nobody Takes me Seriously'. The only song other than 'I Got You' to make it as a hit single from the album (at least in Australasia) is the love ballad, 'I Hope I Never', which features an impressive vocal performance by Tim Finn, though it may have been perceived as somewhat too sentimental and 'uncool' to Split Enz's newly-found new wave audience. However, several other tracks had hit single potential and received significant radio airplay, in particular the moody, melodic and inspired 'Poor Boy', a favourite among Enz fans, and one with a slightly progressive musical arrangement. With hardly a weak track on the album and it's strong pop-orientation, True Colours was Split Enz's most commercially successful album (though not quite their best in my view), reaching multi-platinum status in Australia and New Zealand, platinum status in Canada, and scraping the top 40 in the US (the highest Split Enz ever charted in that country).
 Frenzy by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.81 | 19 ratings

Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by filster8

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. Gone are the more experimental and ambitious arrangements, the vaudevillian theatrics, and (as can be seen by the album's cover) the zany costumes and make-up, to give way to a less innovative, yet more spontaneous and still creative output, which at times borders on brilliancy. (Here, I must clarify that I am referring to the 1981 North American/UK remixed version of Frenzy (or later Australian remix), which I understand is considered better than the original 1979 Australian/New Zealand version, as many of the tracks were substituted by their superior, original recordings from the so-called 'Rootin' Tootin' Luton Tapes', and were complemented by two particularly fine tracks not present on the original album, 'Semi-Detached' and 'Carried Away'). Frenzy offers an eclectic mix of frenetic punkish pop songs and well-crafted pop-rock compositions, sometimes incorporating harder electric guitar riffs than previously and greater use of synthesizers (perhaps due to the elimination of Rob Gillies' brass section), as well as a few rather wacky compositions, and even some slightly experimental material reminiscent of Split Enz's prog-rock past. Most significant within this rather odd assortment is the highly energized 'I See Red', an Australian top 20 hit which foreshadowed Split Enz's new wave pop sound and commercial success (achieved with their next album True Colours), though its quirky edges may have prevented it from becoming an international hit. However, there are other strong tracks. Notably, 'Semi-detached' incorporates prog-rock influences in a powerfully delivered, evocative reflection on modern society's atomization. While most songs are still written and sung by Tim Finn, 'Give it a Whirl' and 'Carried Away' reveal younger brother Neil Finn to be a talented song-writer, singer, as well as a zesty guitar player. 'Hermit McDermitt' and 'Mind over Matter' continue with the quirky punkish pop of 'I See Red', though somewhat less successfully, while at the other extreme, 'Betty' is a pleasant pop-rock ballad and 'Stuff and Nonsense' is a truly, beautiful, piano-based love song. Unfortunately, Frenzy also has its share of weaker tracks, so that the album does seem rather uneven, in addition to lacking a clear musical identity. Nevertheless, in view of the strong material that is there, and the diversity of this material, I still consider Frenzy to be a good album overall, and an important one to appreciate the evolution of one of the most original bands of the era.
 Second Thoughts (AKA Mental Notes) by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.86 | 20 ratings

Second Thoughts (AKA Mental Notes)
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by filster8

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 in fact reworked versions of Split Enz's first album, the Australasian 'Mental Notes', this second release is often compared to the first, and opinions are divided on which versions of the songs are superior. The original Mental Notes is undoubtedly a creative high point for the band, and with its more extensive use of electric guitar, mellotron and symphonic arrangements, it is arguably more representative of the progressive rock tradition; on the other hand, Second Thoughts, which replaces some of the guitar and mellotron parts by brass instruments and the violin, has superior production values (it was produced by Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera), and greater integration of vaudevillian, jazz and pop elements (already hinting at the Split Enz's future directions). Considering Second Thoughts' more vibrant and defined sound, and the fact that it also includes the gems, 'Late Last Night' and 'The Woman Who Loves You', it is in my view (and others strongly disagree) the better of the two albums. Be that as it may, it is certain that the album's unusual mix of musical styles, abrupt changes in rhythms and melody, and eccentric theatrics will always be unfathomable to many listeners, including prog fans. Yet, the sheer originality and diversity of the material is really quite exceptional (assuming Second Thoughts is considered in its own right and not compared to Mental Notes) and for this, the album deserves true praise and recognition. Indeed, from the complex, musical structure of the mysterious 7-minute 'Stranger Than Fiction', to the commanding opening and eclectic musical arrangements of 'Walking Down a Road', to the infectious melody and keenly romantic lyrics of 'Late Last Night', passing by the darker piano-based composition and brooding lyrics of 'Time for a Change', changing two thirds of the way into a powerful electric guitar-led instrumental, the upbeat folk/vaudevillian/pop of the bright 'Matinee Idyll' and amusing 'Lovey Duvey', the strange humour, piano and spoon solos of 'The Woman Who Loves You', which further incorporates music hall/vaudeville influences, not to mention the gentle folk-rock and neo-classicism of 'Titus', and touching despair of 'Sweet Dreams', each track has a uniquely endearing quality to it. Once discovered, the album as a whole offers a layered landscape of original musical arrangements, intriguing sounds, evocative melodies, and passionately sung and composed lyrics.

Released towards the end of 1976 around the eve of the punk explosion in the UK, not fitting within any musical genre of any time, it is not surprising that Split Enz's Second Thoughts was largely ignored, though it helped to initiate, albeit in a minor way, the first cult following of the band outside of Australia and New Zealand. With the subsequent departure of co-leader Phil Judd, Split Enz gradually moved towards a more pop-oriented, yet still idiosyncratic direction, but it would still take some years before the band would head in a more commercial direction. Split Enz's later work is of course more well known and impressive as well (though still generally under-appreciated), but they never quite recaptured the bold originality of this earlier period...except perhaps in a very different way in 1982's excellent Time and Tide.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition. and to Fassbinder for the last updates

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