Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Split Enz


Split Enz

Having helmed several music blogs since 2002, I have never particularly written about the artists to whom I have had a special affinity (the notable exception would be Frank Zappa). Most anyone reading this knows that I expended a fair bit of effort in a pre-internet world on Split Enz.

I saw them live a number of times from roughly 1977 (Golden Bear, Huntington Beach, CA) to 1984 (“Enz With A Bang”, Auckland, NZ). I’ve met most of them, I have a literal ‘score’ of records and videos. I recently worked on generating a DVD-R of some of my Split Enz music videos – “Maybe”, “Spellbound”, “Late Last Night”, “Lovey Dovey”, “Sweet Dreams”, “Bold As Brass” etc. An entire 1982 MTV live show (66 minutes) from Hamilton, Canada (when it got released as a Sony video Album, it was edited to 54 minutes); a plethora of US TV appearances – being interviewed by Tom Snyder, Dick Clark…

So, for me – Split Enz represent my ascent into the (music) video age. When I went to New Zealand, there were only a few 45’s I had to turn up – but I didn’t have ANY of their music videos! I borrowed a ¾” U-matic videocassette from Mike Chunn that I took to a video post-production house somewhere in Auckland and had converted from PAL ¾” to NTSC Beta (BII) – unfortunately, it was so early on – it wasn’t “hi-fi” (as I painfully noticed while the low-fi audio transferred effortlessly to DVD-R last month).

It would be pointless for me to post even a partial discography for Split Enz – I can just say that if you do not already own a copy, I recommend “Mental Notes”, their original NZ / Australian full-length album – on either LP or CD. The one that’s best that’s somewhat easy to find in the US is also called “Mental Notes”, but it has a pink border on the cover and is on Chrysalis Records, that one is known as “Second Thoughts” in Australasia. It’s good, too.

If the progressive rock of 1975 Enz isn’t quite your kettle of fish – try the more new wave-y “True Colours” or “Waiata” (also known as “Coroboree”) – but be careful on which CD version you get – the Australian WEA re-master CD of “Waiata” / “Coroboree” has indeed been remixed – more than just a little.

I never really warmed to Neil Finn – much less any of his post-Enz activities. It was always so unusual – his attitude towards enthusiastic fans – he was so derisive and dismissive at times. Why would anyone creating art in public generate so much disdain towards the people who love and support what you do?

A final shout out to Phil Judd, the man who wrote a lot of material for the original Split Enz. I did my best to follow his work from afar – it was hard work being a Swingers fan in Los Angeles, where nobody cared. Somehow Schnell Fenster got a US release (well, their first album) – but his work essentially remains obscure in the US. I wish him the best of luck navigating the Australian press / fans through his recent troubles.


Anonymous said...

"Why would anyone creating art in public generate so much disdain towards the people who love and support what you do? "

Projection of self-hatred, perhaps?

Brian Ware said...

I'll keep those thoughts in mind when I see Mr. Finn at the end of this month. Crowded House is coming to Orlando to support their new LP, and since Kenna and some of our friends really wanted to go, I'll be there. The kids are coming with us as well.

Considering all that's gone under the bridge both Finn-wise and of course with my long time Enz fandom, it will be an interesting evening for sure. I've always been ambivalent towards Neil's post Enz work - I genuinely loved the CH debut, but have found much inconsistency in his other work, particularly his solo LPs and the collaborations with Tim.

Stay tuned...

Warren Bowman said...

Crowded House never did anything for me, but I thought Neil did interesting stuff on two of his solo albums, "Try Whistling This", and One Nil". But what surprised me most is how much I really liked his "Seven Worlds Collide", a live all-star collection recorded in Auckland. I liked it, I liked it a lot.