Split Enz ‎– Corroboree / Waiata (1981)

Waiata (aka Corroboree) is the sixth album by Split Enz, released in March 1981 on Mushroom Records in Oceania and A&M in the Northern Hemisphere.

Waiata features the pre-released single “One Step Ahead” and three additional Neil Finn songs, including “Iris,” an eerie, atmospheric love song with plucked electric guitar (in an odd tuning); and “Ships,” an oblique acoustic strumalong with spacey, swirling keyboards.

Neil opens side two with “History Never Repeats,” an exuberant live-and-learn tale where he recounts heartbreak over stormy musical passages that bring him to a realization (“there’s a light shining in the dark, leading me on towards a change of heart”) before the upward-spiraling outro.

Waiata features five Tim Finn compositions, including the bookends of side one: the frenzied “Hard Act to Follow” and the nervy “Clumsy,” both played with frenetic abandon. His “I Don’t Wanna Dance” is an uptempo song about post-breakup trepidation in the meet market. It breaks from its jolly G major center to an intense sequence of sharps and flats as Tim sighs “not without my baby.”

Tim wrote two haunted numbers on side two: “Walking Through the Ruins,” where cathedral demolition becomes a metaphor for heartbreak amid spinning musical interplay; and “Ghost Girl,” a slow, ethereal number influenced by the emerging goth scene.

Eddie contributed two instrumentals: the bubbling whirlwind “Wail” and the slow, piano-laden “Albert of India,” which has a melody and arrangement similar to the chart-topping Vangelis theme to Chariots of Fire, a British period sports drama released a month after Waiata.

The album appeared as Waiata in New Zealand and Corroboree in Australia, respectively the Maori and Aborigine words for song. According to percussionist and art director Noel Crombie, the plan was to title the album after the native translation in each country, hence multiple titles, but this was not pursued by A&M, which used the New Zealand title.

Waiata generated two Oceanic hit singles: “One Step Ahead” (OZ #5, NZ #6) and “History Never Repeats” (OZ #4, NZ #5), respectively the 12th and 28th videos aired on US cable network MTV during its first day of broadcast on August 1, 1981.

B4. “Ghost Girl” (4:25) | Writer: Tim Finn


A1. “Hard Act to Follow” (3:17)
A2. “One Step Ahead” (2:52)
A3. “I Don’t Wanna Dance” (3:31)
A4. “Iris” (2:49)
A5. “Wail” (2:50)
A6. “Clumsy” (3:30)
B1. “History Never Repeats” (2:57)
B2. “Walking Through the Ruins” (4:07)
B3. “Ships” (3:00)
B4. “Ghost Girl” (4:25)
B5. “Albert of India” (4:04)

Tim Finn — vocals
Neil Finn — guitar, vocals
Eddie Rayner — keyboards
Noel Crombie — percussion
Malcolm Green — drums
Nigel Griggs — bass guitar

Dave Tickle — producer, engineer

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