Split Enz

Split Enz was a New Zealander art-rock band from Auckland, formed in late 1972 and active through several iterations over a 12-year period. In 1973, the band released a pair of singles on Vertigo and EMI, followed by nine albums on Mushroom between 1975 and 1984.

Their first album, Mental Notes, includes the popular early showpieces “Stranger than Fiction” and “Under the Wheel,” both from the frontal team of singer Tim Finn and guitarist Phil Judd. In 1976, they remade the album with select new cuts as Second Thoughts, produced by Phil Manzanera. Their live act consisted of mime gestures, cone hairdos, harlequin outfits, and kabuki makeup.

In 1977, a revised lineup of Split Enz issued Dizrythmia, featuring the singles “Bold as Brass,” “My Mistake,” and the live favorites “Charlie” and “Jamboree.” While the band were between contracts, they cut numerous demos during 1978, some of them re-cut for 1979’s Frenzy, including the popular ballad “Stuff and Nonsense” and “Carried Away,” the songwriting debut of Tim’s younger brother, Neil Finn.

Split Enz scored their global breakthrough in 1980 with Neil’s “I Got You,” included on True Colours with Tim’s ballad “I Hope I Never.” The following Corroboree (Waiata outside Oceania) produced the hits “One Step Ahead” and “History Never Repeats,” both staples of the fledgling US cable music network MTV. Their 1982 release, Time and Tide, contains “Six Months In a Leaky Boat,” about the early English settlers of New Zealand.

In 1983, as Tim eyed a solo career, Split Enz scored with the Neil ballad “Message to My Girl,” included on Conflicting Emotions. Tim left later that year, leaving Neil to helm 1984’s See Ya ‘Round. That December, Tim returned for a farewell tour. Neil proceeded with a new band, Crowded House.

Members: Tim Finn (vocals, keyboards, 1977-83, 1984), Phil Judd (vocals, guitar, 1972-77, 1978), Mike Chunn (bass, 1972-77), Miles Golding (violin, 1972-73), Michael Howard (flute, 1972-73), Wally Wilkinson (guitar, 1973-75), Rob Gillies (saxophone, 1973-74, 1975-77), Geoff Chunn (drums, 1973-74), Eddie Rayner (keyboards, 1974-84), Noel Crombie (percussion, drums, 1974-84), Paul Crowther (drums, 1974-76), Malcolm Green (drums, 1976-81), Neil Finn (vocals, guitar, 1977-84), Nigel Griggs (bass, 1977-84), Paul Hester (drums, 1983-84)


Background

In the fall of 1972, University of Auckland friends Brian Tim Finn and Phil Judd, who both sang and respectively played piano and guitar, decided to form a band. With a shared affinity for English music-hall/pop-rock (The Move, The Kinks), surrealist art, and Mervyn Peake novels, the pair moved into Room 129 in the boarding house Malmsbury Villa and began writing songs. They assembled Split Ends with classical violinist Miles Golding, flautist Mike Howard, and bassist Jonathan Mike Chunn, a longtime friend of Finn.


1973

In April 1973, Split Ends released their first single, “For You” (b/w “Split Ends”) on the New Zealand branch of Vertigo. They toured as an opening act for John Mayall. They hired drummer Div Vercoe but soon dismissed him over personality differences.

For You” (3:50) Split Ends harmonize about their childhood. They recount early theater parts (“blueboys on the stage, yes he’s quite the rage… his parents loved his blue eyes”) and darker moments (“my parents beat me cos I laughed… they kicked your eyes in at four when they shut the door”) and early sparks of the song-and-dance muse (“the cold winds blew while you watched Fred Astaire”).

Split Enz” (1:49) Tim and Phil write letters to their friends “telling them all about Split Ends” as “flowers hit the floor” and the members split their earnings (“four of one, twenty of another”). They share snapshots of the road life (“coffee beans and smoke machines… the Sunday treat where rigamortis meat”).

Mike Chunn’s brother Geoff joined as their first proper drummer. Soon after, Miles Golding departed to the U.K. to further his classical career and Howard was dropped from the lineup. In a move away from the folk-pop style of their first single, the band enlisted guitarist Wally Wilkinson.

Later that year, Split Ends made their first TVNZ appearance as contestants on the talent program New Faces, where they mimed to two new Judd originals: “129” (about their boarding room) and “Home Sweet Home.” The former appeared as the b-side to their second single, “The Sweet Talkin’ Spoon Song,” released on EMI NZ in November 1973. Three other recordings from this period — “No Bother to Me,” “Malmsbury Villa,” and “Spellbound” — were used during a 30-minute miming segment on TVNZ. They expanded to a six-piece with saxophonist Rob Gillies.

The Sweet Talkin’ Spoon Song” (3:24) Tim portrays a 1920s street sweeper who imagines he’s married to a silent film star and pretend-greets her after each workday (“How’s your day been my love… Hope you’ve been good while I’ve been away”). He insists that she’d “be amazed” at all the people he meets (“Saying hello to people all day, Wonder why they turn away”). Each day ends with the following routine:

When I go to bed at night
I see your face by pale moonlight
Stuck on me wall, it’s a crying shame
I wish like hell I knew your name

129” (2:49) Tim profiles thespian insecurity: the theater actor who’s “hiding in the wings forever” and when he takes the stage “the whole thing reeks of cheap striptease” as “the matinee idylls… fall to their knees.” Tim reckons “there’s nothing more dull than a curtain call” and notes the blue face of a rose-cheeked Romeo. He further observes that “it’s not all bouquets and white crayons” and that audiences laugh when the actors look down. In a mock director’s voice, he offers Romeo the part of a chorus boy in a singalong tragedy.


1974

During 1974, Split Ends became a popular draw on the North Island. Artist Noel Crombie, a longtime friend of Judd, designed costumes and stage sets for the band. In February, they drafted Space Waltz keyboardist Eddie Rayner, who added a symphonic element to the band’s sound. Drummer Paul Emlyn Crowther replaced Geoff Chunn.

Malmsbury Villa” (2:49) Tim jokes about homonym wordplay between him and Phil at their Malmsbury Villa flat on the slopes of 17 Kohimarama Road in Aukland. “May I look into your head sir, I see you wish you were dead sir, dead certain of what you know… Now I see what you mean sir, you’re mean sir, so mean sir, so meanwhile… it’s a real little thriller here at Malmsbury Villa.”

Spellbound” (4:35) Tim sings the original 1974 version of this song about the effects of magic and what it means between partners who make it a reality; possibly a reference to the Finn–Judd working partnership.

Lovey Dovey” (3:23) about the ramshackle existence of an abandoned simpleton.

In April–May 1974, Split Ends partook in a series of theater concerts dubbed “Buck-a-Head” ($1 entry per-head). This allowed them to add theatrical routines to select numbers. At one show, Rayner’s aunt tap danced during a break in one song. To replicate the sound of tap dancing at other shows, Crombie performed a spoon solo and edged himself in as a full band member. Gillies departed later that year.


1975

In early 1975, Split Ends set off for Australia. As an ode to their national identity, they respelled their last name “Enz.” Their third single, “No Bother To Me” (b/w “Home Sweet Home”), was issued that March on NZ small-press White Cloud.

No Bother To Me” (3:11) Tim portrays a barefoot “hungry traveller” who eats with his hands. He has children and “long lost love” and says that he “was sane” but that now his “head’s in pain.” It turns out that he’s an asylum escapee:

They won’t catch me if I can help it
Just hold me down if I have a fit

Home Sweet Home” (3:43) Phil talks of Martin, a character of “few words… a bundle of nerves” who pulls sneak-up pranks to spook people. He “tries to use his eyes in every way” because he’s deaf. At a children’s winter talent event, Martin steals the show with a laugh-inducing dance (the highland fling) in Campbell’s tartan.

Split Enz toured the Australian pub circuit and gained a cult following with their elaborate numbers and colorful attire. At one of these shows, they were spotted by Melbourne music mogul Michael Gudinski, who signed them to his upstart label Mushroom Records, which had just scored big with local costumed rockers Skyhooks.


Mental Notes

Split Enz released their debut album, Mental Notes, on July 31, 1975, on Mushroom (Aus) and White Cloud (NZ). It features seven Judd–Finn numbers and three Judd solo compositions. Stylistically, the songs range from symphonic-rock (“Under the Wheel,” “Stranger Than Fiction”) and cabaret epics (“Walking Down a Road”) to music hall (“Maybe”), folk (“Titus”), and off-kilter pop (“So Long for Now”). Finn sings lead on everything apart from “Under the Wheel,” “Titus,” “Spellbound,” and the outro miniature “Mental Notes,” which feature Judd in a reedy, demented tone that he abandoned on subsequent recordings.

Walking Down a Road” (5:26) Tim walks down a road “hedged with roses” where “time stands still forever” and he “dr[inks] the beauty” as the hours pass and an old man laughs. He sometimes has deep thoughts that “really don’t amount to much” amid the drawn shades and paper-strewn lawn of the child-free community. A fellow resident demands more of his company. He wonders off and finds “a golden sign; that magic place of great renown.” He concludes that things “don’t make any sense when there’s only time to kill.” (This possibly takes place in a retirement community.)

Under the Wheel” (7:50) Phil addresses a onetime child prodigy (“they said you were bright, had stars in your eyes… had all the ideas in your head”). Despite his talent, the path didn’t suit the boy (“under the wheel for all those years”) and now that he’s true to himself, others “stand back and shout ‘Go on you creep, go on get out!'” Phil screams “It’s not fair!!” — a possible expression of the dejected young man (for not being accepted as his true self) or the scornful public (who envy the talent that he didn’t value). The protagonist ends “in the dark waters of the stream” where he contemplates “death, glorious death… just another bed to sleep… another appointment to keep.” Phil based this song on the character Hans Giebenrath in the 1906 novel Beneath the Wheel by German–Swiss author Hermann Hesse.

Amy (Darling)” (5:18) Phil’s dedication to his newborn daughter Amy Judd. Tim relay’s Phil’s sentiments about “the smile on her face… her sweet embrace” — the “serpentine… naughty girl” with flowers that “grow wild in her garden.”

So Long for Now” (3:19) Tim tries to excuse himself from the “bright young men” that surround him “looking for the future” — hanging by his words (“you’re the reason for everything I say”) — as he stands “on the deep end in this land of gods end.”

Stranger Than Fiction” (6:58) Phil took inspiration from the 1950 Mervyn Peake novel Gormenghast for the opening soliloquy:

Stranger than fiction
Larger than life
Full of shades & echoes
It’s the story of my life

Tim portrays the son in a “picture book” story of an absent father whose wife has “another one on the way.” Most nights, “through the coloured walls,” she screams “please don’t leave me alone.” Meanwhile, her hippyman friend plays tarot cards, rambles meaningless words, and “singing to the birds” by the river. Tim recalls a mystic who preaches stoicism (“be careful of what you say”) and talks to himself with avowed independence but who, like the boy’s mother, screams “please don’t leave me alone.”

Time for a Change” (3:46) Tim addresses a subject who acts lke “a blind man who’s crying… ’bout all the virgins that are dying.” Tim perceives these thoughts as the delusions (“habitual dreams”) of an insomiac (“seems you need more sleep”). He reckons that it’s time for a change but concludes that this person is short-sighted (“like a parrot in a flaming tree”), uncoordinated (“like a fat boy dancing Gershwin’s blues”), and lethargic (“you’d rather sit at home and watch the news”).

Maybe” (2:59) Phil portrays a lowly bumpkin who leans on distant relatives (“making the way for you and your dear ‘ol family tree”). Tim pipes in (“like a stormy sky, it’s a sad song”) and sings of “raising finance” for the day he meets his future love. They harmonize on the chorus, which suggests a gender-reversed Cinderella fantasy: “Maybe, she’ll come along, knock me right off me feet.” Tim later admits that “hoping is not enough to live upon.” 

Titus” (3:02) is named after the young central character in Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy. Phil sings the first verse, where Titus find himself “in silver dreams talking to pawns and queens” but senses deception and abandonment. Tim songs the second verse, where Titus sees himself “in checkered lands [as] the knight in command” before the bishop scolds him. Titus comes to the same uncertain conclusion (“please don’t tell me I’m losing my way, you promised me everything now, didn’t you babe?”).

Spellbound” (5:00) Phil sings this version of the 1974 song, which suggests that there’s little else to see or know when you’re enthralled by magic (spellbound). He concurs that “it’s hard to believe but it’s true” but he couldn’t have made magic without a likeminded partner.

Mental Notes” (0:34)

Sessions took place in May–June 1975 at Festival Studios with producer David Russell, the onetime guitarist of Christchurch beatsters Ray Columbus & The Invaders. The engineer on Mental Notes, Richard Batchens, also worked on titles by Blackfeather, Cleves, Jeff St. John, Lobby Loyde, Madder Lake, Tymepiece, and recent albums by Sherbet and Richard Clapton. Russell handled their affairs till that fall when they hired Skyhooks tour manager John “Hoppy” Hopkins.

Mental Notes is housed in a gatefold cover painted by Judd. It shows the band clad in pastel suits and ties in a surrealist setting of random characters at a poolside (front) where a mountainous background forms out of thin air. The back shows a roofless, flooded room with full-flesh characters (a butler, a baby) among faded, shaded figures and vanishing corridors. The painting was dropped and cracked before the cover went to press. The inner-fold has monochrome medium shots of the seven members, each with startled expressions. The photographer, Graeme Webber, also earned visual credits on albums by Dragon, Mackenzie Theory (Bon Voyage), and Sherbet (Photoplay).

Mushroom lifted “Maybe” as a single (b/w “Titus”). The song has two unofficial promo clips: one with Split Enz clustered in a mock-beach setting and another with them wandering through a mannequin room in clown tuxedos. A clip for “Spellbound” shows them lined up in b&w patterned suits as Judd mimes the lyrics.

Mental Notes reached No. 7 on the New Zealand Music Chart and No. 35 on the Australian Kent Music Report. Split Enz promoted the album with shows in Melbourne and Sydney, where they opened for Roxy Music at the Hordern Pavilion. Their act impressed Roxy guitarist Phil Manzanera, who would use his connections to set them up in the UK.


“Nightmare Stampede”

In November 1975, Split Enz fired Wilkinson and welcomed back Gillies, who played the opening notes on their new showpiece, “Nightmare Stampede,” a sixteen-minute epic with symphonic Mellotron verses, folksy plucked-guitar bridges, and barroom fantasy interludes.

On December 30, they performed with burlesque dancers at the penultimate Reefer Cabaret, held at Ormond Hall, Prahran, with sets by Ayers Rock and Renée Geyer (ex-Sun). Three Enz numbers — “Amy (Darling),” “Time for a Change,” and the yet-unreleased “Lovey Dovey” — appear on the 1976 live document A-Reefer-Derci!, released as a double-album on Mushroom.


1976

Split Enz flew to Perth, where they opened for Frank Zappa (1/28/76) and Santana (2/10/76). They made a brief return to Auckland for the Enz of the Earth tour, where they donned a new set of Crombie outfits dubbed “The Harlequins,” which included a white suit with criss-cross colored stripes (Gillies), a green jacket with a yellow zigzag breast (Finn), and a lilac suit with alternating pink–black checks (Crombie). Their opening act was the unsigned After Hours, led by Tim’s kid brother Neil Finn (17), who played guitar, mandolin, and piano during his well-received set.


“Late Last Night”

In March 1976, Split Enz released their second Australian single: Judd’s “Late Last Night,” a wayward Hawaiian ditty with slide mandolin. The verses roam freely through odd, open chords as Finn sings from the point of view of Lyle, a man who wakes from a hangover trying to piece together the details of a one-night stand. The only recurring motif is the chorus: an abrupt, jerky sequence of arpeggiated Wurlitzer. The b-side is the Reefer performance of “Time for a Change.”

For “Late Last Night,” Split Enz made their first proper video. It’s set in a tropical bar where Finn — now sporting a cone hairdo with shaved undersides — mimes the lyrics and walks about with furrowed, jerky gestures while Chunn sits inebriated at a nearby table. Crombie acts as the bartender while Judd plays acoustic guitar on a bar stool. The remaining members mime on a nearby stage.

In April, Split Enz departed for London, England, where they settled on Kings Road near World’s End. Members of the odd-looking band soon took note of another group of outlandish individuals, later identified as members of The Sex Pistols, whose manager, Malcolm McLaren, ran a nearby S&M boutique emblazoned with a big purple sign that read “SEX.”

Manzanera whisked Split Enz to Basing St. Studios, where they rerecorded songs from Mental Notes for their prospective debut in the Northern Hemisphere. Negotiations with his label, Island, collapsed after a label executive watched the band’s video clips and balked at their oddball manner. As recordings wrapped, Manzanera pitched the album to Chrysalis. On May 17, Split Enz auditioned before label reps at Gaumont Hall, Southampton, as the opening act for Gentle Giant, who befriended the Kiwis and helped them clinch the deal.


Second Thoughts

Split Enz released their sophomore album, Second Thoughts, in Oceania in August 1976 on Mushroom Records. The title acknowledges the fact that this is their second album half-comprised of rerecorded songs from the first, hence “second thoughts.”

The album contains four Mental Notes remakes (“Walking Down a Road,” “Titus,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Time for a Change”), plus rerecorded versions of “Late Last Night” and “129” (re-titled “Matinee Idyll”) and three songs new to vinyl: “Lovey Dovey,” “The Woman Who Loves You” (both Judd–Finn numbers studio-tested earlier with Wilkinson), and Judd’s “Sweet Dreams.” Finn sings everything apart from “Titus” and “Sweet Dreams,” which both feature Judd in a newly refined vocal style.

Late Last Night” (4:03) Tim trades smiles with a woman at a bar and introduces himself as “Lyle.” They share a “heart to heart” and a “tender goodbye.” On a subsequent tequila date, she takes offense at the things he says. He later has a dream where she leads his “trembling hands… under the velvet sky” and they play Jack and Jill. When he awakes, he deems her aloofness as “99% proof… an omen” to “live for the moment” (and not feel nervous or awkward).

Lovey Dovey” (3:06) Tim portrays a lonely simpleton whose “house is sliding into the sea,” whose “trees are all turning brown,” and whose “bed is sliding to one side” since his love’s departure. His flea-ridden clothes and other strange animal behavior (“the chickens aren’t laying eggs no more… the rats are crawlin’ up me back… the flies are swarming in like bees”) amplify her absence.

Sweet Dreams” (5:04) Phil addresses a shrewd, cunning woman of “Matovani, Martini and money” whose etiquette and “finger snap rhythm” made him “weak in the knees” but left him shafted (“I only got as far as the back seat of my car”) and “clutching at straws.” He alludes to a power imbalance (“rich man or poor, duchess or whore”) and admits defeat (“ten to one I lose, drop your lovers noose and swing me”). As “emotions are aired like carpets out to dry,” he ponders the “romantic theories of the pixies and fairies” and concludes that his instincts are “seldom wrong but never correct.”

The Woman Who Loves You” (6:50) Tim portrays a 95-year-old widower who requests a warm graveside from someone who “shot through” (died). He states his feelings (“the woman who loves you, is the woman that you need, need to hold”) to his deceased wife and adds that “without her charm, arm in arm, lover’s lane would be just a memory.” The “arm and arm” part is literal: he exhumes her remains (“see how she wobbles from side to side… my lovely bride”) and hallucinates (“meet me wife, she’s true to life”). Though “she’s dead to the world,”  they “danced and… she glanced.”

During the April–May sessions, Split Enz reconnected with early member Miles Golding, who now played violin for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He dropped into Basing St. and played on “Stranger than Fiction” and “Matinee Idyll,” which also features cellist Ian Sharp. Judd prepared a song called “Second Thoughts” that featured a mandolin in an alternate tuning, but this went unrecorded.

Second Thoughts was engineered by Rhett Davies, whose prior credits include albums by Free (Heartbreaker), Genesis (Selling England by the Pound), Hunter Muskett, Jess Roden, Robert Palmer, Silverhead, Stealers Wheel (Ferguslie Park), Trapeze, and Manzanera’s erstwhile Roxy bandmates Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno (Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy). The prior year, Davies worked with Manzanera on the latter’s solo debut (Diamond Head) and the singular album by his regrouped jazz-rock unit Quiet Sun (Mainstream).

This was Manzanera’s second non-Roxy production after Fear, the 1974 Island release by John Cale. The assistant engineer on Second Thoughts, Guy Bidmead, also worked on 1975–77 albums by Automatic Man (self-titled), Bob Marley, Camel (Moonmadness), Crawler (self-titled), Eno (Another Green World), and Strife. Finn and Rayner returned the favor by performing vocals and piano (respectively) on “That Falling Feeling,” the closing track on Mananera’s 1977 release Listen Now, which also features Tim on “Flight 19″ alongside Eno and Godley & Creme, who add their patented Gizmo effects.

Second Thoughts is housed in a single sleeve with a front-cover photograph by Jon Prew. It shows Split Enz looking bewildered in their harlequin suits. Judd drew lines over his now-shaven head. The back cover features monochrome shots of each member in their street wear (mostly vintage 1930s attire) and a studio shot of Manzanera. Prew’s photography also appears on 1976/77 albums by The Babys, Burlesque, Racing Cars (Weekend Rendezvous), and Phillip Goodhand-Tait.

In the UK, Second Thoughts was confusingly retitled Mental Notes and released in September 1976 on Chrysalis. This version appends the postlude miniature “Mental Notes” to side two. The Chrysalis Mental Notes appropriates the Judd gatefold painting from the 1975 Mushroom Mental Notes with a few changes: Wilkinson’s head is replaced with Gillies and updates are made to the hairdos of Finn (shaved sides) and Judd (shaved bald). The painting is shrunk and split within pink candy stripe borders. The left inner-gate has a different shot from Prew’s harlequin photoshoot with Judd and Chunn looking into the lens. The revised cover layout is credited to Norman Moore, who also designed visuals to current albums by Easy Street (self-titled) and Heatwave (Too Hot to Handle).

Split Enz made video clips for “Lovey Dovey” and “Sweet Dreams.” The former shows them twitching in their pastel suits under flashing lights. In “Sweet Dreams,” they mime in their striped two-tone suits in a garlanded room. Judd’s hairpiece disappears seconds in to reveal his white-powdered dome. Finn and Crombie, clad in full white bodysuits, do parallel kitten walks to the bass line that heralds the song’s free-form middle.

Amid booking problems, Split Enz replaced Crowther with English drummer Malcolm Green, a onetime member of psych-rockers Octopus. He won the audition five-to-two over Dinky Diamond, who drummed for the 1974–75 incarnation of Sparks. Crowther went on to patent the Hotcake, a boost–overdrive guitar pedal reputed for its clear-tone distortion capabilities.

Late 1976: (l-r) Judd, Green, Finn, Chunn, Gillies, Rayner, Crombie

Split Enz appeared on Today, a Thames Television variety program hosted by Bill Grundy, who played snippets of the band’s videos to a bewildered studio audience. When prodded by Grundy, Finn flubbed a prepared quip and Crombie spit a ping pong ball from his mouth. (Months later, Grundy goaded the Sex Pistols into swearing on air: an incident that catapulted the Pistols, and punk, to nationwide infamy.)

Split Enz embarked on a tour with Jack the Lad, an offshoot of Newcastle folksters Lindisfarne. The two groups got on well and did cameos during each other’s sets. Enz members streaked across the stage during Lad’s closing number on the final night at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall.

Mental Notes (aka Second Thoughts) reached the Belgian Top 10. Split Enz returned to Australia in November 1976 for the Courting the Act tour, which saw them don a new set of outrageous costumes dubbed “The Medievals.”


1977


“Another Great Divide”

In January 1977, Split Enz released “Another Great Divide,” a Judd–Finn stopgap single with input by Rayner. This and Judd’s Sparks-like “Sugar and Spice” became staples of their setlist along with two new epics: the Judd–Finn–Rayner composition “Nice to Know” and the group-written whirlwind “Jamboree.”

“Another Great Divide” (3:37) Tim narrates Phil’s romantic entanglement with a “neurotic, psychotic” female who’s “deep frozen” — a “saint at home” but a “devil abroad” who exploits unsuspecting “school boy” types with her “calculated cool.” Consequently, Phil becomes a kept man who divides his time between the band and “some forsaken land” where this woman (who he viewed as a fifty-fifty “good problem” risk) subtracts him from different time slots (filled with other victims) in spite of the rule (multiplication — increased time together). Basically, she divides her life into one plane after another and confines him to one.

That month, Split Enz embarked on their first tour of the United States, where the Chrysalis Mental Notes (aka Second Thoughts) just hit shops. They were greeted by a reception at the LA mayor’s office, followed by a show in San Francisco, where they drew a standing ovation during the final section of “Another Great Divide” and flabbergasted members of local shock-rock stalwarts The Tubes. Enz then played the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood with members of Fleetwood Mac and the cast of Charlie’s Angels in attendance. In Huntington Beach, they served as a midweek opening act for Bay Area brass rockers the Sons of Champlin. As Enz headed East, industry buzz prompted Boz Scaggs to see the band in Dallas.

In the months before the tour, Judd became increasingly anti-social and withdrawn from the band, the media, and audiences. This came to a head in Atlanta, where he walked off stage mid-performance. Finn confronted Judd after the show and punches flew before Rayner intervened. Judd announced his intention to leave after the tour, which culminated with shows in Washington DC, Boston, and a well-received set at The Bottom Line in New York City.


Judd Quits, Neil Finn Joins

After the US tour, Judd retreated to a house in Surrey, England, while Finn and Rayner went to Baltimore to write songs at Tim’s uncle’s house.

When Finn and Rayner regrouped with the others in London, Eddie suggested they hire his ex-bandmate from Space Waltz, guitarist–singer Alastair Riddell, as Judd’s replacement. They contacted Riddell, who thought it over and called back two days later to decline the invitation. Chunn then referenced a young, emerging talent that Finn should find suitable, which confused Tim until he was told pointedly that the youth in question was his younger brother, Neil Finn. Within days, Neil flew to England and joined Split Enz.

As rehearsals commenced, Chunn felt the need to return home. Green suggested his ex-bandmate from Octopus, bassist Nigel Griggs, who recently played in the French rock band Il Barritz, which cut a 1975 self-titled album on Atlantic. Nigel first emerged with his brother Paul Griggs in The Cortinas, which cut the 1968 pop-psych classic “Phoebes Flower Shop.” They morphed into Octopus (with Green) and issued the 1971 album Restless Night on Penny Farthing. After Octopus, Nigel joined an unrecorded late-stage lineup of Khan with Steve Hillage and Egg keyboardist Dave Stewart.

Griggs, who’d never seen or heard Split Enz when he accepted the gig, was shocked when he arrived for his first rehearsal and Crombie handed him a costume. Chunn returned to New Zealand and formed Citizen Band with his brother Geoff and Space Waltz alumni. They released two rock albums: Citizen Band (1978, Mandrill) and Just Drove Thru Town (1979, CBS NZ). Chunn later became a music reporter.


Dizrythmia

Split Enz released their third album, Dizrythmia, in September 1977 on Mushroom (Oceania) and Chrysalis (Northern Hemisphere). It features three established live favorites from Judd’s final weeks in the band (“Sugar and Spice,” “Nice to Know,” “Jamboree”) and three new songs (“Without a Doubt,” “Crosswords,” “Charlie”) by Tim Finn, who co-wrote another two (“My Mistake,” “Parrot Fashion Love”) with Rayner. The opening track, Finn’s “Bold as Brass,” is a rare co-writing credit for Gillies.

The album’s title refers to circadian dysrhythmia, commonly referred to as “jet lag,” a familiar feeling to Enz members after multiple flights between England and the antipodes.

Bold as Brass” (3:31) Tim tells the listener not to sit and ramble, but to stand tall and sley an audience with a tune. He opens with a call to action (“make a move, get off your spine, shake your leg, tow the line”) and relays doctor’s orders (“Mum’s the word” — English slang for “keep quiet”) and tells the subject to stand firm (“standing fast as bold as brass, holding on until the last”) and “call a tune” — a song that “strikes a chord in everyone” — and “play it all day long.”

My Mistake” (3:02) Tim reflects on a recent mistake: he fell in love again to “raise a laugh again” when he really needed a friend to make him “stop and think again.” As he reflects on the “sweet memories,” he resolves not to stay “lost in history… lost for love” and acknowledges “the call to arms is loud and clear” with the bon mot “tally ho, your health my dear” (tally ho is an 18th-century huntsman’s sighting cry).

Parrot Fashion Love” (3:53) Tim sits on a veranda (open-walled roof porch) at 5 pm with Miranda, an old girlfriend. They’ve spent their passion; their love is “after a fashion” (unsatisfactory) but they’re broke and habit-prone (“likes ritual”), so every night (at 9 pm) they relocate to her “dreamy feather-bed” and engage in tête-à-tête (private conversation) while she gives “lessons in parrot fashion love” (parroted artificial affection). Neither strives for better because they’re both disabled drunks who work under the table and eat crumbs “in the doldrums” (a state of decay). He feeds her like a bird (“Polly want a cracker”) but warns “same old monotone, you’re gonna wind up on your own.”

Sugar and Spice” (3:52) Tim voices Phil’s double entendres at a tense dinner date, where he asks his woman “Won’t you never stop your complaining?” and invites her to “make a meal out of me.” He analogizes sexual foreplay with dining (“I’ll be the knife if you’ll be the fork”) and uses food symbolism for body parts (“I’ll try the rump steak if you’ll try the pork”). He also eyes “the waitress in her sexy little white dress,” which indicates that if his date doesn’t play, he’ll turn his sights elesewhere.

Without a Doubt” (6:00) Tim reflects on life in a time of solitude. He prefers his alone time because there’s “no one to betray.” He covets life as “a castaway who finds a friendly shore” and argues that “when you have a friend, then you have yourself a foe.” In reference to his fallout with Phil Judd, he remarks “my right to defend, yours to scatter in one blow” and admits “a few fuses have blown.”

Tim also alludes to romance (“love makes my flesh creep… gets me hot and bothered… just a reward I can’t reap”) and writer’s block (“waiting for a breath of inspiration”). He comments on his current career progress (“working for precious little; playing the second fiddle”) and how he’s lived “on broken promises [and] guarantees” but seeks “home truths, an offer I can’t refuse.” Despite his current place (“back where I started”), he sees everything as a learning process and remains determined “without a doubt.”

Crosswords” (3:25) Tim analogizes duplicity in a fighting friendship where two people make rude remarks (crosswords) and never move or stand in sync (“I’m down you’re across… I turn while you toss”). Their crosswords fuel animosity (“get an earful, leave you tearful, careful who you cross”) and invoke Sun Tzu’s law (“we get close when we get angry, crosswords still the boss”). On the outro, he ad libs “smart words won’t tease me… tax man… no we can’t agree, love that third degree.”

Charlie” (5:31) Tim opens with “rise and shine” to Charlie (a then-common female name in New Zealand). He asks her to pour the tea while he draws the binds, then takes notice of her “sunlight halo” and how it makes her “look wonderful… pale and deathly still.” He then exclaims “For heaven’s sake, wake up, Charlie.” In a somber tone, he recalls the “full moon last night,” when he “was full of bravado; dead drunk, dead sure one of us had to go” and how he raised his hand in anger. He explains that he was “eaten up with jealousy” with “bones to pick and rumours to feed” (possibly over infidelity) and shrugs “love’s a big mistake.” He begs for mercy, even pity, and cries “Forgive me, speak to me, Charlie!” It becomes apparent that he killed this woman in a fit of rage. Now, as he wakes to a new day and recounts the facts, he’s in denial.

Nice to Know” (4:24) Tim wants to know the proper strategy for his goals, so he’s “taking the plunge” (licking wounds, stealing nerves, breaking wishbones, and “sweating [his] way up those blue hills.”) He shoots from the hip (“speaking out of turn”) and feels impatient (“full of a bittersweet anger, sick of meaningful dialogue”), but despite past uppity behavior (“playing the high and mighty”), he’s now “trying to act his age” while “making up for lost time.”

He drops Kiwi references with “blue hills” (a gravel trail in Nelson, NZ) and the line “I feel invincible behind that silver fern” (a medium-sized tree fern endemic to New Zealand).

Jamboree” (6:43) Tim invites a big top queue to “roll up” to the 40th annual reunion of the “troupers jamboree.” He hears “distant voices calling” with “memories of the heydays.” The event marks a vigil for some of the old characters whose “stories come out thick and fast, long, short and tall,” as Tim MC’s in the middle-eight:

There’s Frank do Preze on the flying trapeze
Finally come down to earth
Good ol’ Chris the contortionist, is bent if not worse
Dear ol’ Merle the strip-tease girl, do anything for kicks
And the ol’ magician has disappeared, still up to his old tricks
Well the gag man’s been gagged
And the straight man’s gone straight
The mime artiste too clever for words
And the MC’s still late

Sessions took place during June–July 1977 at AIR Studios, London. Split Enz co-produced Dizrythmia with Geoff Emerick, a veteran engineer on classic ’60s albums by The Beatles (the “white” album), The Zombies (Odessey and Oracle), Tomorrow (self-titled), Wallace Collection, and Koobas. In recent years, he worked on lavish recordings by Cockney Rebel (The Psychomodo), Nektar (Recycled), Triumvirat (Spartacus), Jeff Beck (Wired), and Gino Vannelli (The Gist of the Gemini).

Months earlier, Emerick served as the mixing engineer for Supertramp on their fifth album, Even In the Quietest Moments, which has several songs (“Lover Boy,” “From Now On,” “Fool’s Overture”) with swelling, spacious passages and sonic traits that are echoed in the slow Dizrythmia numbers (“Nice to Know,” “Without a Doubt,” “Charlie”).

Dizrythmia lists three assistant engineers: Colin Fairley, Nigel Walker, and Peter Henderson. Fairley, a former drummer (Beggars Opera, String Driven Thing), later worked on albums by Japan (Gentlemen Take Polaroids) and Judie Tzuke (Welcome to the Cruise). Walker worked on 1976/77 albums by Be-Bop Deluxe, Frankie Miller, John G. Perry, and Robin Trower. Henderson assisted Emerick on Wired and Quietest Moments and also worked on albums by Baker Gurvitz Army and Camel (Mirage).

Crombie conceived the visual layouts on Dizrythmia. The front cover shows each member seated before a reflective tabletop. Crombie (center) sports a gravity-defying hairdo that would spread in new wave and post-punk circles in the coming years. Tim Finn (upper left) wears a torn green suit, designed by Noel in ode to punk style. Rayner (upper right) dons a unique single-sleeve blazer with a lapel that crosses under his left arm. A bespectacled Neil Finn appears directly below his brother in a blue blazer and yellow tie. The back cover (almost used on front) shows Enz spread about at odd angles along the sides and gaps of a color-lighted metal sculpture. Original copies feature a lyric insert with xeroxed pics of each member.

The photographs were taken by Han-Chew Tham, who also captured images for 1977/78 albums by Klaus Schulze, The Moirs, and Chris Rea (Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?). Also credited on Dizrythmia is art director Peter Wagg, who did subsequent album visuals for Generation X (self-titled), Jethro Tull (A), Leo Sayer (Living in a Fantasy), and Rory Gallagher.

“My Mistake” was lifted as the first single, backed with “Crosswords.” In New Zealand, it reached No. 15 on the Recorded Music NZ chart. Chrysalis issued a 12″ version (UK only) in a monochrome sleeve with unique photos from Tham’s shoot. In the “My Mistake” video, Tim mimes as a Vaudevillian Master of Ceremonies. The moment he tips his hat, it vanishes. He circles the band as they gradually come into view, each seated on a cramped stage making jerky, wind-up-toy motions with their instruments. Green wears a white blazer with red polka dots; Neil dons a red blazer with white spots. On the outro, Gillies’ clarinet and Rayner’s barrel-house piano vanish as the room teeters.

Mushroom picked “Bold as Brass” as a second single (b/w “Sugar and Spice”). In the Netherlands, Chrysalis issued the single in a bright red variation of the “My Mistake” 12″ sleeve. The “Bold as Brass” video shows a suited five-man Enz mime with jittery motions into a high-angled lens. During the instrumental break, they cut to a psych-lighted, multi-colored, patterned set of outfits. The two unoccupied members, Crombie and Gillies, slow dance with cardboard cutout partners.

Dizrythmia reached No. 3 on the New Zealand Albums chart and No. 18 on Australia’s Kent Music Report. Split Enz promoted the album across the UK where select fans, dubbed “Frenz of the Enz,” adopted the band’s look.

Split Enz did an hour-long showcase at the Hippodrome, London, for the BB2 concert program Sight and Sound (aired 10/17/77). They performed three numbers from the recent album (“Bold as Brass,” “My Mistake,” “Charlie”), one from Second Thoughts (“The Woman Who Loves You”), and two unrecorded songs: “True Colours,” a loose R&B jam where Noel takes the mid-section with Latin percussive fills, manic ad libs, and random keyboard attacks; and “Best Friend,” a galloping pep-tune that closes the set. The group, clad in two-tone tuxedos, are flanked throughout by the flashing tints of lighting director Raewyn Turner, a mainstay of their entourage.

Judd reemerged in the audience at several shows and expressed an interest in rejoining Split Enz, which he now deemed the best vehicle for his stockpile of new originals. Tim and Rayner both agreed along with Hopkins, who dismissed Gillies to retain the seven-member limit. Gillies went into television production (Xena: Warrior Princess) and later produced a single by his daughter, singer Merenia.


1978

Split Enz rehearsed some of Judd’s new songs (“So This Is Love,” “Slow Motion,” “Breakup-Breakdown,” “No Alibi”) but only a few (“Burgen,” “I’m So Up,” “Play It Strange”) worked in their set. They embarked on a February–March UK tour that culminated with a sold-out show at London’s Roundhouse. Frenz of the Enz appeared each night and Crombie’s hairstyle was often mimicked by attendees.

Offstage, the Judd–Finn dynamic didn’t reignite, in part because Tim — now romantically involved with English dancer Liz Malam — no longer jibed with the “boy’s club” hi-jinks of Phil, who took Neil as his new cohort. That spring, Split Enz found themselves at loose ends when they broke from their management and severed ties with Chrysalis. When their dole benefits ended, Judd left Enz for the final time.

Judd flew back to New Zealand and joined Auckland punks the Suburban Reptiles in time for their second single, “Saturday Night Stay at Home,” written by drummer Buster Stiggs (aka Mark Hough, a longtime Judd acolyte). Judd and Hough soon formed The Swingers, which cut the 1980 Chunn-produced single “One Good Reason” on Ripper Records, a new wave indie co-owned by Mike. The Swingers then signed to Mushroom for the 1981 album Practical Jokers, which spawned the international hit “Counting the Beat,” a No. 1 on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

Meanwhile, Split Enz secured a grant from the New Zealand Arts Council as they reassessed their business. Despite (or because of) the dire circumstances, the Finn brothers had a songwriting surge. New songs poured from Tim (“Home Comforts,” “Semi-Detached,” “Message Boy,” “Hypnotised,” “Hollow Victory”) and Neil (“Carried Away,” “Holy Smoke,” “Late In Rome,” “Evelyn”). Tim co-wrote two songs (“Miss Haps,” “Marooned”) with Rayner, who submitted “Animal Lover.” Griggs emerged as an arranger, going though each tape and deciding which tempo, cadence, key, and idiom worked best for a given song.

That spring, Rayner and the Finn brothers visited Sun Park Studios in Surrey to partake in sessions for K-Scope, the 1978 third solo album by Manzanera. Tim sings lead on three-fifths of side one: the aggressive rocker “Remote Control,” the reggaefied “Cuban Crisis,” and the funk-tinged “Hot Spot.” Rayner plays on the last two and four other tracks (“K-Scope,” “Slow Motion TV,” “Gone Flying,” “Walking Through Heaven’s Door”). The album features most of the Listen Now personnel, including Godley & Creme (concurrent to their pioneering zolo release L) and 801 members Francis Monkman (Curved Air, Sky) and Bill McCormick (Quiet Sun, Matching Mole, Random Hold).


Luton Tapes

In July 1978, Split Enz set up at Quest Studios, a ramshackle facility in Luton, Bedfordshire. The studio’s small size forced Noel to play percussion on the toilet while Eddie, huddled in close proximity with Tim, constantly hit the singer with his elbow. They recorded more than 30 demos in a short time-frame and pitched the tapes to assorted labels, including Virgin, then in the midst of a new wave signing frenzy (Magazine, Penetration, Skids, XTC).

(The Quest demos — reputed for their urgency and vigor — were long touted by insiders and mythologized by fans. In 2007, Rayner re-mixed the surviving tapes and released them as Rootin Tootin Luton Tapes, issued publicly by Rhino Records as a 15-track single CD and privately to the Frenz of the Enz fan club as a 28-track double CD.)

That fall, Split Enz were still unsigned when a fan in Manchester connected them with 18-year-old aspiring producer David Tickle, who booked them free off-hours at Starling Studios, owned by Ringo Starr. They cut two songs: the once-demoed “Next Exit,” a grim yet sprightly piano-thumper; and Tim’s biting new submission “I See Red,” which started as a slow, gruff blues rocker but morphed into a speedy punk song by the time of recording.


“I See Red”

“I See Red” (3:15) Tim spots a recent flame “walking down the street” and flies into a rage (“I see red, I see red, I see red!”). He asks “How can someone wicked walk around free?” and mentions the “precious hours” of their time together before she absconded (“squeezed me out of your life, down the drain like molten toothpaste”). He hints that their affair drained him both emotionally and financially:

Green before you met me
In the pink when you let me love you
I was blue when you let me down
Black and blue

In October, Split Enz filmed a video for “I See Red,” where they writhe frenetically in coordinated outfits (red ties, grey blazers with b&w marks) under flashing red lights. Tim pours a vase of roses at the screen during Eddie’s piano solo, which verges on a free-form jazz run. The song ends abruptly on the final shouts due to a tape cutoff at Starling.

Tickle was eager to cut an album with Enz but Gudinski, now re-involved in the band’s affairs, insisted they pick a “name” producer. In a move that Rayner would later regret, they passed on the chance to work with John Leckie, the soundman on 1978 albums by Be-Bop Deluxe (Drastic Plastic), Magazine (Real Life), and XTC (Go 2). They went with Mallory Earl, who named Jimi Hendrix as an early client. (Earl engineered albums by Frijid Pink, Peter Kaukonen, Norman Connors, Betty Davis, and Ronnie Laws, but not Hendrix.)

Split Enz recorded their fourth studio album in November–December 1978 at the Manor, an Oxford mansion–studio owned by Virgin co-founder Richard Branson. With an unabated flow of new material, only a few Luton songs (“Betty,” “Abu Dhabi,” “Famous People”) were rerecorded here. After sessions wrapped, the group flew to Auckland for Christmas.

Down Under, Mushroom issued “I See Red” as a single, backed with the Luton demos “Message Boy” and “Hermit McDermitt.” In Australia, it reached No. 15 on the Kent Music Report.


1979

Split Enz opened 1979 with a string of New Zealand shows. They were booked for the second Nambassa Festival, a three-day event at Phil and Pat Hulse’s 400-acre farm in Golden Valley. Aussie superstars the Little River Band headlined the festival, which also featured sets by Living Force and Schtung.

The night before their slot, Split Enz’ rehearsal room in nearby Waihi burned to the ground in an apparent robbery–arson. With all their equipment scorched, Neil made a desperate call that yielded multiple donations from other bands.

On January 28, Split Enz took the stage and floored Nambassa’s 20,000 attendees. The event is documented on the 1979 Stetson Records release Festival Music From the 1979 Nambassa Festival, a double-album with three Enz numbers: “Frenzy,” “I See Red,” and “Bold as Brass.”


Frenzy

Split Enz fourth album, Frenzy, appeared on February 19, 1979, on Mushroom (Oceania). The first 10,000 copies feature twelve songs, bookended with the Finn brothers co-writes “Give It a Whirl” and “Mind Over Matter.” Tim wrote seven inclusions: four Luton remakes (“Famous People,” “Hermit McDermitt,” “Betty,” “She Got Body She Got Soul”) and three newer numbers (“Master Plan,” “Stuff and Nonsense,” “The Roughest, Toughest Game in the World”). Eddie’s “Marooned” made the cut, as did two Finn–Rayner co-writes: “Abu Dhabi” and the title-track. Subsequent pressings append “I See Red” at the start of side one.

The album’s title is a portmanteau of their devoted flock (“Frenz” of the Enz) and the adjective “frenzy,” a descriptor for the whirlwind vibe on many tracks.

Give It a Whirl” (3:04) Neil spots an acquaintance at a bustop “by the side of the road” in a bleak state (“long faces and long overcoats”), perhaps due to seasonal conditions (“winter wind rushes and rattles your bones”). Neil sees “no sign of action” in this person’s eyes but reasons “there’s a thrill you’ll never know if you never try.” He reminds this individual of past adventures like “taking a ride on a ferris wheel” and “a bet on a race” when he/she “faced the future with a smile on your face, win or lose.” He encourages the listener to “give it a whirl” because “giving in [is] like kissing goodbye.”

Master Plan” (3:07) Neil (not resigned to be “a robot, passive and programmed”) realizes that “fate will keep you waiting full of doubt and drudgery” and devises a plan (“a proper strategy”) for action.

Famous People” (3:02) Tim decries the artifice of fame and notes that celebrities enjoy little privacy (“no life of their own”) because they constantly field attention (“spend all day on the phone”). He also notes that the artifice translates to money (“figure fame as a loan”) and without it celebrities have “no flesh on the bone.” Furthermore, if the person behind the artifice interferes, his/her name won’t live forever.

Hermit McDermitt” (4:03) Tim portrays McDermitt, a hermit on the outskirts of civilization who wants neither trouble or authority (“I won’t be your criminal, I don’t want your laws”). He’s fled the “city full of promises and citadels so grand” and has no interest in “taxi cabs and cheap kebabs and dingy dancing halls… wedding bells [or] top notch salary.” All he wants is “a cabin in the hills or a cottage by the sea.” His “irregular ways” stem from past ridicule (despite his labors) and treatment as “an afterthought.” McDermitt warns that “living in the wilderness brings out the beast in me” and that if anyone locates his “ivory tower” he’ll “burn it.” 

You won’t see me for dust
There’s no one I trust
A Hermit I must be

Stuff and Nonsense” (4:28) Tim sings to a new love who already senses doubt (“disobey my own decisions, I deserve all your suspicion”). He ensures that he holds no secrets but vows not to make promises that he can’t keep and concludes that what matters is the moment:

And you know that I love you, here and now not forever
I can give you the present, I don’t know ’bout the future
That’s all stuff and nonsense

Tim also shares how he “once lived for the future” and viewed “everyday [as] one day closer” with a “greener on the other side” mindset, but when he met her the “love burned brighter than the stars in my eyes.”

Marooned” (2:32) Tim scrambles for an SOS (“pull up a flag, or light a fire, or send up a flare”) because there “seems there’s no way out of here” for the castaway band. He reads Eddie’s list of ideas (“a schooner, or a punt, or a dug-out canoe; a Sputnik, a biplane… a rusty jalopy”) and says that he’ll “even resort to taking chances in a hot air balloon.”

Frenzy” (2:30) Eddie speaks of a phenomenon “for the young and the old.” It helps “erase the haze” and those “lost in a mental maze.” Though it doesn’t help people socialize, it won’t “instigate a riot.” This “frenzy” he speaks of is pure abandon (“everybody lose control”).

The Roughest, Toughest Game in the World” (3:44) Tim grapples with conflict (“personal faults… all out war”) and notes that “it’ll drive you to drink, and turn into hatred, suicide and fighting duels.”

She Got Body She Got Soul” (2:58) Tim praises a woman who’s pulled him up and led him from ruin.

I’m gonna trust her with my future
I’m gonna keep a tight rein on her heart
She’s one of the few things I feel a part of

He notes what he’s gained in her presence (“I learn a lot when she’s around, she’s got so much to give”) and concludes “If you can say you live and learn, you’re learning how to live.” However, in a lucid moment he states “no time to make careful decisions, she might be an apparition” and admits panics at the thought of anything short for full devotion.

Betty” (4:45) Tim observes a prim, proper working girl “in the bottom half of the world” who attends Friday night dances and attracts potential suitors but “wants the love of days gone old.” Hence, there’s “always something standing in [her] way” of accepting a man.

Abu Dhabi” (4:27) Tim derides Western economic reliance on Mideast oil and its hold on the US millionaire class, whose fancy weddings and frills are often funded through ties to the United Arab Emirates (“trust your leaders, business men, pass the Lira and Yen”).

Mind Over Matter” (2:57) Neil insists that physical and mental anguish (“heartache, backache, toothache and headache, vexation of the spirit”) are surmountable. Though pain is inconvenient, you shouldn’t “let your body betray you with this physical torment.” He advises “people with weak hearts” to “go into training.”

Frenzy was the third album Earl produced after two 1975 titles by Hot Tuna, a Jefferson Airplane spinoff. It remained his last apart from a 1979 Ariola release by British–Canadian proto-punk musician Andrew Matheson (Hollywood Brats, London SS, The Boys). He subsequently engineered albums by Con Funk Shun, Jean Carn, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Juicy, Kleeer, and Kool & The Gang.

Frenzy was engineered by Hugh Padgham and Marlis Duncklau. Padgham was a rising soundman who also worked on 1979 titles by Bliss Band and XTC (Drums and Wires). Duncklau had technical credits on albums by Le Orme (Verità Nascoste) and Vangelis (Spiral). She engineered 1979 albums by Runner and Landscape and sings backing vocals on Snakes and Ladders, the second album by Interview.

Raewyn Turner oil-rendered a plain-clothed photo of Split Enz for the Frenzy cover, which shows them outside a barn on a sheep farm (front) with the animals flocked up close and scattered about in the distance (back).

Mushroom lifted “Give It a Whirl” as a single (b/w “Frenzy”). In the video, Split Enz mime in a blue-lit studio, clad in checkered shirts, grey slacks, and sunglasses.

The original 1979 Frenzy only appeared in Australia and New Zealand. In light of their subsequent success, Split Enz signed to A&M for the Northern Hemisphere, where Frenzy appeared in 1981 with a revised tracklist. The A&M version drops three songs (“Abu Dhabi,” “Famous People,” “The Roughest, Toughest Game in the World”) and adds four tracks from the Luton sessions: “Holy Smoke,” Semi-Detached,” “Carried Away,” and Griggs’ punk miniature “Livin’ It Up.” The Manor versions of three songs (“Hermit McDermitt,” “She Got Body She Got Soul,” “Mind Over Matter”) are replaced by their Luton counterparts. Rayner remixed the remaining Earl-produced tracks.

Holy Smoke” () Neil sings of night fright, “fear of God” and “vandals, murderers and thieves” — possible embodiements of the fears and challenges of an up-and-coming musician:

Feel my heart
The fear of God written in my face
In the dark
Over there by the fireplace
The shadows fall much too close for comfort

Here all night the sun deserts you
Dark skies overhead
Candles lit and measures taken
Brave new worlds we tread

He needs to “get out of this place” (England) because he’s “too young to lose” yet has “been sleeping with one eye open too long.”

Semi-Detached” (5:02) Tim expresses a need for his band to flee the cold weather, “debt collectors, and slap-dash noisy children” of England. He wants a “brimstone baptism” and empathizes with garden cats but finds himself semi-detached from other people (indignant neighbors, etc). He’s got “no illusion, friction or fusion” but predicts Split Enz will “burn like matchsticks,” yet acknowledges that only wonderful people are there when the going gets rough.

Carried Away” (4:31) Neil (“told that it’s silver green”) gets carried away with a woman he’s never met, whose voice sings “that strange melody.”


“Things” | The Beginning of the Enz

In October 1979, Split Enz released a new Neil tune, “Things,” as a standalone a-side. It was co-produced between the band and Tony Cohen, the soundman on mid-’70s albums by Supernaut and ex-Masters Apprentices singer Jim Keays. The b-side, “Semi-Detached,” was misspelled on the label as “Semi Datached.” Two recent Tim compositions, “Two of a Kind” and “Jolted,” went unreleased at the time.

Things” (2:48) Neil, as a second fiddle, is asked to “sing, pass the drinks” and make others happy. He then shouts “what the hell you asking me for” when (according to the “ABC law”) “everything I do I do for you.”

Two of a Kind” (3:41) Tim addresses someone with who he shares “psychic communion.” He doesn’t want to irritate or mind-read this individual, but concludes that “often as not, we agree,” despite their conflicts.

Jolted” (2:35) Tim demands a clean slate for Split Enz as they compete with newer acts on the Oceanic new wave scene.

In the “Things” video, Split Enz mime in a white studio adorned with giant pink sheets of musical notation. Each member sports a unique, colorful, patterned suit: Neil (yellow, red, blue, white blotches), Tim (primary-colored grid over black; bow-tie), Noel (green, red, black rows; yellow trim), Eddie (diagonal pastel stripes; pink tie), Nigel (grey suit with pink–white orbs; pink tie), Malcolm (cow print; red tie).

For their next album, Split Enz reteamed with Tickle, who convened with the band at Armstrong Studios, Melbourne. In the intervening year, he engineered albums by Aviator (self-titled), Blondie (Eat to the Beat), and the debut solo release by ex-Family frontman Roger Chapman.

In the meantime, Mushroom issued The Beginning of the Enz, a collection of material from the band’s early years. It features all four sides of the 1973 New Zealand Vertigo and EMI singles (“For You,” “Split Ends,” “Sweet Talking Spoon Song,” “129”), the unreleased 1974 rarity “Malmsbury Villa,” both sides of the early 1975 White Cloud single (“No Bother to Me,” “Home Sweet Home”), plus early versions of “Lovey Dovey” and “Spellbound.”

The Beginning of the Enz sports an illustrated cover with color-by-number cutouts of four outfits from the Harlequin costumes, each with blank heads (labelled “1 2 3 &”). The back features xeroxed, tinted group photos of the pre-Green lineups, plus liner notes by Neil, who reminisces about the first time he saw Split Ends at Levi’s Saloon in Auckland in December 1972.


1980

On January 21, 1980, Split Enz released “I Got You,” a Neil Finn composition backed with the Rayner instrumental “Double Happy.” With its nervy intro, ambiguous verses, arching chorus, and carnivalesque middle, “I Got You” hit No. 1 in Australia and New Zealand and reached the Top 20 in six Northern markets, including the UK (No. 12) and Canada (No. 13). In the video, a suited Neil mimes in a window-lit dark room as the band appear behind him inside a frame. After a spooky-eyed instrumental sequence, he joins them for the final chorus.


True Colours

Split Enz released their fifth proper studio album, True Colours, on January 29, 1980, on Mushroom (Aus) and Polydor (NZ). It contains both sides of the single and two additional Neil songs: “What’s the Matter With You” and the eerie “Missing Person,” initially tapped as the lead-off single. The closing track, “The Choral Sea,” is a group-credited instrumental with swirling tonal colors over a Moroder-esque space-disco beat.

Tim wrote the remaining tracks, including the frenetic opener “Shark Attack” and the ethereal “Poor Boy,” about a boy who falls for a girl from another planet. Side one concludes with “I Hope I Never,” a minor-key ballad inspired by Tim’s strained friendship and severed working partnership with Phil Judd.

Shark Attack” (2:52) Tim is a “shark fatality” in a “loves got teeth” scenario with a woman who slayed him “in the harbor of [her] smile” and “she chewed [him] up” like a “slaughter in the water.”

I Got You” (3:24) Neil addresses “a pageant” (beauty) whose “everything that [he] imagined,” yet feels uneasy even though he’s “got” her. He secludes himself in her absence and grows paranoid about her separate activities (“You’re always out, it gets on my nerves!”).

What’s the Matter with You” (3:02) Tim awakes to a brighter day “swimming with delight” but his girl looks “down on everything [they] do,” which makes him question their compatibility. His efforts to uplift her get strict:

Gonna keep an eye on you, I’ll be your dictator
So you better buck up or I’ll deal with you later
So beat the drum and let the trumpet blow

He stresses “things have never been better… the weather’s clear [with] Eskimos in summer clothes” and warns “in the heat of the moment you reap what you sow.”

Double Happy” (3:15)

I Wouldn’t Dream of It” (3:14) Tim stresses that he would never dream of “it” in “in the pale moonlight.” He says he doesn’t “come that cheap” and while “he may succumb some day… it hasn’t happened yet.” The second verse indicates that the “it” in question is the spoiled excess of a rock star who uses his money and fame as seduction leverage:

I don’t believe in love by candlelight
I’m not a movie star at St Moritz
And I’m not a Prince in a fairy tale
Looking for the foot that fits
I wouldn’t dream of asking you to stay
I never would presume that far
And I’m not about to leave myself
With all my doors ajar

I Hope I Never” (3:24) Tim addresses a subject he can no longer face (“I fall apart when your around”). Though he acknowledges the pettiness (“it should be possible, I know, to see you without stress”), he can’t overcome the weakness:

My urge to cry I have failed to conceal
Life, it’s no fun when your hunted by the things that you feel

Nobody Takes Me Seriously” (3:32) Tim portrays a “foreman’s tool” who each lunches a lone and feels ridiculed by his co-workers (namely all the secretaries). He deems his love life a “permanent rinse” of girls who get apathetic when he gives them the look. Though he feels he has plenty to say, no one seems to care; he even reckons “if there was a fire they’d just leave me to burn.” However, he’s ready to take a stand (“I don’t want to suffer these conditions no more”).

Missing Person” (3:32) Neil decides on his way home to disappear “in search of bitter treats.” He walks the wrong way to “go astray” and be a “wanted” missing person who wanders highways, slips down alley ways and sleeps in doorways. His visions (“eyes open wide, but all I see is black”) and sense of boundaries (“only safe and sound when silence brings a chill”) suggest a skewed psyche.

Poor Boy” (3:19) Tim sings of an alien lover who speaks to him through “ultra-high frequencies” on a “radio band of gold.” Her “message in the evening sky” makes him feel like an “interplanetary Romeo.” As a poor boy on Earth, however, “there’s too much space” between them to meet face to face.

How Can I Resist Her” (3:26) Tim spots a blonde haired, blue eyed “beauty of nature” who comes on like a “white lie” — a “wicked angel in mortal disguise.” Her beauty has him “trembling at the knees” but fills him with conflicting emotions (“divine delinquent; delicious and perverse”).

The Choral Sea” (4:29)

Sessions took place between June and October 1979 with Tickle, who produced True Colours ahead of Melbourne rockers The Aliens and American singer Ellen Shipley. This marked the engineering debut of Scott Hemmings, who later worked with Mondo Rock, Men at Work, and Kiwi comedy singer Joe Dolce. The album’s title comes from the unrecorded Gillies-era live jam “True Colours (Let’s Rock).”

True Colours reached No. 1 on the Australian Kent Music Report and the Official New Zealand Music Chart. In light of the album’s chart success, Split Enz signed to A&M abroad, where True Colours reached No. 10 in Canada, the band’s biggest market in the Northern Hemisphere.

Crombie designed the cover, which spells the word “ENZ” in gemoetric shapes. The initial run came in four color combinations: yellow–blue, red–green, purple–yellow, and blue–orange. Subsequent pressings also came in lime–pink, purple–orange, and yellow–blue–red. To mark the group’s sales figures in Australia — where “I Got You” became the all-time biggest selling single in July 1980 — Mushroom pressed True Colours with a gold–silver cover. A rare promo version (100 copies) was pressed in black–white. In the US, A&M laser-etched the vinyl with colors and shapes that sparkle as the record spins.

Mushroom issued “I Hope I Never” as the album’s second single, backed with the Luton recordings “Hypnotized” and a then-unreleased “Carried Away.” In the video, a formal-attired Tim Finn croons on a ballroom stage as Ranyer plays a grand piano. He slowly walks past dancers and proceeds through the foyer that leads out to a garden area, where ladies in pink petticoats slow dance with tuxedo-clad gentlemen during the song’s classical midsection.

In the UK, A&M issued singles of “Poor Boy” (b/w a live version of “Missing Person”) and “Nobody Takes Me Seriously” (b/w “The Choral Sea”). On the “Poor Boy” picture sleeve, Split Enz pose in another set of colorful wardrobe articles. Noel wears a half-red, half-green shirt with a square zigzag button-up front. Neil wears yellow/black striped pants that coordinate with panels in the background.

In April 1980, Split Enz embarked on the Sporting True Colours tour of Australia with Mushroom labelmates The Sports, a new wave quintet in the CostelloParker vein whose third album, Suddenly, appeared weeks beforehand and reached No. 13, fueled by the modest hit “Strangers On a Train.”

Split Enz commenced sessions for a followup to True Colours in July 1980, once again with Tickle behind the soundboards.


1981

On November 20, 1980, Split Enz released “One Step Ahead,” an eerie Neil tune about a romance out-of-sync. It starts on a descending bass line, mirrored in the video that opens on Neil, first seen from the knees-down as he descends a flight of stairs. He passes tinted silhouettes of his bandmates as the lyrics betray emotional double-think (“Love is a race won by two… your emotion, my solitude”). He joins the band in a cross-lined black room for the second verse, where Crombie overlays Griggs’ step-down/up-slide figure with glowing mallets (mimed by Rayner in the video). The title appears irregularly in the verses and the rising, tensed-up chorus.

“One Step Ahead” was the first fruits of the album in progress, which Tickle mixed to completion in December 1980. The single has an exclusive b-side, Tim’s “In the Wars,” a strident number (in C minor) with booming drums, martial melodies, and lyrics about battle preparation.


Waiata / Corroboree

In March 1981, Split Enz released their sixth studio album as Waiata in New Zealand and Corroboree in Australia. It features “One Step Ahead” and three additional Neil Finn contributions: the eerie numbers “Iris” and “Ships” and the whirlwind harmony rocker “History Never Repeats.”

Eddie Rayner composed two instrumentals (“Wail,” “Albert of India”) and Tim Finn wrote five songs: three zany uptempo numbers (“Hard Act to Follow,” “I Don’t Wanna Dance,” “Clumsy”), plus the layered Frenzy-style “Walking Through the Ruins” and the lucid ballad “Ghost Girl.”

Hard Act to Follow” (3:17) Tim finds it hard to reenter the dating pool despite the options (“a lot of good acts around; plenty of profound performers”) because his ex is a “hard act to follow” who keeps him “at arms length” and saps all his “strength from a distance.” He distracts hmself with TV, foreign movies, and half-hearted outings (“I go out at night, but after you it doesn’t feel right”).

One Step Ahead” (2:52) Neil tries to stay one step ahead of his girlfriend because she slows him down. He has a dilemma: stop (and risk losing her) or go (and possibly go to far). However, he understands that “love is a race won by two.”

I Don’t Wanna Dance” (3:34) Tim is a “dancer whose sense of rhythm is paralysed” since his girl “walked out that door.” He vows “no more fancy footwork in the nightclub” and declares himself “a still point in a turning world.” He can’t even “stand the sight of lovers moving on the floor” because the memories haunt him nonstop.

Iris” (2:50) Neil portrays a nervous boy who stares from afar at Iris, the “girl with the lovely name” who makes him “feel desirous.” She’s unaware of him, but he knows he’ll “be seeing her quite soon,” so he vows to “be brave” and “put all [his] fears away.”

Wail” (2:49)

Clumsy” (3:29) Tim portrays an ungainly, uncoordinated, “butter-fingered boy” with deviated DNA (possibly “born to bungle”). As he self-depricates (“I’m full of beans and I’m spilling the drinks”) he admires how girls dance graceful and envys the guys that move “like [cats] in a factory.”

History Never Repeats” (3:00) Neil invokes the maxim that what is done can’t be undone as he reflects o his checkered love life. He warns against fighting words (“don’t say the words you might regret; I lost before, you know I can’t forget”) but advises to cut toxic relationships (“better to jump than hesitate”). Despite heartbreak, he believes in a brighter future (“there’s a light shining in the dark leading me on towards a change of heart”).

Walking Through the Ruins” (4:15) Tim uses the fall of Rome as a metaphor for heartbreak. He walks “through the ruins of love” and says his “will is broken” since his “girl smashed it down.” There’s “no escaping” as he drags his “feet through the dust and rubble of [their] love.” They built “cathedrals to ransack and pillage” and now “sunlight is streaming through columns and pillars.” For her, it was an afterthought (“snap of her fingers, crack goes the ceiling”).

Ships” (3:01) Neil talks of vibes between “ships of the night” (passing strangers). Despite ill-health (“my face is turning white”) he resolves to overcome shyness (and possible agoraphobia) and go out to mingle. To hide his “deep down messed up” state, he’s going to “hit town dressed up to the nines.” He notes that some people use drugs to hide their shortcomings (“pop a pill, when they feel exposed”) but he goes out “disguised in fancy-dress” to “make sure no one knows.”

Ghost Girl” (4:26) Tim warns of the “echoing footsteps” and “meandering laughter” of an apparition who’s “pale as the sunrise and cold as the moonlight.” He knows of her dark secrets behind “every whisper” and that “her first and last love was untrue.” He warns “don’t get too close” to a boy who “she’s already started haunting” and offers the following wisdom:

Utter despair has a fatal attraction
When clothed in a shimmering gown
But don’t take up where her assassin left off
Or you’ll be let down by the ghost girl

Albert of India” (4:03)

“Waiata” is the Maori term for song and dance; “corroboree” is the Aboriginal term. The plan was to re-title the album with an equivalent native term in each country. A&M balked at the idea and issued the album throughout the Northern Hemisphere as Waiata.

Split Enz recorded Waiata in the summer of 1980 at Armstrong with Hemmings and Tickle, who mixed the tapes in England at Farmyard, a studio owned by Rupert Hine, the former Quantum Jump frontman who moved into production (Anthony Phillips, Cafe Jacques, The Fixx, Saga). In succession, Tickle worked with The Swingers and produced 1981 singles by Department S and the second album by The Vapors.

Crombie designed the album’s cover image: a triplet on staff in a loose decagon. In Oceania, the cover has a black–white–copper scheme with the letters inside the shape. A&M copies place the letters across the top and sport two color variations: black–white–pink and white–grey–lavender–black. The back features monochrome xerox shots of each member in a geometric frame within the decagon.

“One Step Ahead” reached No. 5 in Australia, No. 6 in New Zealand, and No. 17 in Canada. A&M, in a packaging link with True Colours, laser-etched the US single with a beady pattern, as illustrated on the picture sleeve. The label’s stateside pressing plants also laser-etched Paradise Theatre, the 1981 tenth studio album by Chicago stadium rockers Styx.

“History Never Repeats” reached No. 4 in Australia and No. 5 in New Zealand. It was the 12th video aired on MTV during the US cable network’s first day of broadcast (August 1, 1981). “One Step Ahead” was the 28th video aired. Both became staples of the fledgling channel along with “I Got You” and the group’s subsequent singles.

In the “History Never Repeats” video, Neil shakes himself awake in a narrow room and rises to a flashback of his first breakup, then watches as his brother clowns on the adjacent television. He joins the band in a circus frolic where Tim, Noel, Eddie, and Nigel jump around with rolling globes, decked in the 1976-era harlequin outfits. This marks Crombie’s first appearance with a goatee, which he’d keep through the next album. Absent from the video is Green, who left Split Enz after the album’s release.

Waiata reached No. 1 in New Zealand and (as Corroboree) No. 1 in Australia. Split Enz lifted “I Don’t Wanna Dance” as the album’s third single with an accompanying video where Tim MC’s through a mixed crowd of club goers. Later Waiata CD pressings add the “One Step Ahead” b-side “In the Wars” as a bonus track.

In the Wars” (3:33) Tim potrays a general who commands his men “Prepare to die [and] meet your maker.” He says that anyone “who’s a pax vobiscum (a believer in “peace be with you” — a hippie) is a traitor.” He rants about “blood running rivers” and the importance of war (“you can’t relax, the world will tax your reasons”) because “we’ve got to get our lives… behind enemy lies.”

The album reached No. 17 in Canada, where Split Enz played Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens (7/22/81) as the opening act for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, then storming the charts with “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a duet with Fleetwood Mac vocalist Stevie Nicks, who made a guest appearance at the show. Nicks didn’t take kindly to Neil, purportedly because he scoured the backstage and dressing rooms with a video camera. (Thirty-seven years later, Fleetwood Mac would hire Neil and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell as touring replacements for guitarist–singer Lindsey Buckingham, the onetime romantic partner of Nicks.)

During the US leg of the Waiata tour, Split Enz performed “One Step Ahead” and “Hard Act to Follow” on the NBC late-night talk show Tomorrow With Tom Snyder. Neil was moved by fellow guest Sandy Allen — the tallest woman in the world at 7’7″ — who said “when you’re number one, you don’t have to try so hard.”


1982

On March 15, 1982, Split Enz released “Dirty Creature,” a funk-tinged number co-written between the Finn brothers and Griggs, whose bobbing bass interlocks with Neil’s clipped guitar figure. Tim’s lyrics, inspired by recent panic attacks, use an underwater menace as a metaphorical bogeyman. The group-credited b-side, “Make Sense of It,” is a spinning, wobbly number with a hurricane chorus (“If you shed a tear when the nightmare breaks, just remember dreams go in opposites”) and teetering refrain. The single reached No. 3 in New Zealand and No. 6 in Australia.


Time and Tide

Split Enz released their seventh album, Time and Tide, in April 1982 on Mushroom (Aus), Polydor (NZ), and A&M (abroad). “Dirty Creature” and “Make Sense of It” bookend the album, which features three solo compositions each from Neil Finn (“Hello Sandy Allen,” “Take a Walk,” “Log Cabin Fever”) and Tim Finn (“Never Ceases to Amaze Me,” “Small World,” “Haul Away”). This is the first of two Enz albums where Crombie holds the drum slot.

Nigel Griggs co-wrote “Giant Heartbeat” plus two songs (“Dirty Creature,” “Lost for Words”) with both Finn brothers. Eddie Rayner contributes “Pioneer,” a classical interlude that segues into the group-credited “Six Months in a Leaky Boat.” Noel Crombie pieced together “Make Sense of It” with help from Griggs, Rayner, and both Finn’s.

Dirty Creature” (4:02) Tim has visions of Taniwha, a supernatural serpent in the Maori tradition. He thinks it lurks at “the bottom of a big black lake” and if he sets sail, it will put him in “a vice like grip.” The “river of dread [that] runs deep [is] full of unspeakable things” and the “dirty creatures got [him] at a disadvantage from the inside.” Tim later concludes that he’s an “animal magnet” who needs “a dragon slayer.”

Giant Heartbeat” (3:57) Neil says he feels “like a Zephyr harmonising with a flute” and reveals “red limbs my body’s torn apart.” He ultimately asks “Is anybody listening? The giant heartbeat is fading.”

Hello Sandy Allen” (3:51) Neil recalls his meeting with “the world’s tallest woman” and admits he “felt uneasy” but liked the way she talked. He sees her as “a living hoper” who towered “over [the band’s] heads in more ways than one” and gave an “awesome” handshake. He’s impressed that “appearance never held [her] back” (as Split Enz stared “at the mirror, tryin’ to put [their] faces on”). He hopes she’s happy and that her “garden is blooming.”

Never Ceases to Amaze Me” (3:06) Tim invites the listener for a walk “around the block” of the “non-stop action world” (a zoo), where there’s an “insect singing up in the tree” and a “hippopotamus in the mud.” The experience can “put an end to our ennui” and shyness (“the turtle back in his shell”). Since “loneliness is a locked up heart away,” everyone must “make an effort and ignore the risk.”

Lost for Words” (3:02) Tim asks “Tell me sir what would you do” (the others add “if you were me”). He gives random options (“Hop, skip and jump like a kangaroo?”) and complains (“I can’t relate, to your vicious excuses”) because “the damage has all been done, and talking is useless.”

Small World” (3:37) Tim lives in cramped quarters (“not a very big house, for a large family”) under scrutiny (“a Russian man is sent to spy upon us”). He thinks of bomb tests (“someone else’s leader needs [to] kill Pacific Atoll”) and fears that he’s in a “small world… and it’s getting smaller.” He distrusts the new world order (“a broken circuit, no one tells the truth”) and asks “Are we mammals with a future in this nutshell?”

Take a Walk” (3:37) Neil sees the “sunrise dancing on [his] wall” and decides to “split out… off beaten tracks… up a mountain to a stream… [to] laugh at simple truth… [and] feel the boy in me escape.”

Pioneer” (1:32)

Six Months in a Leaky Boat” (4:21) Tim portrays an English captain who leads a ship of pioneers to New Zealand. He recalls his childhood desire “to sail around the world” with “the lust of a pioneer.” The “thunderclap in the sky” alerts him to dangers but “the tyranny of distance didn’t stop the cavalier” and “there’s a wind in [his] sails [that] will protect and prevail.” Tim took lyrical inspiration from Tyranny of Distance, a 1966 book by Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey about the nation’s geographical remoteness from the UK and USA and its impact on the local culture.

Haul Away” (2:27) Tim recounts his birth (“Te Awamutu, 25th of June 1952”) as a 10pound infant. He invites his parents (Richard and Mary Finn) to “drink to [his] journey.” He runs through early details (boarding school, scholarship, catholic conditions) and fast forwards to the start of Split Enz (at 21) “in an Auckland flat [where] this odyssey began.” He admits that “ambition has lost [him] friends and time” and alludes to recent challenges (“now I’m having a nervous breakdown”), then concludes “everyone has their own little story.”

Log Cabin Fever” (4:36) Neil describes “log cabin fever” (“remote possibility… impossible delivery”) and wishes he “could just cry out to someone… [beyond the] isolation of the cruelest kind.” He thinks of “mad old Jim” who was “found… in his cabin with his head caved in [because] waiting out the winter was a little too much for him.” Neil decides it’s “time to break away… [and] rejoin the human race.”

Make Sense of It” (3:40) Tim points “deep within the forest… in the Congo where life began… living proof of a master plan. He relates the primitive quality of nature (where “the heart of man still hollers”) to modern life where people “stumble on some forgotten truth.” He believes that “in the midst of human crisis… goodwill triumphant rises” and people should “just remember dreams go in opposites.”

Split Enz recorded Time and Tide at Paradise Studios, Sydney, between December 1981 and February 1982 with Hugh Padgham, who Tim reconnected with on their last English tour. Since Frenzy, Padgham engineered albums by XTC (Black Sea) and Peter Gabriel (“melting face”) and produced albums by The Police (Ghost In the Machine), Phil Collins (Face Value), and Genesis (Abacab). He produced and engineered Time and Tide just prior to his work on the first English solo album by ex-ABBA singer Frida Lyngstad (Something’s Going On) and XTC’s 1982 double-album English Settlement. The assistant engineer, David Price, also worked on Defying Gravity, the 1982 second album by The Sherbs, a rebranded Sherbet.

Crombie conceived the Time and Tide cover layout, which features his yellow-tinted photography in black framework. By this stage, the band wore neutral clothes, an aesthetic mirrored in the sleeves and packaging.

Split Enz lifted “Six Months In a Leaky Boat” as the second single. With its harmonized chorus line and two-clap hook, it reached No. 2 in Australia and No. 7 in New Zealand and Canada. In the video, Tim plays a sea captain with a crew of four. After the folk break, they reach their destination where Tim, spyglass in hand, becomes the first Englishman to make contact with Maoris.

They chose “Never Ceases to Amaze Me” as a third single, possibly to court the funk audience that took a newfound liking to Split Enz with “Dirty Creature.” In the video, Tim plays a zookeeper who wanders the cages during off-hours while the band beam in and out in spacemen uniforms. His bouffanted love interest is played by Griggs’ then-girlfriend.

Time and Tide reached No. 1 in Australia and New Zealand and No. 4 in Canada. Its performance in the UK was hindered by the BBC, which banned “Six Months In a Leaky Boat” because of its title, which programmers deemed inappropriate in light of the Falklands War. In the US, “Six Months In a Leaky Boat” and “Dirty Creature” were put into moderate rotation on MTV.

“Six Months In a Leaky Boat” is backed with the non-album “Fire Drill,” a Finn brothers composition where they harmonize over a waving bassline and locomotive beat, which erupt into a flaming chorus and martial midsection.


1983

December 1982 marked the tenth anniversary of Split Enz’ first concert (as Split Ends). By now, Tim Finn was the only standing member of the original quintet that played Wynard Tavern back in 1972. Mushroom issued Enz of an Era, a collection of the band’s singles from “Late Last Night” to present. It sports a lime green cover and contains a fold-out poster collage of their various guises, including a rare pic of Enz in their little-seen medieval costumes from the December 1976 Courting the Act tour.

To mark the anniversary, Split Enz played a special show in January 1983 at His Majesty’s Theatre in Wellington, where the current lineup (Tim, Neil, Eddie, Noel, Nigel) were joined by three members from past iterations (Emilyn Crowther, Mike Chunn, Rob Gillies) to resurrect a clutch of old numbers: “Split Ends,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “The Woman Who Loves You,” “129,” and the intro of “Another Great Divide,” which Tim cut short. (Judd, who recently split the Swingers and launched a solo career, could not attend.)


“Next Exit”

In March 1983, Split Enz re-recorded the Luton-era “Next Exit” for release as a standalone single. The 1978 Tickle-produced version had since appeared on More Hits and Myths, a 1982 compilation of Kiwi new wave that Chunn assembled for his XSF label. The new hi-tech version was accompanied with a low-budget video where Tim lip-syncs behind the wheel of a fake car amid green screen while the others lip-sync the “whatcha gonna do about it” interjections in a parallel car. The depressed narrator drives into the dark until his vehicle gets cloud-swept. He exits the car for a cloud swim, suggesting he’s now in heaven. “Next Exit” is backed with two b-sides from the 1978–79 era: the jazz-pop shuffle “Two of a Kind” and the minimalist piano ballad “Remember When.”


Tim Solo

Tim stockpiled a number of songs that didn’t fit the Enz environment, including “They Won’t Let My Girlfriend Talk to Me,” a ’50s style R&B ballad that became a spring 1981 hit for Australian comedy rockers Jimmy and the Boys. With the newfound popularity of “She Got Body She Got Soul” — performed as “Body and Soul” with gender-modified lyrics by actress Jo Kennedy in the 1982 musical film Starstruck — Mushroom sensed Tim’s potential outside the band and greenlighted a solo album. The resulting Escapade appeared in June 1983. It reached No. 1 in New Zealand, No. 8 in Australia, and spawned a No. 2 hit (NZ and Netherlands) with “Fraction Too Much Friction.” Players on the album include ex-Beach Boys drummer Ricky Fataar, jazz-funk keyboardist Richard Tee, and country star Vince Gill (mandolin on “Not For Nothing”).

Meanwhile, Crombie issued a novelty solo single: the Jack Clement cover “My Voice Keeps Changing On Me” (b/w “Ninee Neezup”). Seven days before Escapade dropped, Split Enz started work on their next album. With Tim drained of ideas, Neil wrote the majority of songs.


Conflicting Emotions

Split Enz released their eighth studio album, Conflicting Emotions, in November 1983 on Mushroom (Aus), Polydor (NZ), and A&M. It contains six Neil compositions, including the singles “Straight Old Line” and “Message to My Girl” and the popular deep cuts “Our Day” and “The Devil You Know.” Tim submitted four numbers, including the album’s closing trio: “I Wake Up Every Night,” “Conflicting Emotions,” and “Bon Voyage.”

Straight Old Line” (4:03) Neil refers to music industry pratfalls (“the road of ambition, it’s a casualty trail; press gangs wait to ambush the weak and weary”) and warns newbies against looking to the left or right of the straight old line because those who do often fall “down a bottomless well.”

Message to My Girl” (4:04) Neil avoids the words “I love you” because “it’s hip to be detached and precious.” He wraps his feelings in conversation and keeps them “whispered in a hush.” Despite his fears of “giving away to much,” he resolves to end his “empty self possession” and be transparent with his love.

Our Day” (4:57) Neil and his wife (Sharon) anticipate the birth of their first child (Liam Finn, born September 1983). The expecting father appreciates how “there’s a brain that’s absolutely free from any kind of conscious thought.” He notes his upcoming band obligations (“I’ll be going on a journey In a flimsy paper boat upon a stormy sea”) and that he “can’t imagine what the future holds” but promises the best for his young one.

The Devil You Know” (3:35) Neil longs “to see the other side of things” (the top of cliffs, the deep sea) and feels “stuck by the rules of fate” because the life he’s chosen precludes certain experiences. He extends the sentiment to the working class man and their boundaries:

Into the city, piling through the factory gates
It’s not easy to escape
All the decisions that you’ve already made

I Wake Up Every Night” (4:46) Tim likes to “dress up and travel light” and take the metro line each night to the city and “look for life.” At night, he’s a “free man” with no restraint (“off the rails”) or “emotional baggage.”

Conflicting Emotions” (4:30) Tim admits that his feelings run hot and cold “like water from the tap.” He realizes that his “main obstacle… is terminal indecision” and promises to “resolve the conflict” because “the convict” (contentment) “has a longing to be free.”

Sessions took place at Paradise with Price and Padgham, who completed production on Conflicting Emotions immediately after working on Synchronicity and Genesis. Price went on to work with INXS and Midnight Oil.

Tim enlisted Fataar on “Message to My Girl.” The remaining songs feature a drum machine. Crombie sticks to percussion on most tracks.

In the video to “Straight Old Line,” Split Enz mime in slow motion on a two-level stage. The all-white scheme (suits and stage) is illuminated with rotating tints of red, blue, yellow, pink, and orange. Tim wrote the non-album b-side, “Parasite.”

In “Message to My Girl,” a casually dressed Neil walks around a soundstage with mock-cityscapes as the band mimes. They are joined here by a new sixth member, drummer Paul Hester, who answered their call just prior to filming. Hester hailed from the original lineup of Sydney new wavers Deckchairs Overboard and played on their 1982 debut EP.

Conflicting Emotions sports illustrations by Judd (front cover) and Crombie (back). Mushroom copies duplicate the cover image on the LP labels. Concurrently, Judd debuted as a Mushroom solo artist with Private Lives, produced by Al Kooper.


1984

In April 1984, Tim was contacted by Serbian film director Dušan Makavejev about The Coca-Cola Kid, a romantic comedy based on the short stories The Americans, Baby, and The Electrical Experience by Australian writer Frank Moorhouse. Tim played a small musical role in the film and struck up a romance with its co-star, Italian–Australian actress Greta Scacchi. In his absence, Split Enz played three Melbourne shows as When the Cat’s Away. Their setlist included several oddities, including a cover of the Thunderclap Newman anthem “Something In the Air” and a new epic, “Aotearoa – Land of the Long White Cloud.”

At the 1983 Australian Pop Awards (held April 15, 1984, at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne), Tim cleaned house, winning Album of the Year (Escapade), Songwriter of the Year, Most Popular Male Performer, and Best Promotional Video (“Fraction Too Much Friction”). At the ceremony, he mimed to the Escapade piano ballad “In a Minor Key.” With his solo success and increased musical distance from Split Enz, Tim left the band in July 1984.

Neil initially chose to carry on as the sole singer and songwriter in Split Enz, which now had no original members. Three weeks later — grappling with Tim’s legacy as the band’s founder–figurehead and the inevitable comparisons going forward — Neil changed his mind and decided to end Split Enz and start anew. They would record one final album and summon Tim back for a farewell tour.


See Ya ‘Round

Split Enz released their ninth and final studio album, See Ya ‘Round, on November 22, 1984, on Mushroom. It features five songs that Neil completed in time for the summer sessions: “Breakin’ My Back,” “I Walk Away,” “Doctor Love,” “One Mouth Is Fed,” and “Voices,” a ballad with saxophonist Wilbur Wilde, formerly of Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons.

Neil developed “Voices” from an old After Hours demo of an unfinished song called “Fall Out With the Lads.” Another Neil oldie, “Kia Kaha (Ever Be Strong),” initially appeared as the b-side to “Message to My Girl.” He co-wrote “Years Go By” with Rayner, who contributed “The Lost Cat,” a lengthy instrumental with flugelhornist Bob Venier (ex-Pyramid). The second half of the album contains tracks by Griggs (“Adz”) and Hester (“This Is Massive”). A group recording of Crombie’s 1983 solo b-side “Ninnie Knees Up” finishes the album.

I Walk Away” (3:50) Neil finds himself “marching to a different tune” from a woman he’s deemed a “slave to ambition” who makes “tension [a] permanent condition.” Though they’ve parted, he recalls their whirlwind beginning:

You came out of the world to me
My life parted like the red sea
We flowed easy between the rocks and stones

One Mouth Is Fed” (3:27) Neil laments cruel balance between feat (“one mouth is fed”) and famine (“another is denied”) and that somewhere “there must be a lot of pain for the happiness [he feels] today.” Anytime soneone is in a fortunate place (“as we lay in between the sheets”) someone somewhere else is not so fortunate (“ships are sinking in the bay”).

Years Go By” (4:15) Neil cherishes intimate time (“seconds last for hours all evening”) in a cozy place (“this purple room is breathing”) and tells his partner “love not grow old where we reside.”

Lost Cat” (5:41)

ADZ” (4:11) Nigel chastises inauthentic use of The Toki (Adze: a Maori symbol of strength, determination, courage, and perseverance) by TV “red herring heroes” who “feign disguise… to tease you and tantalise.”

See Ya ‘Round was co-produced between Split Enz and Jim Barton, an engineer on the 1978/79 Little River Band albums Sleeper Catcher and First Under the Wire. He subsequently worked on albums by Gary Moore (Run for Cover), Kate Bush, Queensrÿche, and Rush. The co-engineer, studio newcomer Doug Brady, subsequently worked with Hunters & Collectors, Pseudo Echo, and Real Life.

Graeme Webber, the photographer on Mental Notes, returned to photograph the cover of See Ya ‘Round, which shows Enz’ five heads protrude from cartoon wall illustrations. “I Walk Away” preceded the album’s release as the final Split Enz single. The accompanying video, which shows them playing violins through head and hand wall cutouts, extends on Webber’s theme. Neil cut a revised version of “I Walk Away” with his next band, Crowded House.

Mushroom lifted “One Mouth Is Fed” as the final Split Enz single. In the video, Enz mime in a color-lit dark room in matching black suits, each patterned with Maori-style swirl shapes in multiple pastel hues. They wore the same outfits on their subsequent farewell tour.

See Ya ‘Round only appeared in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, where A&M issued the album with a grey border. A 2006 CD reissue lists the 1983 version of “Next Exit” as a bonus track. However, a pressing error placed Tim’s “Mr. Catalyst” — a heady funk piece recorded just prior to his departure — as track 12.


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