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Articles Home » 1975 Articles » Split Enz - 1975 Mental Notes
Split Enz - 1975 Mental Notes

ARTIST: Split Enz
ALBUM: Mental Notes
LABEL: Mushroom Australia
SERIAL: L 35588
YEAR: 1975
CD REISSUE: 2006, Mushroom, 5101136322 (with bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Tim Finn - vocals, piano * Phil Judd - vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin * Mike Chunn - bass, piano * Noel Crombie - vocals, percussion * Emlyn Crowther - drums * Eddie Rayner - organ, Synthesizer, piano, mellotron, keyboards * Wally Wilkinson - lead guitar

TRACK LISTING: 01 Walking Down The Road * 02 Under My Wheel * 03 Amy (Darling) * 04 So Long For Now * 05 Stranger Than Fiction * 06 Time For A Change * 07 Maybe * 08 Titus * 09 Spellbound * 10 Mental Notes


There was nothing quite like Split Enz. Not in New Zealand, not in the vast sun baked expanses of Australia and no where on Earth for that matter. Split Enz appeared truly to be from another planet and while their music early on attached itself to the progressive rock/ art pop caravan, their concerts were a whirl of colourful geometric shapes, pre-punk art hair and Vaudeville psychedelic theater matched with a recorded output filled to the brim with pop sensibilities very few bands at the time came close attempting. A big attraction on the New Zealand college circuit; the band's first of many pop smart singles 'For You' was released in 1973. Kiwi television appearances as well as a wide variety of support slots in their home country as well as Australia with Lou Reed, Roxy Music, Space Waltz and Leo Sayer to testy and at times dangerous shows with rough and wild rockers Buffalo, Finch, Skyhooks and yes even AC/DC, solidified their position as Oceania's premier cult outfit.

The Songs
If you're only familiar with the band's new wavy chart-topping hit 'I Got You'; then you're in for a surprise with 'Mental Notes'. With nifty and slightly creepy cover art by member Phil Judd, it's very reminiscent of Paul Whitehead and the early Genesis albums. Fittingly since Split Enz on their debut was very much a melodic progressive band. In fact, Genesis 'Selling England By The Pound' is as good point of reference as any, especially on opener 'Walking Down The Road' and the moody 'Under My Wheel' which includes lofty stretches of mellotron. Vocals are handled by Tim Finn and Phil Judd. Both are quite theatrical and yet very different stylists, in particular Judd whose fluttering quavers are very odd, at times maniacal. Lyrically it's pretty strange stuff too, but it was enough for Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera who brought the band to England, producing their sophomore release 'Second Thoughts' and re-recording 'Walking Down The Road', 'Stranger Than Fiction', 'Time For A Change' and 'Titus' with mixed results.

In Summary
With each consecutive album, Split Enz became increasingly commercial, but in a good way of course, always sticking to their art rock roots with oodles of creativity put into each album. 1977's 'Dizrythmia' and 'Frenzy' from 1979 are my personal favourites, but you can't go wrong with anything they've done really. Off shoots The Swingers, Schell Fenster and the incredibly successful Crowded House are worth checking out as well.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 03 2010 12:07:03
Actually, there was one other band who were just as wacky as SE, but who also dabbled in progressive rock a la Genesis, and they were the mighty MOTHER GOOSE from Dunedin NZ. They later emigrated to Australia (I think Perth actually), they released two albums in their time, but it is their single (and not very representative of their overall sound) 'Baked Beans' that everyone remembers them by. Very wacky song.. There is a YT clip of it somewhere..
#2 | Eric on November 03 2010 12:45:22
Mother Goose- yes, NZ's answer to the Bonzo Dog Band!
#3 | gdazegod on November 03 2010 13:16:17
I think Mother Goose were heavily influenced by Bruno Lawrence and Blerta, who probably also had a hand in Split Enz' imagery and caravan/art rock style too. Blerta had a huge hit in 1971 called 'Come Dance All Around The World'. Any Kiwi growing up as a teenager during that time will be aware of that song!
#4 | gdazegod on November 03 2010 13:17:45
I'm quite partial to Split Enz' 1980 album 'True Colours' which has a brace of excellent songs onboard including the seminal hit 'I See Red'.
#5 | Eric on November 03 2010 16:42:45
What was in the NZ water back then.. lol! Heard of Blerta, never actually heard thier stuff..
#6 | jefflynnefan on November 03 2010 23:27:46
I grew up on the USA version of this lp that was redone by Phil Manzanera. AKA 'Second Thoughts', because they decided to later get a new producer PM and change it up hence the 'Second Thoughts' title. Both versions are excellent and contain some different songs on each version. I do prefer the PM redone ones probably because those were the first versions I heard. 'Stranger Than Fiction' going into 'Time For A Change' is some of the finest music ever to me. I think this album- both versions combined is a masterpiece. Shake magazine dubbed it 'The Sgt. Peppers' of the 70's.
#7 | gdazegod on November 03 2010 23:29:57
You might enjoy Blerta I reckon Eric. I'll have a hunt for some of their albums today. Bruno Lawrence was the main guy in the band, he was their drummer, singer, but he also ended up being one of NZ's best actors during the 80's, with roles in top movies such as 'Smash Palace' (which features Sharon O'Neill on the OST), plus 'The Quiet Earth', which was to the 80's what Will Smith and 'I Am Legend' was to the noughties.
#8 | Eric on November 03 2010 23:52:24
Well, I wouldn't go that far to compare with 'Sgt Pepper's....' but both are imaginative albums. I'm looking at a Berta soundtrack CD on eBay. It's cheap, might put down some dough on it tonight...
#9 | gdazegod on November 07 2010 04:16:15
I'll check for you Chris.. Funny this, I've been having a Split Enz nostaliga week.. been playing 'True Colours' repetitively..
#10 | jefflynnefan on November 07 2010 06:35:58
Thanks George! I thought I'd might buy it again if it had the lyrics plus I'd like to hear the remastered version of "Ghost Girl". "True Colours", "Corroboree", "Tide and Tide", and "Conflicting Emotions" contain some of the best music I've ever heard! All of them still hold up after all these years.
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