Thursday, August 4, 2016

40 Year Itch : I Can't Get Over It

Split Enz : Sweet Dreams

There may not have been a stranger looking group in the 1970s than this early incarnation of the New Zealand band Split Enz. Their clown make-up, bold costumes and bizarre hairdos may have made such a demented visual impression, few took the music they played seriously.  But Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera did. He produced 1976's Second Thoughts. Most of the album is made up of new versions of songs from the Spit Enz 1975 debut Mental Notes, which had only been released in Australia.

  Among the highlights is "Sweet Dreams", written by one of the band's two strongest songwriters Phil Judd. Judd would leave, return and eventually leave again to form The Swingers. The other songwriter, Tim Finn, would bring his younger brother Neil on board and by 1980, with the single "I Got You", Split Enz found success as a Beatlesque pop band. By 1986 Neil and drummer Paul Hester formed an even bigger band called Crowded House.

  Back to Second Thoughts. It's a grower. The first time you hear the album it just sounds like infantile Genesis . But there are hooky melodies that emerge eventually and that's how repeated listens pay off. The album didn't sell well but the band earned a reputation for bizarre live shows.
  You also have to admit Split Enz were years ahead of everyone else in the making of music videos.

Fun fact: In 1977 Split Enz opened for senescent comedian Henny Youngman at The Bottom Line in New York City

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