Reissues review: Split Enz – Mental Notes/Dizrhythmia
By Classic Pop | June 23, 2020
Split Enz: Mental Notes 6/10
Split Enz: Dizrhythmia 8/10
Mainly known as the Finn brothers’ band before Crowded House, Neil Finn had yet to join elder brother Tim in the art-rockers for their 1976 second album Mental Notes. Produced by Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera, it confusingly shared the name of Split Enz’s debut from the year before. The original version of the album, stuffed with Bonzo Dog-style whimsy, is the version out on streaming. Demon’s vinyl reissue is of the Manzanera version, by which time Tim Finn and co-writer Phil Judd had marginally refined their eccentricities, though the ukulele strum Titus is the highlight across both editions of Mental Notes
Judd had quit by the follow-up, allowing Neil Finn to kickstart his career as Judd’s replacement. Dizrhythmia is a significant step-up, with Charlie and Without A Doubt the first hints of Crowded House’s sublime melancholia. The Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick helped turn past self-indulgence into euphoric psych-pop on My Mistake, while Parrot Fashion Love and Nice To Know were sharp, menacing stomps in step with Ian Dury And The Blockheads, not a style usually associated with Neil Finn. Blasting clear of their messy, neither fish-nor-flesh arthouse background, Split Enz were suddenly art-school rockers with a purpose.
Mental Notes 6/10