S is for Split Enz

Saturday 23rd November

This band seemed to spring fully formed out of nowhere.  Well, out of Australia actually, although lead singer Tim Finn and his brother Neil were Kiwi’s.   They had a couple of early singles and an album out in Australia, but their first UK release was a record called ‘Dizrythmia’ in the earl seventies.  On the cover they appeared in brightly coloured suits and zany hair; this was in the middle of the ‘Glam’ pop stuff with bands like Gary Glitter and Sweet and Slade dominating the charts, so in our ignorance we thought they might be more of the same.

Joy and I went to see them at the Roundhouse, and had never heard any of their music before.  We were in for a big surprise.  They wore the famous suits and coloured starched hair, but boy could they play.  And not only their own instruments; in the middle of a song Tim would run over and snatch a bass guitar from the player, who would then run to the drums and take over, the drummer pushing the keyboard player off his seat and so on.  And the music just continued; at times frenzied with lots of crazy squealing brass, at times more gentle and soulful.   The songs were so different, singing about Crosswords ‘I’m down, your across’ or Hermit Mcdermott, or I see Red.  But all sung with enthusiasm and panache.

I saw them a few more times and gradually bought all their records.  In the early eighties the band sort of morphed into ‘Crowded House’, and the Finn brothers still occasionally tour or make a record.  Almost the only band from the Antipodes to make it globally, they have now achieved cult status, and their old records are exchanged for ridiculous sums on e-bay.   I still look out for them, but their CDs are hard to find and mostly very expensive.  Which may tell you something…