Archive for May, 2008

Trifle

May 30, 2008

Trifle Trifle (1970): Here’s a one-off that I actually thought had been an American artifact. It must have been the funky elements – traits of an idiom yet to cross the Atlantic. Anyway, another fine entity of British brass rock, where tasty horn backing compliment a Meters-like frontal line of scratchy, funky chord progressions. And now that I think about it, they do sound rather Angloid when the singer gets to that “Alibi Annie” vocal hook.

Trifle

Split Enz – Second Thoughts/Mental Notes

May 15, 2008

Split Enz - Second Thoughts (1976)

This album was one of the foundations of my musical awakening. I purchased it when I was 14 years of age (in 1987), and it was my gateway into 1970s prog and art rock. This album formed the cornerstone of my musical and aesthetic identity throughout my teens and twenties.

The music on Mental Notes (aka Second Thoughts) is a number of things:

It is lush, grandiose, quintessentially ’70s symphonic progressive – from the blankets of mellotron and lyrical guitar strides which weave and embed “Stranger Than Fiction”, to the classical piano forward and orchestral climax of “Time for a Change”.

It is quirky, technicolor vaudeville, inline with The Kinks-infected music hall of such contemporaries as Stackridge, Sparks and Kayak – from the thumping top-hat burleque of “Lovey Dovey” to the mind-boggling keyboard tapestry of “Walking Down a Road”, and onto the contorted cabaret musings of “The Woman Who Loves You”.

It is antique and folky – from the mandolin minstrel strut of “Matinee Idyll”, to the lucid acoustic meltdown of “Sweet Dreams”.

It is wholly indefinable avant garde, thoroughly original and comparable to no one – from the through-composed, warped tropical slip-slide of “Late Last Night”, to the demented, bare-bones chordal crunching of the title track.

Mental Notes – one of the most fascinating, unique, inventive, diverse and remarkably unclassifiable albums of all time.

Several of the above-mentioned songs can be heard, and a few even viewed, on this page.:

Split Enz (1975-1977)

(The page goes by the Australasian releases, where Mental Notes was actually the title of their Oceanic-only 1975 debut, whilst their Northern Hemisphere release entitled Mental Notes (from 1976) was actually titled Second Thoughts down under. The latter album is the one which I was discussing in my praise up above.