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About Split Enz
Best known for their early-'80s new wave pop hits, particularly "I Got You," Split Enz -- after surviving a dizzying array of image, style, and personnel changes -- became the first New Zealand band to achieve worldwide success. Although they never reached superstar status outside of Australia and New Zealand, the band developed a strong international cult following which continued to thrive over a decade after their breakup. Split Enz's output always seemed slightly outside of the times and often frustratingly obscure, but in the end, they left behind an impressively diverse body of work. Though no two of their albums were the same, their history can roughly be broken down into two periods -- their highly theatrical, wildly original first period and the more mainstream new wave period of the early-80s.
The group was founded in 1972 around songwriters Tim Finn and Phil Judd as an acoustic combo called Split Ends. The team proved to be an interesting combination -- Judd drew his inspiration from a wild variety of often non-musical sources while Finn's tastes leaned toward the British pop of the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Move. They expanded into progressive rock band with complex, neo-classical structures and arrangements, blending an eclectic mix of styles. They became Split Enz in 1974, building a strong following in Australia through theatrical shows and outrageous hair styles and cosumes. 1975 saw the impressive debut of Mental Notes (a re-recorded version was released the following year as Second Thoughts). When Phil Judd left in 1977, they replaced Judd with Tim's younger brother Neil and added a new rhythm section, essentially creating a new band.
Tim Finn assumed leadership of the new Split Enz shiffting away from their early artiness with Dizrhythmia (1977) and Frenzy (1978), but they made their big breakthrough with 1979's True Colours, showcasing Neil Finn's emerging songwriting talents, especially on the irresistible new wave classic "I Got You". The band's early practice of making conceptual videos for their songs made them favorites of the new MTV. Corroborree followed in 1981 with memorable hits such as "History Never Repeats" and "One Step Ahead", and in 1982 they hit a creative peak with the introspective Time and Tide. Tim Finn left the band in 1984 following Conflicting Emotions to pursue a solo career. The remaining members carried on for 1984's See Ya Round but disbanded following a farewell tour of Australia and New Zealand. The band members continued to record in a variety of projects with Neil Finn's Crowded House being the highest profile.
- Auckland, New Zealand
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