Friday, December 6, 2013

Split Enz: WAIATA

But before we get to that, a couple of other things....
First off, sorry for the delays around here. I haven't always been able to hook-up to the Internet lately, plus I had a long Thanksgiving week at work, etc. The usual feeble excuses. I shall henceforth try to do better.
Also: If you have a Kindle, you can now download the first 20 pages of my record-store memoir GUARANTEED GREAT MUSIC! at's Kindle Store for FREE! Hopefully this will entice some of you Out There to give the rest of the book a try.
Those first 20 pages are all details that have never been published anywhere before, describing the record store where I worked, some of the great people I worked with, the atmosphere in the place, some of the fun jobs I got to do as The New Kid, and etc. Hopefully after reading that, you'll want to know MORE. Pretty devious, eh...?
And: By listening to the syndicated music-news-and-reviews radio show SOUND OPINIONS, I was reminded that I forgot to include Patti Smith's WAVE album in my playlist/discography RECORD STORE DAZE. The first side of WAVE is pretty great, especially the should-have-been-hit "Frederick" and "Dancing Barefoot," and the intense side-closer "Revenge."
The more time that goes by and the more things surface that I forgot, the more I feel like I should have let the whole book project "cool off" for a couple more months and THEN given it one last look-over. But then, I'm a perfectionist....

Now then, Split Enz's WAIATA (1981). This is an upbeat, goofy, fun album from the New Zealanders who almost had a hit with 1979's "I Got You" off of TRUE COLOURS. There were two should-have-been hits here, both side-openers: "Hard Act to Follow" and "History Never Repeats." Both these are high-speed, with great, catchy choruses and a trebly, high-impact production. Hear either of these and you'll want to hear the rest of the album. That's how it's supposed to work, right?
"One Step Ahead" was almost a hit -- I remember seeing the silly, abstract, colorful, cockatoo-hair video on MTV. But "One Step Ahead" is also the most "normal"-sounding thing here, the least surprising, and it wore out for me a long time ago.
Beyond that, there's hardly a weak song here. "I Don't Want to Dance" and "Clumsy" are almost companion pieces, about why the singer can't dance for various silly reasons. They're both pretty speedy. "Iris" is a sweet love song with some silly rhymes, and "Wail" is another blast of instrumental high energy.
Over on Side 2, after "History," things get moody with "Walking Through the Ruins," "Ships," and the spooky "Ghost Girl." The album closes with the gorgeous romantic movie-soundtrack-music of the instrumental "Albert of India." I loved it, but then I'm a sucker for a good instrumental. It may strike some of you as Not Rock And Roll.
All this stuff is pretty-much lighter-than-air, hard to take too seriously or even get down about -- even the moody stuff on Side 2. For me, this is a stronger, more memorable album than TRUE COLOURS, and it has never worn-out for me over the years. Three tracks from it are included on the Enz's best-of: "Hard Act to Follow," "History Never Repeats," and "One Step Ahead."
Light, bouncy, energetic, upbeat -- you can't go wrong, really. Worthy of at least four stars, for sure.

Coming soon: Reviews of "one-sided wonders" by Spider, New England, the Tarney/Spencer Band, Holly and the Italians, The Records, and more -- plus reviews of albums by The Headboys, The Rollers, Sally Oldfield, Charlie Dore, Grace Slick, Sky, Group 87, Todd Rundgren and Utopia, and tons more from the 1979-1981 period....

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