Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ah c'mon all you lads (Split Enz)

  1. The Exponents – Like She Said (1994)/ Nameless Girl (1992)
  2. Blerta - Dance All Around The World (1972)/ Joy Joy (1972)
  3. Dragon Young Years (1989)/ Rain (1984)
  4. John Hanlon - Higher Trails (1975)/ Wind Songs (1975)
  5. Crowded House - Private Universe (1994)/ Weather With You (1991)
  6. Split Enz - Six Months In A Leaky Boat  (1982)/ Split Ends - One Two Nine (1973)
Sixth in the Wozza countdown of the 10 best Nu Zild bands and their two best songs is the mighty Split Ends who then became the even more mighty Split Enz.

One of the great things about NZ music is how accessible the bands are to the public at large.

My mate Greg wrote recently to tell me that he remembers hearing Dragon rehearsing from their house near his place in Mt Eden when he was a teenager. He also reminded me that people could book John Hanlon to appear in their living rooms with his guitar and voice.

The band who played at the Mt Albert Grammar school ball in 1976 was Th' Dudes - a great NZ band who may have made my top 10 (you'll have to wait and see). I remember the night well!

And then there was Split Ends, as they were called when they started out: a people's band if ever there was one. The Finn's of Te Awamutu - there you have it - as down home as you can get!

I have a single in my collection at home in Nu Zild that is very special to me. It is Split Ends One Two Nine on the EMI label. You'll notice it was the B side (to Sweet Talking Spoon Song, a good but to my ears, an inferior song to the wonderful One Two Nine).

It was given to me in 1973 by a school friend from Mt Albert Grammar - a fellow member of Senior Five - Michael Budd. I can remember the day he gave it me very clearly.

I was living with the rest of my family in Asquith Ave in Mt Albert at the time, close to another mate (Peter Cahill) while we were waiting for our new home in Mt Roskill to be built. I loved living so close to all my friends (Mike lived in Ponsonby) and so close to the school.

One day during the summer holidays Mike came round to our place in his little Morris Minor (called a Morrie Thousand or Morrie Thou' for short) after work. He was working at the local Heards’ sweet factory.

He had a pile of singles with him: One Two Nine by a group called Split Ends. Seems some members of the group were also working at the Heards factory - supplementing a non-existent income I guess - and they had given Mike some singles to give to his friends. I still have the copy he gave me as I mentioned.

This was fantastic because I knew the song from the TV show - a NZ Opportunity Knocks style show called New Faces. We all loved this show - an early precursor to the X Factor, Turkmenistan's Got Talent rubbish we have now.

At the time it was one of the rare chances we had to see some pop bands on TV. I can remember seeing bands like Split Ends and Space Waltz and solo artists like John Hanlon and Shona Laing from that show especially.

Regardless of my rose tinted memories, it’s a great great song – done in an endearingly flippant kind of tone. I can remember being slightly disappointed with their first album (Mental Notes) because it was much darker and dense in its sound compared to the fun One Two Nine.

Six Months… comes from a vastly different period for the band; much more straight forwardly poppy thanks to Nil Fun being a member (see my previous post for his adventures after the end of the Enz).

It’s probably become a larger than intended touchstone for ex-pats because of the New Zealand references (Aotearoa, rugged individual) and the succinct explanation for our country’s isolation (tyranny of distance).

I include it also to celebrate the patriotic feel that I always have when I live outside the country. Even when I visited NZ at Christmas I felt more positive about the place. Much more positive.

Here’s my top ten of NZ positivity

·         The music industry is fantastic.
·         Isolation can be a blessing.
·         Being laid back is better than over thinking things.
·         Pohutakawa blooms are amazing.
·         The All Blacks won the world cup.
·         The proximity of the sea and swimming beaches is a real plus.
·         The film industry is exciting.
·         JB Hi Fi has a great CD and DVD selection at reasonable prices.
·         My habibi and the immediate fandamly are (mostly) there.
·         And, of course, some of my favourite people are NZers.

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