Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: World Music, Pop, Rock
Details TBA. Mushroom. 1988.
Details TBA. Mushroom. 1988.
Powerful and Strange ((Large Improvement On Sound))
allismile0 | Washington, DC | 02/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"(updated review I wrote for the original CD version in 2003)
"I find Mental Notes to be the most intriguing song cycle that Split Enz came up with. Before they were a relatively popular new wave band in the early 80's they were art rockers making wonderfully strange music reminiscent of early Genesis and Roxy Music.
There is a great sense of poetry, style and wildness to every song both in the obvious lyrical form as well as the melody and the way it is approached by the musicians. These were odd young men that were angry, happy, and musically fearless.
The popular thing to review about this album is the comparison to its follow up Second Thoughts, which is an all important comparison. Second Thoughts is one year later- different producer (Phil Manzanera- roxy music) "cleaning up" the sound, four re-recorded songs, and a strong desire to make the music more commercial.
Two months ago I bought both albums after reading various reviews on both albums- many reviewers split between which was a better one. I think that it is a truly tough call in that both albums have something unique about them. Mental Notes is a raw artsy sounding record recalling Roxy Music's first two albums; with amazing songs that were left off Second Thoughts like Under the Wheel, Amy (darling) and Maybe (although there are some pretty good replacements like Late Last Night and Matinee Idyll). Second Thoughts has much more sheen to it making the band sound like Supertramp during Crime of the Century.
For the re-made/re-modeled songs I prefer the edgier sound from the debut. I think something was lost somewhere in the translations on the follow up that seemed so key in Mental Notes. I think that Songs like Stranger than Fiction (which has an odd structure to it) needed to have a chaotic production value in order to have the theme fully come across.
Overall this is an album that your not going to come across at most record stores, nor will you hear it ever being played on the radio (it's a little to radical), and I feel lucky to have stumbled over some of the reviews in amazon because this stuff is really great. It is a profound artistic statement with complete ideas that seem totally original and fresh today as it did in 1975."
a little more about the sound...
They really did an amazing job of cleaning up the sound of this album. The muddiness of the original is nicely cleared without losing the "murky atmosphere" that was intended. The bass sounds round and strong and the synthesizers hum in beautiful new way for my ears. For some reason, this album more than any other Split Enz cd that I've heard was in need of remastering and they did a superb job!!"
One of the best
skankersore | Texas | 12/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a prequal to the shortly after released "Second thoughts" which took 5 songs from this original and recomposed them. With the exception of "stranger than fiction" the album still stands on it's own from the second release.
I lament the fate of the Enz in the 1970's. They were never appreciated as they should have been. Phil Judd never found a place in the pop/rock genre for his perfect ragtime voice and leanings. Commercially, prog seemed to have already found a "box" for itself, limiting the style from the once accepted diversity that gave birth to it. Inevitably, this same lack of diversity is was killed progressive. Hence, as the Enz persisted, they continued to experiment until they found a limited version of the exposure they deserved.
But this first "rock effort", when listented to today shows a clear transitional phase from where progressive rock would eventually flow into a musical style we now refer to as "new wave" in the US. Split Enz had too many chord variations and introspection in the lyrics to be punk, but they were a little to "goofy" for the fanboys of YES, RUSH, Boston and the like.
Reading into the history of Enz, it's intriging to find that, much like Pete Gabriel in the Genesis era, they helped to promote themselves by their visual presentations, outlandish, colourful and very attention-getting. This is the visual stain that was emulated by the early days of MTV, where commercial new wave and punk ruled the scene- the whole pop art culture can be traced back to Bowie, Split Enz, Devo, the Talking Heads and only a few others.
The music is solid, but definitely not for fans of the later Finn brothers material. It's true progressive rock in the line of Supertramp, but there are distinctive change-ups in the beat and tone that you'll hear later in bands such as XTC. In retrospect, you could call this early new wave just as much as you can call it prog."
A warning to those who remember the vinyl version
Michael Hood | Birmingham, England | 03/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Due to confusing politics in the 1970's Split Enz released two LPs with the same name, both called "Mental Notes". The 1976 release contained just the group; the 1977 release is a collaberation with Phil Manzanera and contains new versions of several of the songs, along with a few extra tracks. The 1977 vinyl album has been renamed "Second Thoughts" for the CD. Which version is better? It's a matter of opinion. All I can say to Split Enz fans is that the albums are sufficiently different for me to recommend buying both."