SPECIAL FEATURE – SPLIT ENZ

 

 

 

 

I Got You (N Finn) and One Step Ahead (N Finn) – Split Enz 1980

 Ex-Kiwis the Split Enz were an arty, quirky, idiosyncratic ensemble who rejected standard pop star looks and sounds for something more flamboyant and whimsical. Their output before this song could best be described as ranging from experimental to left field oddball, they would not cross the bridge from cult status to commercial success until Neil Finn abandoned his nursing career and joined the band.

The group had relocated to London just as punk music was emerging and they struggled for an audience, the departure of some band members opened the door for Neil Finn to take over as lead guitarist but more importantly to bring a fresh attitude and sensibility to writing material for the Enz.

 

split enz

They recorded their third album Dizrythmia in London and Neil’s ability to craft Beatlesesque melodic pop soon became obvious, with the release of their next album True Colours and the single  I Got You. Neil Finn had craftily merged the engaging whimsy of the early Enz songs with a more commercial clarity and professional sheen. The lyrics capture the neurotic state of mind of the main protagonist as he wrestles with the complexities of a relationship, all driven along on the back of synth-laden chords, and a catchy insistent chorus.

I Got You was the band’s breakthrough single, it charted #12 in the UK, #53 in the US, #1 in Aust and became the biggest selling single of the year. Neil Finn would subsequently go on to conquer the world as the front man and creative force of Crowded House.

They followed up with One Step Ahead, which had an unusual lyrical structure and didn’t really have a definable chorus, as parts of the chorus are embedded in the verses throughout the song. The promo video featured the keyboardist Eddie Rayner performing a pantomime illusion walk, a step that would later be perfected by Michael Jackson and become the “moonwalk”. Taken from the album Corroboree (released as Waita elsewhere), the song was a hit here (#5) and top ten in NZ.

 

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