[Review] Split Enz: Dizrythmia (1977)

Despite the lineup shakeup, the band doubles down on the clown imagery with mixed results.

Kronomyth 3.0: Memories of the heydays with the better company.

Phil Judd was gone. So were Michael Chunn and Emelyn Crowther. Tim Finn and Edward Rayner did their best to carry on with the same clockwork strangeness, but the enz result is less convincing this time. Bold As Brass and My Mistake were maybe every bit as animated as their past successes, but it was Charlie that boded well for the future, a masterpiece of emotion that showed a serious side of Split Enz heretofore hidden.

The changing lineup actually didn’t change the band’s sound that much. The rhythm section feels more or less the same, and neither Neil Finn nor Phil Judd are likely to be confused with Angus Young anytime soon. In fact, a few songs appear to be holdovers from the previous band: Sugar and Spice, Nice to Know and Jamboree. The first of these reminds me of Sparks, the second of 10cc, but it’s only “Jamboree” that truly feels like the work of the original Enz, a parting nod to the progressive fancies of the past.

Dizrythmia is a good album, don’t get me wrong. For “Charlie” alone, it’s worth picking up. And there were very few bands making pop music as clever as “My Mistake.” The choice of Geoff Emerick as producer, however, might have led the band to explore their Beatles fantasies a bit more rather than trying to re-create the technicolor madness of their first two albums. Split Enz were, to be sure, an acquired taste, as their sense of showmanship often overshadowed their music. Tellingly, Frenzy stepped away from that image to focus on the music, which had always been the band’s core strength.

Original elpee version

A1. Bold As Brass (Tim Finn/Robert Gillies) (3:22)
A2. My Mistake (Tim Finn/Edward Rayner) (2:56)
A3. Parrot Fashion Love (Tim Finn/Edward Rayner) (3:47)
A4. Sugar and Spice (Phil Judd) (3:49)
A5. Without a Doubt (Tim Finn) (5:26)
B1. Crosswords (Tim Finn) (3:21)
B2. Charlie* (Tim Finn) (6:26)
B3. Nice to Know (Tim Finn/Phil Judd/Edward Rayner) (4:22)
B4. Jamboree (Tim Finn/Phil Judd/Edward Rayner/Noel Crombie/Malcolm Green/Robert Gillies/Mike Chunn) (6:27)

*Spelled as “Charley” on some releases.

The Players

Noel Crombie (vocals, percussion), Neil Finn (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Tim Finn (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano), Robert Gillies (saxophones, trumpet), Malcolm Green (drums), Nigel Griggs (bass), Edward Rayner (keyboards). Produced by Geoff Emerick and Split Enz; engineered by Geoff Emerick.

The Pictures

Front and back cover design by Noel Crombie.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on August 29, 1977 in Australia (Mushroom, L-36347), the UK and the US (Chrysalis, CHR/ZCHR 1145) and Germany (Chrysalis, 6307 609) with lyrics insert.

  1. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in the US (Chrysalis, PV/PVT 1145).
  2. Re-issued on 180g red vinyl in 2020 in the UK (Demon, DEMREC539) with lyrics innersleeve.

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