You need to be in a certain mood for it... I have the first two books. Actually it turned out to be entirely coincidental that I have them. There was part of the first book (Titus Groan) on my Leaving Cert syllabus in Second-Level. I reckon you need patience for them. I've got into a bit of the first one, but It's a sad thing, I just don't have the time to read all that much anymore.
Personally, I reckon them to be the alternative LOTR. But anyway.. straying a bit off topic here so...
Mike Chunn in Stranger than Fiction mentions a prog-rock band called 'Family' that he lumps in with Led Zep, Tull and Yes. I've never heard them, but the guys were apparently fans. Hendrix and Clapton were influences to Wally Wilkinson at least, which you can hear in Mental Notes. And Eddie used to do Bowie covers...
I "discovered" Yes in the past week or so. A lot of music listeners despise progressive rock for its pomposity and arrogance, but I love it. Perhaps the Enz of 1975-1976 prepared me for it. I hear shades of Yes on Mental Notes via Eddie's keyboard work. The extended instrumental passages on songs like 'Heart Of The Sunrise' (1972) echoes in the likes of 'Stranger Than Fiction'. Also, the musical proficiency and expertise of what is/was, let's face it, an all-star band (Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford in particular) sharply mirrors Judd, Rayner, Wilkinson and Crowther.
In the 'Spellbound' doco, Eddie mentions that when he joined the Enz, it was the end of him doing, quote: "Yes and Genesis covers".
Also, in the 'Stranger Than Fiction' book, Mike notes that when Eddie was in Orb, their repetoire included the best material from Yes' then current album Fragile.
It's amazing to think that Led Zeppelin was a major formative influence on Judd-Finn because their early songs couldn't be more unlike Page-Plant.
When the Enz arrived in the UK in 1976, the press struggled to pigeon-hole the band, resorting to comparisons with King Crimson, early Genesis (i.e. the Peter Gabriel era) and Roxy Music. To quote Homer Simpson, "You're close, but way off."
Actually, the band Family is a pretty good comparison - not so much for sound, but in the fact that they were likewise uncategorizeable. Very delicate at times, ferocious at others, with an astounding vocalist and front man in Roger Chapman, as unique in his own respect as early Enz-era Tim Finn - strong words! It was "prog rock" in the finest possible respect: on the same terms that The Beach Boys would merit being labeled "prog rock": by refusing to accept the current boundaries and raising the bar a bit. Early Enz prog? By those standards - yes. Proudly. BTW, Family had many records released and I imagine they're all re-released. They were big critical favorites of the time. I wouldn't begin to be able to tell you where to start. Their first was in 1968, I believe. Their timeline, coupled with all the press they received in British publications, could all point to their potential as an influence on Our Enz.
I've always thought that, even before Second Thoughts, Roxy Music's first album must have had some influence. And when you take the personality comparisons - Ferry/Eno and Tim/Phil - it gets a bit scary...
Another one was McDonald & Giles, who were half of the King Crimson line-up that recorded the classic progressive rock album In The Court Of The Crimson King (i.e. the one whose cover is my current avatar). According to Stranger Than Fiction, Tim (vocals/piano) and Phil (drums) had formed the one-off duo Mellodrone to perform at a festival months prior to the formation of Split Ends. At this performance, Mellodrone performed a 20 minute piece - no doubt in a prog rock style. Anyway, the McDonald & Giles album was an influence. Anyone heard their music?
Hey Gav, The lone McDonald and Giles album is quite good. Thanks for reminding me about it! I listened to my old vinyl copy a couple times today. It's perhaps not as consistenly good as the first King Crimson record, but it's more soulful, has a nice whimsical streak, and contains stronger jazz, pop, and folk elements than the mother group. I'd say in a way it has more in common with Caravan and the Canterbury sound.
I'd never thought about it before, but after listening to McDonald and Giles today, I can see how they could have had some impact on the early Enz ("Maybe" from Mental Notes comes to mind for some reason), especially the opening (and best) track on the album, the 11-minute plus "Suite in C," which has some beautiful (real!) string arrangements, awesome woodwind overdubs by McDonald, guest keyboards by Steve Winwood, and some excellent, quirky art-pop writing overall.
I don't know if it was ever re-issued, but track it down if you can and see what you think. It's one of those great lesser-known art-rock classics.
And check out Caravan as well. You won't be disappointed. Like the early Enz, their particular brand of prog/art rock seems much more timeless now than most (their early stuff anyway). They too mixed more concise, pop-song length tunes with a few pieces that featured extended instrumental passages. Like I mentioned earlier, I don't know if the Enz were aware of Caravan and the other Canterbury groups, but I strongly suspect they were an influence.
Well, The Beatles influence everyone someway or another?!
Well, out of that list of music bands, the one I agree with most is Genesis! Because I'm a Genesis fan, when I first heard a Split Enz song with Tim singing - I could have sworn that it was Peter Gabriel, as they sound so alike!
They both have that presence when they sing! but the Enz outnumber Genesis! They are very alike in style, and both technically brilliant! It's just Split Enz are more funny and have witter lyrics!
Yeah, but definately a melting pot of influences there though... but i guess that's what is needed to make music like Enz! Ayisha! ***
There are a lot of parallels between the early Enz and the Peter Gabriel-led Genesis...the epic instrumental passages of songs, the obscure and bizarre lyrical references, the vocal style/phrasing, the stage sets/costumes/masks (especially in the Buck-A-Head days).
Very recently, I discovered Family. Family's influence on Split Enz cannot be overstated, whether they themselves would even admit the extent of it. Their seven albums from 1968 to 1973 sound like they could have been the seven lost Split Enz albums before Mental Notes.
When I heard the singing on their first album, Music in a Doll's House, it sounded almost exactly like the kind of vocal vibrato implemented on Split Enz early efforts. It's like listening to a seamless transition going from Family's last album to Split Enz's first album as the major overtones of their respective oeuvres are woven together by psychedelic, vaudeville, and carnival influences to create a seemingly unbroken eclectic aural quilt. I believe that any lover of the Enz would find Family immediately appealing for the very same reasons.
As brilliant as the Enz were, hearing Family helped me see them in a more realistic context. Not that I wasn't aware of this, but when exceptionally creative music is being considered, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that nothing happens in a vacuum. All of these early prog-rock groups had immediate precursors, and the precursors had influential precursors, etc. I wish I had discovered Family earlier, they're really quite amazing.
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