Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 60

 
(Dion-”Now”)

All Killer No Filler!!


If I was in control of a radio station, let’s call it WBBJ(W-Buzz-Baby-Jesus), my playlist would be based on Duke Ellington’s concept of “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind”.

They all begin with the “needle drop”. This sound inspires delicious anticipation. I salivate when I hear it. Apparently the ancient Greeks used a bit of cacophony to start a performance, as it defined the silence immediately after. This particular needle drop is “The Night Tripper” by Dr. John. A record I found on the street in Soho.

2- “Campesina” by Spiteri, from 1973. Led by Venezuelan brothers, Charlie and George, Spiteri was released in England as an answer to Santana.
It never charted anywhere, and they didn’t make any more albums. And so this one gem makes its mark in history as a collectors’ ‘must have’ and an album that could have been…. but never was. Still, never too late to enjoy it! I don’t always know where I found something, but in this case it’s here.

3- “What’s Right” by David Werner from his eponymous 1979 album. It’s brilliant, and actually made the charts. Song writer, recording artist, and record producer, he is also known for his two RCA glam rock releases “Whizz Kid” and “Imagination Quota”. All are worth checking out.

4- “Dirty Boys” is my favorite from David Bowie’s latest, “The Next Day”. (2013)

5- “Don’t Swallow The Cap” by The National. I read a great review of this album in the NYTimes. Reminds me of ’80′s Bowie. The jury’s still out, but I like this song. (2013)

6- “Now” – Dion and The Wanderers. From his late ’60′s album “Wonder Where I’m Bound”, which no one bought, this song is powerfully good. With it’s kind of California folk-rock arrangement, it doesn’t sound a thing like “Runaround Sue” or any of his other hits. One thing for sure, the man can sing. (1968)

7- “Ride Your Pony” – Lee Dorsey. I chose this over “Working In A Coal Mine”. (1966)

8- “The World Is A Ghetto” – War. I like to include a couple actual hits in the mix. The context elevates the more obscure tunes. That they hold their own is evidence that the biggest reason they didn’t chart has more to do with luck than quality. (1973)

9- “Walking The Whippet” – Andy Mackay from his 1974 album, “In Search Of Eddie Riff”. With a nod to “Telstar”, this instrumental features Phil Manzanera, and is pretty much Roxy Music without a singer.

10- “Jungle Lullabye” – CW Stoneking from his 2008 album “Jungle Blues”. This Australian singer songwriter guitar banjo player manages to evoke 1920′s music without sounding like a museum. This song is a favorite around my house. Great arrangement by the Primitive Horn Orchestra.

11- “Blue Monk” Original founding members of NRBQ, Terry Adams and Steve Ferguson from “Louisville Sluggers” (2006). Thoroughly affectionate and charming cover of Monk’s tune.

12- “The “In” Crowd” by Dobie Gray is just cool. (1964)

13- “Stop Me, Citate Me” By The Fraternity Of Man, best known for “Don’t Bogart Me” from “Easy Rider” Its original members included three musicians from Lowell George’s band The Factory – Richie Hayward later of Little Feat, Warren Klein, and Martin Kibbee. This countrified psychedelic artifact tells a familiar tale with humor without being a novelty. (1968)

14- “Melody” Formed in 1990, Custard is an indie rock band from Brisbane, Australia. Working similar territory as XTC, they wrote short snappy pop songs with elements of rock n roll and the occasional pedal steel. “Melody” will stick in your head.

15- “Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)” by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel for the album “The Best Years of Our Lives”. Somehow I missed this when it came out in 1975. Infectious as hell, it reminds me of Eno at his glam-poppy best.

16- “Sad Is The Way That I Feel” Mark Eric (1969). Really obscure slab of Beach Boy homage. On a side note, Eric was also a teen actor, appearing on The Partridge Family, among other TV shows of the 60s.

17- “Shelby GT 356″ The Chesterfield Kings. From their foray into surf music “Surfin’ Rampage” (1997). This Rochester NY institution has been exploring various forms of rock music since the 1980′s. They get all the details right, down to their outfits.

18- “Muswell Hillbilly” Southern Culture On The Skids take on The Kinks classic. I’ve been a Kinks fan since “You Really Got Me”, and I can be pretty hard to please, but I think they get all the important things right on this. The rest of the album “Countrypolitan Favorites” (2007) is just as good.

19- “Be My Guest” Neil Finn From “The Kitchen Sink”, a collection of rareties and demos. (2004)

20- “Car Song (Non-Album Track)” Fresh Maggots (1971). Impossibly obscure bit of early ’70′s British folk. This catchy tune is more fun than anything else on the album.

21- “Freddie’s Dead” Curtis Mayfield, 1972. Another actual hit. The single was released before the Super Fly album, and in fact before the film itself was in theaters. It peaked at #4 on the U.S. Pop Chart and #2 on the R&B chart.

22- “Played The Game Too Long” The Original Texas Playboys Under The Direction Of Leon McAuliffe(1979). I found this vinyl rip over at Willard’s.

Special Thanks to TWILIGHTZONE! and Willard’s Wormholes

Art Included.

Now………….60

Chillin’ With Miles

 
(Take It Or Leave It)

Despite producing the original sessions, Teo Macero was not involved in putting the set together, and is adamant that they should never have been released in this form. “I hate it,” he says. “I think it’s a bunch of shit, and you can quote me on that. And I hope you do. It has destroyed Miles and made him sound like an idiot. It’s a terrible thing to do to an artist when he’s dead. Those records were gems, and you should leave them as gems.”

It’s too bad most people think of “Bitches Brew” when the subject of electric Miles comes up, because it’s one of the least interesting of the period. Along with Agartha and Dark Magus, it would be an easy to think the whole era a funked up bore. It was that way for me until I got hold of “The Complete On The Corner Sessions”. I was familiar with Bill Laswell’s “Panthalassa”, but distrusted his approach. I don’t always like his interpretations, for instance his re-imagination of Bob Marley is pretty terrible.
I’d never heard the original “On The Corner”, but it’s reputation is pretty poor as many of his Jazz fans found the long funky pieces “not jazz”, and boring. I loved the unreleased jams Teo thinks are shit. It’s what opened my ears to Miles. Next I collected “The Complete Jack Johnson”, then “The Complete In A Silent Way”, and “The Complete Bitches Brew”.
I think Teo’s pissed because it’s pulled the curtain back showing how he and Miles manipulated hours of tape to construct a product instead of letting the jams speak for themselves.

“Chillin’ With Miles Davis” is a nice companion to the official releases. It’s for those who think they don’t like electric Miles. These tracks are really important in the scheme of things. He is making ambient music, he is anticipating dub. You can tell they were exploring unknown territory. Everyone is really listening and trying to make it work. Miles purposely got musicians to play out of comfort zones. That’s why this is so special.

Miles, inspired by Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone, set out to make rock n roll and reach a younger audience. I’m sure he figured it would be easy, after all it was being made by young cats without training, but he found Rock is deceptively simple, and it took him awhile to get his groove on.

I wanted to make an ambient album, I’d read somewhere that Brian Eno had been influenced by “He Loved Him Madly” and used it as a rough guide for texture and pacing in his ambient works, so I started with that and “Guinnevere” (“Bitches Brew” outtake). I made a cd, and while reviewing, realized that no matter how much I love it, “He Loved Him Madly” is too damn long, so I snipped off the first ten minutes, where a natural break occurs and a drum beat is introduced. This differs from the released version in that there are no overdubs or edits (save mine). It’s the original Jam.

“The Big Green Serpent” is another “BB” outtake. it’s a fragment, marred by a slight breakdown with conversation. I cut about 40 seconds.
In order for everything to fit on a cd, I trimmed about a minute no one will miss off the end of “Guinnevere”. Everything else “as is”.

I finished it off with “Go Ahead, John part One” (Jack Johnson outtake), which isn’t all that ambient, but a terrific bluesy closer with great solos by Miles, and John McLaughlin’s stunning guitar.

I heartily disagree with Mr. Macero. It has not destroyed Miles and made him sound like an idiot. This material enhances both Miles catalog and reputation, and in no way casts the artist in a poor light.

Link in comments.

It’s also here

Special Thanks to Willard for turning me onto the music.

Sodoma E Gomorra

 

Even if you use a mirror, it’s still in Italian

Call me crazy, but I like Italian Prog. I don’t know how long I’ve had this in my hard drive, or where it came from, but it rocks. And hard. This song is a kickass instrumental. The rest of the album has standard, but not odious, hard rock vocals.
It would have been a classic if made by an American, British, or even Australian band.

from http://www.italianprog.com

Il Rovescio della Medaglia were formed in Rome around the end of 1970 from the ashes of the beat band I Lombrichi. Enzo Vita, Stefano Urso e Gino Campoli founded the group, that had as lead singer first Gianni Mereu (not the guitarist of Logan Dwight), then Sandro Falbo (from Le Rivelazioni) and soon later Pino Ballarini, who had moved to Rome from Pescara where he played with Poema.
Their first great success was at Viareggio Pop festival and they soon became one of the most popular live bands in Italy during the early 70′s.

First LP La Bibbia, released in 1971, was basically a very good hard-rock album with slight prog influences, recorded live in studio and accompanied by a distinctive round medallion-shaped booklet
The second one, Io come io a year later, was in the same style, with ambitious philosophical lyrics inspired from Hegel works. A short album (less than 30 minutes) but again a really good one!

In 1973 a fifth member was added, keyboard player Franco Di Sabbatino, also from Pescara, like Pino Ballarini, and briefly with Il Paese dei Balocchi.
With their sound enriched by the keyboards, Il Rovescio released the third album, Contaminazione, with the help of argentine composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov, who had already worked with New Trolls for their Concerto Grosso and Osanna.
The album was obviously more in a symphonic direction, and was also released in an English-sung version and issued in many foreign countries, to try to launch the group abroad. The English language album appeared in Italy in 1975 only, when the band had already split up.

By this time the band was being renowned for their powerful performances, always played at the loudest possible volume and helped by a unique sound system. This is what the Contamination LP liner notes said about it (originally written in English, mistakes and all…): “Their instrumentation is among the moste interesting in Europe. The 6000 watt Mack vocal equipment is quadrophonic and is equivalent to 36 track amplifiers. The console table is really a portable recording studio with filters, compressors, etc. The guitar, the battery and the keyboards have 900 watt amplifiers. The keyboards consist of a vertical B Hammond organ, a harmonium, an eminent for the reproduction of strings, two VCS synthesizers, a 200 Harp [it was probably an ARP], and two mini moog synthesizers. The lighting equipment is also important. There are 50 spotlights which produce colors and special effects. On a special screen behind the group, slides and films are projected to produce abstract musical effects.”.
Not bad for an Italian band, and no one else in Italy had such a powerful live act!

But… in December 1973 the stealing of their big and expensive PA brought the band close to the end, with Pino Ballarini leaving for Switzerland (briefly replaced by Michele Zarrillo from Semiramis) and the others continuing as an instrumental-only band. The live album Giudizio avrai, privately released by the band in the late 80′s, contains a recording from this period, with the band’s sound dominated by the keyboards.

Last release is a single from 1975 (there’s a mention on its cover of a new album, but this was never released), then the band had various line-up changes up to 1977.

Bassist Stefano Urso founded Europe, authors in the early 80′s of an album (Bubble BLU-19609) and some singles in pop/rock style.
In early 90′s guitarist Enzo Vita reformed the band with a new line-up and released a new CD called Il ritorno, different from their past production and more AOR-inspired, as its followers Vitae (recorded earlier) and Microstorie, issued in 2011.

Sodoma E Gomorra

Little Bit Of Magic

 

"Little Bit Of Magic" Not found here.

Rosco Gordon’s “Little Bit Of Magic” is the #2 song I’ve been searching my cassette archives for. This originally came from a Swedish “best of” I bought in 1984. Most of the songs were from the fifties and early 60′s, the usual tunes including “Booted”, and “No More Doggin”, but at the end, something unusual, “Little Bit Of Magic”. Apparently a 1969 single put out on Bab-Roc, Rosco’s own label, this is the only “modern” soul music I’ve ever heard from him. No proto-ska “Rosco’s Rhythm”, but a heavy funk-soul workout.
I’ve never seen it again, and on YouTube someone has posted an earlier version of the song.
I used to think it would have been a perfect vehicle from Bryan Ferry, had he recorded it in the ’70′s when he was relevant.
Anyway enjoy the tune, it smokes. I wonder what was on the “B” side?

Here’s a link to Youtube uploaded by DJ Soulmarcosa. You can at least see the artifact.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkpHSA_lUOY

Little Bit Of Magic

Some Bright Stars For Queens College

 

The culprit

Two weeks before I built it, I said for the benefit of everyone else in the room as they unpacked their effects pedalboards, that I’d never use one. I thought of myself as some sort of guitar purist. I was into my guitar, it’s pickups, and a cord plugged straight into a tube amp. At the same time I was playing bass in another band and in order to have more colors in my pallette, I’d started to bring the analog delay and tremelo pedals, and of course all the wall warts, patch cords, and irritating set-up that go with them.  It flew in the face of my of my plan to keep things as simple as possible.  Also we moved from one rehearsal room into another and in the process, I found, in a milk crate full of unloved pedals, a Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer.

That night I was playing synthetic beats and thought it would be interesting to hear them squashed through it (true).  It was these and other convergences that inspired me to build my pedal board which I no longer know how I lived without.  I run everything through it.  It’s great, it fits in a hard shell case.  I pull it out, plug it in, and I’m ready to go, tuner on and everything.  The hard shell case had been in my basement storing a discarded cassette machine, next to an old suitcase filled with tapes I’d often thought of getting rid of as I had no plans of going back to them, except occasionally to archive something I couldn’t find anywhere else.  A few of my posts feature these digitized recordings.

So the cassette machine, naked, went back down to the basement and my painting studio, where I have a pretty awesome stereo.  I had been listening to NPR or my mp3 player.  I got the bright idea of hooking up the tape machine.  I opened the suitcase which held almost 300 tapes, some dating back to the late ’70′s, and others as recent as 2001.

It turned out to be a great idea, the cassettes sound good , and a reminder that the mp3′s we all listen to are not better, necessarily, just convenient.  In fact an mp3 ripped from an audio cd is a rough equivalent to a song a taped off an lp.  I became reacquainted with my mixtapes from the mid to late ’80′s.  The most exciting discoveries being found in the space at the end where the 45 minute side was longer than the vinyl album and the dead space filled with the random odd thing.  I have about 3,000 cd’s representing most of the music I need to have at my fingertips.  I’d long ago foolishly discarded almost all my lp’s, and most of it has been replaced digitally, but there were a few long lost gems I began to realize I might find in the cassettes.  The lp’s have been gone for decades but here were copies pickled back in the day, all the wondrous surface noise which had sent me over to cd’s in the first place now a charming reminder of  how music used to sound.

The scene of the crime

I became obsessed with one recording in particular.  Out of all the music I’d ever heard, there was one astonishing bit of recorded music I’d never been able to replace on cd.  I knew it would turn up somewhere, unless it was something I’d taped over, which unfortunately  happened pretty often.  At least a quarter of them had been sacrificed for car tapes from cd’s I still have.  The lp in question was David Bedford’s Nurse’s Song With Elephants from 1972.

David Bedford had been involved with the british art rock scene in the late ’60′s and ’70′s as a string arranger for the likes of Roy Harper, and Kevin Ayers.  He orchestrated and conducted Mike Oldfield’s The Orchestral Tubular Bells album (1975).

(wiki)

The first album to consist entirely of David Bedford compositions was Nurses Song With Elephants, recorded at the Marquee Studios, and released in 1972 on John Peel’s Dandelion label. On this album, Bedford mixed classical ensemble with poems and voices. “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College” uses twenty-seven plastic pipe twirlers, John Peel himself being among the pipe twirler players. There are five tracks on the album: “It’s Easier Than It Looks”, “Nurses Song With Elephants”, “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College”, “Trona” (1967), and “Sad and Lonely Faces”.  Bass guitar on the title song is played by Mike Oldfield and the final track features a poem by Kenneth Patchen that is sung by Kevin Ayers.

The Album

After about a month of searching, I’d already found Sad And Lonely Faces, so I knew I was on the trail and success was possible.  I found a cassette simply labelled “ex Albums ll”, which I sussed was made of choice cuts just before selling the records to buy my first cd’s back in 1991.   I’m a painter and all this time I’m listening, I’m painting pictures, sometimes not paying real close attention, but this time I was standing there, waiting to see what came next.  About 3/4 of the way through, and after Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s amazing Space Guitar, and Magic Sam’s 21 Days in Jail, there it was, I’d found my holy grail.

I’m not sure why I picked this out of everything to obsess over, except that it’s one of the most oddly compelling pieces I’ve ever heard.  There is a lot of air moving from acoustic sources, always a powerful experience.  All those girls voices make my hair stand on end in a good way.  Anyway I was very happy to hear it again, and wanted to share it this holiday season.  Enjoy!!!!!

Some Bright Stars For Queens College

I Don’t Know My Jazz From A Hole In The Ground

 
Been tripping on a lot of newish fusion. Seems King Crimson and 70′s prog rock are as big an influence on these guys as The Mahavishnu Orchestra or Jazz in general. I avoided the obvious and tried to stick with newish guitar oriented stuff. In other words, No Jeff Beck, or Al Dimeola. In general I’m pretty traditional in my limited appreciation of Jazz. Monk is probably my favorite, followed by the other “M” guys, Miles, and Mingus.
Most of the music is from the aughts, with a couple exceptions. While assembling this I started to think it needed some James Blood Ulmer, who was at the end of the first wave of fusion, but was a little too forward thinking and didn’t really fit in at the time. The blistering “Black Rock” (1982) somehow manages to sound like Captain Beefheart and James Brown at the same time. Jef Lee Johnson’s Jungle (1993) was included to keep Blood company as the only other vocal. T.J. Kirk (1995) was a band featuring Charlie Hunter on 8 string guitar, who derived their name from the fact that they play the music of Thelonious Monk, James Brown, and Roland Kirk. Marc Ribot made the cut with this tune from Rootless Cosmopolitans (1990).


I wrote this post awhile ago but just got around to putting it up. I listened to the comp a bunch of times and couldn’t decide whether to add some newer stuff I’ve “acquired”. Today I was notified of some spam comments so when I deleted them I decided, “Fuck it, I’m just going to post the sucker.”

Link in Comments. Enjoy!

Sanford and Son

Number Two

The Playlist


As mentioned in the profile, and other previous posts, the original now that’s what I call bullshit, was thrown together really quickly, but had a great flow and energy. If you make a lot of mix cd’s, then you know some turn out better than others. A good one will stand up to repeated listenings. Some assemble easily and others don’t. Number one was effortless and encouraged me to make another. Number Two had a lot to live up to. It took all week to assemble, with a couple failed prototypes along the way. This time the effort paid off. The result was a lot more variety, and a couple real real sleepers.
Things start off fine with memorable tunes by The Mermen, BRMC, Love Story In Blood Red, but really begin to go places with Ed Harcourt’s “Hanging With The Wrong Crowd”, followed by the aptly titled, “Nightmare”. Duncan Browne is a reminder that being a singer song writer is not alway a bad thing. “Babe Rainbow” is beautifully rendered. Magic Sam’s “Funky G Street” is a hair raising instrumental, Junior Kimbrough is transcendent, and Mattafix provides a conscious multi-culti international take on classic soul with “Big City Life”.

Here’s something I found about Nancy Boy:

Led by the progenies of two ’60s rockers, hippy-dippy Donovan and blue-hatted Monkee Mike Nesmith, pomo new wavers Nancy Boy definitely rebelled against their musical pedigree, emphasizing fashion and style over traditional substance. Model Donovan Leitch and Jason Nesmith threw Bowie, Suede, Duran Duran, and Blur in a blender and served up their self-titled full-length debut in 1996, competing with the post-grunge, Creed-infested landscape of alternative music. With their skinny ties and eyeliner, they didn’t stand a chance.

Anyway this is one of the better mixes, so I thought I’d share it. now that’s what I call bullshit 2 was assembled during the first week of June, 2006. I listened to this the whole summer I spent down in South Jersey as a surf bum.
Link In Comments.

The Original artifact

Number Fifty One

The Ancestral origin of my blog

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies is not shown, but you get the idea

Throughout the ’70′s and into the ’80′s (and apparently into the ’90′s in cd form) Warner/Reprise had what they called their “loss leader” program. The inner sleeves offered the opportunity to buy  two record samplers for two dollars apiece. The idea, of course was that you’d go out and buy the full albums at full price.

I had and still maintain a restless ear that needs a constant supply of new music. It’s rare I play any one thing to death.  As a kid I never had enough money to buy all the music I craved, nor any older siblings to “borrow” from.  As soon as my parents left the house I’d turn on their Magnavox and go to the right of the dial looking for the freeform FM radio stations lurking around 106. This was a full decade before KROQ. The DJ’s would spin a lot of discs without saying anything so I rarely knew what I was hearing, except  it was dangerous, and my parents would hate it, saying it was “Acid Rock” played by people on dangerous drugs (Turns out they were right about that).  As soon as I saw the garage door open off it went before the oppressors caught on what I was up to. Except for when I forgot to turn the radio back to their regular station. They were not amused when greeted by Frank Zappa and the Mothers lovely “Mudshark” from “Live at Fillmore East 1971″

I might have been at a friends house smoking catnip and looking at his big brother’s Black Sabbath album when I noticed the offer on the sleeve. Otherwise I have no idea what album I might have cut out the order form to send off with $3 for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, a 3 record set filled with the likes of The Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Faces, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Little Feat, T-Rex, Alice Cooper, The Fugs, Black Sabbath, along with lesser known acts as like Pearls Before Swine, H.P.Lovecraft, Half Nelson, and Beaver and Krause.
Waiting six weeks for that sucker to arrive was an eternity. It came as a  Box set with Elmer Fudd on the front.  There were extensive liners with biographies and photos.

I just saw one for $90

Eventually I bought six or seven of them. The influence of these records on my development was huge.

Sadly I got rid of them during the great Punk purge of 1979, when suddenly everything sounded so tame, and irrelevant.
Pictured above is one I never owned, as it seemed “too old” in 1972 when I started buying them. I found this one in a thrift store and bought as a tribute to fond memories of all the others.

All through college and continuing today I’ve made compilations similar in concept to these records, although I didn’t put this together until fairly recently. That said, I have to admit my blog is an extension and a descendant of them.
The tradition lives at  Now That’s What I Call Bullshit.

Last week a friend sent me a DVD loaded with something like 600 MP3′s, so I made a playlist of a surveying less than 10% of the music. One song off each album made for 48 tracks and 2.8 hours of music. From the highlights I made a compilation cd for the car.
Entitled, Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 51, it is here for you to download if you like. The link can be found in the comments. Enjoy! And feel free to buy anything you can’t live without.

Of course after I wrote this last night I thought to Google “Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders” and found a buttload of articles about the series including this one:

http://www.dustbury.com/music/wbloss.html

Go there for the full story.

The Playlist

Number Fifty

As usual it’s been too long since I posted anything of substance. I look at some of my favorite sites, and there’s something new posted every day and I have to think that they must not do anything else except blog. Either that or I’m very slow. Probably a bit of both.  Even this began as a zip file I just wanted to throw up, and now I’m into more than an hour spent writing practically nothing.
As stated previously the blog began as a series of mix cd’s made in response to the demise of my evil i-Pod. I called them now that’s what I call bullshit as a comment on the popular series of Top 40 compilations called Now That’s What I Call Music.  It was a way of processing the ton of music coming my way through friends, downloads, and occasional purchases while I was driving two hours down to South Jersey on surfari.
Many songs posted were originally featured on the cd’s.

I made the first one for Memorial Day weekend in 2006. Here is number 50.

A swell compilation of highlights from the blog so far. It will fill a blank cd nicely, or remain files you can do with what you please.

You can find the link in the comments.

Mine looks like this

Beginning of the Enz

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Original New Zealand release

When I was a kid, I’d ride my bike to the local Licorice Pizza, eat the free licorice and spend hours going through the racks, looking at just about every lp in the Rock section. It didn’t take me long to discover the “Import” racks. It was where all the most interesting stuff lurked.
I didn’t know what to think when Mental Notes arrived some time in 1976. I couldn’t stop looking at it. They didn’t look queer enough to be Glam, so what were they? Some kind of Art Rock? Whatever they were I bought something else that day which I’ve not only forgotten, but probably didn’t like anyway.
Before I had a chance to change my mind, my buddy X-C Polymer (Mr. Malibu Fire) snagged it. He made me a cassette copy of the album, which I ended up playing to death. (The lp was rescued by chance from the 2006 “Malibu Fire”).
It was smart and clever, which I’m usually suspicious of, but the sound had elements of Roxy Music and The Kinks, so I was predisposed to like it.
Produced by Phil Manzanera, Roxy Music guitarist extraordinaire, and at the time, one of the coolest dudes in Rock and Roll, the album is stuffed chocka block with ideas, in a good way.
Decades later I discovered Mental Notes as first released in New Zealand was in reality a different album, and the version I knew was a mostly rerecorded second album released in New Zealand as Second Thoughts.

I bought their next album, Dizrythmia, the day it came out, which turned out to be one of the most disappointing followups I’ve ever heard. The music was so different, and less interesting, they almost sounded like a different band. Two original members had left, among them the principal songwriter, Phil Judd (also the artist responsible for that amazing cover) leaving Tim Finn in charge. Neil, Tim’s little brother, replaced him. The best songs were two left-over Phil Judd compositions.
“Nice To Know” is a credible Beatles pastiche, and probably not an accident, as it was produced and engineered by Geoff Emerick, The Beatles and George Martin’s engineer of choice.

What impressed me about Mental Notes was that after playing it 10 times I still couldn’t anticipate what was coming next. I found it dense and complicated, yet totally engaging, which doesn’t happen often. When it does, I’m usually hooked for good.
Phil Judd succumbed to the pressures of life on the road and left the band. You can see in his cover painting that when everyone decided to get “funny” haircuts, he shaved his head, not usually an indicator of mental stability.

For the whole Split Enz saga: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_Enz
BTW I gave wikipedia money.

Slightly Updated exported version

Late Last Night
Lovey Dovey
Matinee Idyll
Sweet Dreams
Time For a Change
Titus
Walking Down a Road
Nice To Know (from Dizrythmia)