Split Enz-Split Enz (2002)
Main Menu Introduction
Easter Egg-Get To Know Your Kiwis
Easter Egg-Lord Nord (Audio-Only Track)
Featurette-Sight And Sound BBC 1977
Featurette-Charlie-True Colours Concert
Featurette-Outback Tour-Regent Theatre
Featurette-Enz With A Bang
Featurette-She Got Body, She Got Soul
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||190:32 (Case: 180)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Various|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I've got to admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for Split Enz. Aside from the fact that I spent a couple of the early years of my life living in their home country of New Zealand and have subsequently made the trip back there several times since, the classic Enz album True Colours was my very first vinyl LP purchase in early 1980. I was just ten years old and was beginning to get into music and all that it offered. These guys offered a certain zany uniqueness that appealed to me (and several thousand others obviously) at the time. The strange hair styles, the colourful outfits, and wacky antics in their videos were just the thing an impressionable ten year old found interest in. Not to mention their excitable and highly enjoyable appearances on Countdown. Sunday evenings just haven't been the same since. The biggest selling single in Australia in 1980, I Got You, penned by the nineteen year old Neil Finn got played so many times in my house that my dad threatened to terminate my record player, my record collection, and me all at the same time!
For those of you that aren't familiar with the work of Split Enz and simply know them as the band Neil Finn was in before he formed Crowded House, here's a one paragraph summary of their twelve year career.
Formed in Auckland in 1972, the band was originally called Split Ends. The founding members were Tim Finn, Phil Judd, Mike Chunn, Miles Golding, and Michael Howard. With Judd and Finn penning their early songs, their material wasn't particularly mainstream and the band failed to gain a recording contract. After a couple of line-up changes, in 1975 they finally secured a recording contract with Mushroom records. The result of a two week studio session was their debut album Mental Notes. The band had an arty-theatrical style that resulted in them appearing in outrageous multi-coloured costumes and amazing wacky hair styles. Their debut didn't do as well as hoped so they basically re-worked it with a different producer and released it again as their second album, this time called Second Thoughts. Around this time, one half of the main songwriting duo was getting fed up with touring and decided to quit. It was decided to bring in Tim's younger brother Neil to fill the void left by Phil Judd. It proved to be the master stroke and success beckoned. A couple more line-up changes and the band's third album, Dizrythmia, finally achieved success by going gold in Australia and spawning the top 20 single My Mistake. Another line-up change and the fourth album was released in 1978. While Frenzy wasn't quite as successful, it did contain their biggest hit to date in I See Red, and it was a sure sign of things to come. 1980 saw the release of one of the biggest Australasian albums of the 1980s. True Colours was an instant success and sold mega copies in New Zealand and Australia. Nineteen year old Neil penned one of the most recognizable pop songs ever in I Got You. The line-up was a little more settled now and 1981 saw the release of an album that actually had two titles. Released as Corroborree in Australia and Waiata elsewhere, it didn't quite match True Colours, but contained the smash singles One Step Ahead and History Never Repeats. The band was certainly on a high and could basically do as they pleased. 1982 saw one of my favourite albums released. Time and Tide was slick and professional. The songs Dirty Creature and Six Months In A Leaky Boat were big hits with equally popular music videos. But time was running out. Unfortunately Tim Finn had had enough and after one more album (Conflicting Emotions - 1983) decided to leave the band to follow a solo career. The rest of the band, under Neil's leadership, managed one more album, 1984's See Ya Round. The band split in 1984 and after the Enz with A Bang tour ceased to exist. Various members all pursued solo projects. They reunited for a New Zealand tour in 1993 as part of their 20th Anniversary celebrations. It proved a huge success with fans clamouring for more.
When I got this disc for review I thought it was simply a collection of Split Enz videos with perhaps a few cobbled together extras thrown in for good measure, sourced from whatever was laying around at the time, pretty much like all the other video clip compilation discs I have seen in the past. Well, I was quite taken aback when I popped this in the player and discovered a veritable treasure-trove of material that really makes it a definitive collection and a must-have for any fan. The collection is simply labelled 'Split Enz'. No 'The Complete Video Collection' or 'Greatest Video Hits' labels in sight. The title is brief, succinct and just about perfect for what is a fantastic collection of not just videos, but posters, photos, live performances, a quality discography unlike any I have seen before, a comprehensive, detailed documentary, and even a few Easter Eggs. Moreover this is a collection that is further enhanced by its completeness. Rather than simply focusing on the successful days of the band, this also features the early days, the time when they were broke university students on a television talent show, long before Neil Finn joined and long before they enjoyed huge mainstream success. It chronicles their work through to the last studio album released in 1984 without stalwart Tim Finn, and footage of their reunion tour in 1993. It has obviously been put together by people who have a fondness for the band and ready access to some truly rare material. It is a must have for any serious music fan.
For the record, the following eighteen video clips are available for viewing:
|1. Sweet Dreams|
2. Lovey Dovey
3. Late Last Night
4. Bold As Brass
5. My Mistake
7. Hermit McDermitt
8. Give It A Whirl
9. I See Red
|10. I Got You|
11. I Hope I Never
12. One Step Ahead
13. History Never Repeats
14. Dirty Creature
15. Pioneer/Six Months In A Leaky Boat
16. Strait Old Line
17. Message To My Girl
18. I Walk Away
While I have included the documentary and live performances in the overall running time of this disc, all comments pertaining to the video and audio quality relate to the video clips only.
I could start this description with the usual disclaimer stating that since we have a wide variety of source material spanning some ten years from the early 1970s and all in various states of repair, that you shouldn't expect too much of the transfer. That is partially correct, and those almost exact words are used in a static screen warning you of the age and quality of the material you are about to view when you first fire up the disc. But I am pleased to say that despite all these warnings and disclaimers I was extremely impressed with the overall quality on offer. Sure, there are numerous problems associated with the tape-based material, but there has been a significant effort made in terms of digital restoration on all eighteen video clips. In fact, if you take a look at the DVD credits option from the main menu, you can see a few words dedicated to the restoration team and a couple of screen shots from the I See Red video before and after digital restoration.
All the content on the DVD is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1.
Some of the material is really quite fuzzy, the legacy of ancient and poorly stored analogue video masters. Imagine that favourite videocassette that you own - maybe your Wedding video? - Oh, never mind, but you get the idea. One that you (or the wife) have watched several hundred times. If so, then you'll appreciate the problems that are likely to be evident here. Surprisingly, the early clips (Sweet Dreams, Lovey Dovey, and Late Last Night) are really quite clear, sharp, bright and colourful and are probably in the best condition of all. Some of the early 80s stuff (and the biggest hits) are really quite soft, and although colourful, are at times quite dark.
While there are no glaring MPEG artefacts, there is some significant pixelization on the solid background colours. Most notable whenever a darker colour such as blue is used, the abundant low level noise that abounds causes the picture to get a bit blocky. While this is noticeable, it in no way detracts from the enjoyment value and that's all that is really important. Other artefacts abound on some clips, but really what were you expecting? For the record, such glitches as tracking noise (the opening seconds of I Got You and the closing second of Jamboree), and hairs and scratches (pretty much throughout Bold As Brass) are some of the main examples of artefacts.
There are unfortunately no subtitles available for either the videos or the Spellbound documentary.
This is a dual layered disc, but not spotting a layer change would lead me to assume that the video clips are on one layer and all the other goodies are on the other layer.
The audio soundtrack left me in two minds. Rather than opt for a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, we are offered a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at the bitrate of 224 Kb/s. Personally, I would have preferred a Linear PCM track for that CD-like quality. What we do get is close to that quality and the restoration team have done a fantastic job with cleaning up the old masters. It is clear and solid throughout with no hiss or distortion at all. There is superb fidelity, with decent low end and plenty of separation across the left and right channels. It really does need to be cranked up a few notches more than normal on the volume dial to fully appreciate, but when you do you should not be disappointed.
There is no surround or discrete subwoofer use.
|Surround Channel Use|
I normally hate menu introductions. They are fine the first time you view them, but try watching them a dozen or more times in succession and they become rather tedious. I have to say that the menu intro and menus themselves really do deserve a special mention here as they are rather unique and actually add something to the overall quality of the package. They are essentially a montage of all things Enz. Posters, labels, buttons, badges, vinyl records, tickets, promo books, flyers, and a myriad of other items all laid out in one big sheet. It's like a fan or band member has emptied his treasure box of all things Enz and spread them over the floor (I've got a sneaking suspicion that this theory might actually be quite accurate). As you select the items from the main menu, the screen sweeps around to another part of the montage to allow you to select further items that are essentially laying in the heap of memorabilia. Very neat and thankfully they are very fast to navigate.
Some fifty-six black and white photos, many from the early days of the band, though the entire career of the group is chronicled here.
A dozen or so posters advertising albums, tours, and the like. Some colour, some black and white.
There are three Easter Eggs hidden on the disc. I'm not going to spoil the exact location of them, as half the fun is navigating around the funky menus in search of them. Look hard and you will be rewarded with a full length video clip for the song Things, a minute of a silly television interview with the band in the very early days, and an audio only track of the Lord Nord production from 1999.
This would easily be the most well-conceived discography I have ever seen. Not only do we get to see the full colour album cover (front and back), but the singles from each album are listed, as are any highlights of the album (eg. Number 1 in Australia and New Zealand). The ever-changing band line-ups are also listed, but the crowning glory is the ability to play a 15 second sound-bite from very nearly every track on every album. Discographies surely don't get much better than that.
This is easily one of the best documentaries I have seen included on a music disc, rivalling the behind-the-scenes documentary found on Sting - All This Time. Made in 1993 to coincide with the reunion tour it is narrated by the well-known New Zealand actor, Sam Neill. Running for 45:26 minutes, this is a comprehensive look at the history of the band, from the early days of University, talent quests on national television, moving on to Australia and England, the various and numerous line-up changes, finally making it in the big-time, the eventual break-up, and the reunion tour some nine years later. It features some fascinating footage, none more so than some old home movie camera footage provided by Tim and Neil Finn's parents showing the newly formed Split Ends (as they were called then) competing in a New Faces style TV talent show. There are interviews with all the band members from each of the different line-ups, and other important names of the time such as Mushroom's Michael Gudinski.
A selection of six live performances covering several years. They are able to be selected individually from the "Live" sub-menu or you can simply hit Play-all. The total running time is 54:13 minutes. Included are a 1977 performance for the BBC Sight and Sound show, songs from the 1980s True Colours and the 1981 Outback Tours, performances from the 1984 Enz with a Bang Tour and the song Shark Attack performed at the 1993 reunion tour. The crowning glory is the 1979 performance on Countdown of She Got Body, She Got Soul.
The credits lists those lucky souls that got to work on this DVD project and also includes a couple of snapshots of the before and after screen images for the I See Red video clip. There are four pages of credits in total.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
I was unable to find any reference to this disc being available in any other Region. I would think it safe to assume that any version that appeared there would not be any better than this one.
Split Enz the band were a highly unique group that left an indelible entry in the music history of Australasia. Split Enz the DVD is also a unique collection, but to label this as simply a collection of music video clips is certainly not fair and is actually completely misleading. This is a complete chronicle, capturing fully a moment in time. It is a collection of different material, from a documentary, to rare live performances, photos, and music videos, all put together on an incredibly well executed disc. It was obviously compiled by someone who is a real fan with a passion for the group and access to rare archives.
The video quality, considering the age and likely storage of the source materials, is remarkable.
The audio is clear and clean, and while not in the league of the recent Queen Greatest Hits 1 dts soundtrack, it will surely please. The purists will be most certainly content.
The extras are remarkable.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|