The lead single from the ninth and final Split Enz studio album, See Ya 'Round, the Neil Finn-penned I Walk Away led a double life as one of the earliest Crowded House releases when it was issued in a re-recorded version on the American editions of the new band's self-titled debut album. But this original arguably superior version, which reached number 13 in the New Zealand pop charts in November 1984, is an under-appreciated pop gem boasting compellingly over-the-top production and a fun, low-budget video featuring cardboard cut-outs of the band and an amusing vignette of the band as cartoon violinists.
Neil Finn's precocious talent had by 1984 matured into enormous promise, and I Walk Away is a good example of what he would bring to the table in Crowded House. The clip below from Australian TV features a supremely awkward Tim Finn introduction with new Enzer Paul Hester (who of course would go on to join Neil in Crowded House) gooning about in the background. Tim had just left the band he had started to begin a solo career, leaving his little brother to take over as the creative force behind Split Enz. Neil even congratulates his brother on getting the script out with an encouraging 'well done'. It can't have been easy for either Finn, but Tim did join the band on the Enz With A Bang tour, the Australian dates for which scroll across the screen during this recording. Once the music starts it's onwards and upwards, with the striking cartoon violinist intro leading to the relatively unassuming opening verse. But then it kicks into a higher gear; here's a quick timeline:
1:15 The rich, busy jangle-pop guitars of the chorus
1:35 Eddie Rayner keyboard flourish into verse
1:45 Up an octave for 'Your life, a slave to ambition'
2:10 Noel Crombie! Massive jangle again, but sounding even bigger
2:30 Moody Nigel Griggs bridge bass & Neil's touch of slide
2:45 Double drums from Paul Hester & Noel Crombie
3:10 Higher 'away' in the lead vocals - textbook pop songcrafting
3:15 Big cardboard heads!
3:30 Falsetto outro freakout!
3:45 The happiest slice of the video, with Hester & Crombie sharing a laugh on drums
I absolutely love the ringing guitar sound of this track - perhaps it was a kindred spirit of the guitar figures played by Craig Hooper on the song Recurring Dream, before the band was signed to Capitol and when it was known as The Mullanes.
(Increase the resolution to 480p for the best image quality)
Music: Split Enz - I Got You (1980 alternate video from Paul Hogan Show)
Music: Split Enz - Give It A Whirl (Live, 1979), 24 January 2014
Music: Crowded House - I Walk Away (1986)