ENZSO was the brainchild of Split Enz keyboardist, Eddie Rayner -- taking the hits of the New Zealand post-punk band and giving them a full orchestral rendition with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Scholes, The New Zealand Youth Choir, and lead vocals from a list of people which reads like a 'Who's Who' of the New Zealand rock and entertainment industry -- Tim and Neil Finn, Dave Dobbyn, Annie Crummer and poet Sam Hunt.
At first it seems unlikely that such standard issue pop could benefit from a full orchestral treatment -- despite the complication of Enz's arrangements, the music itself lacks the grandeur of numbers like 'Bohemian Rhapsody', or the involved harmonies of 'God Only Knows' -- the sort of songs which have received a symphonic arrangement in the past. Rayner wasn't put off by this, however, and despite having never worked outside the 'rock' genre (like the rest of the band, he wasn't even a trained musician) he dived into arranging, as far as he was able, the songs for orchestra, aided by his transcriber Dave Woodcock. He took his synthesised demos to Mike Keyworth of the NZSO and from there it was all systems go.
The result is ... astounding. The full orchestral and choral backing makes an unusual support for the raw rock voices of the Finn brothers, and intensifies the quality and complexity of the underlying music. Dave Dobynn's falsetto goes places that Tim Finn could never reach, Annie Crummer's husky tones add a seductiveness to I Hope I Never and Sam Hunt gives a characteristically idiosyncratic spoken-voice rendition of Under the Wheel overlaid onto a surprisingly jazzy background.
This is an album that shouldn't have worked -- but with all the contrariness of a five year old who's been told not to do something, it did anyway.
- Poor Boy - lead vocal by Dave Dobbyn
- Message to My Girl - lead vocal by Neil Finn
- I Hope I Never - lead vocal by Annie Crummer
- Stuff N' Nonsense - lead vocal by Neil Finn
- My Mistake - lead vocal by Dave Dobbyn
- Voices - lead vocal by Neil Finn
- I See Red - lead vocal by Tim Finn
- Under The Wheel - lead vocal by Sam Hunt
- Dirty Creature - lead vocal by Tim Finn
- Stranger Than Fiction - lead vocals by Tim Finn, Neil Finn, Sam Hunt
- Time For a Change - lead vocal by Tim Finn