True Colours (Split Enz album)

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True Colours
Split Enz - True Colours.jpg
Studio album by
Released25 January 1980
RecordedJune−October 1979
StudioArmstrong Studios, Melbourne
GenreNew wave
LabelMushroom (AUS)
Polydor (NZL)
A&M (International)
ProducerDavid Tickle
Split Enz chronology
The Beginning of the Enz
True Colours
Professional ratings
Review scores
Smash Hits5/10[2]

True Colours is the fifth studio album released by New Zealand band Split Enz, and was their first major commercial success. Released in 1980, the album featured more pronounced contributions from co-lead singer and songwriter Neil Finn. Credited to him is the album's New Zealand and Australian #1 single, "I Got You", which also broke them internationally. The US release of the album featured "Shark Attack" and "I Got You" in reversed positions due to the latter's success on the single charts.


Tim Finn said, "We had been playing so many shows, so the band were very tight. It was like everything was starting to line up to make a really powerful record." Crombie added, "We'd had a rough time up to that in England, and I think we're really just raring to go. We came back to Melbourne and recorded the album and it just felt it was a new beginning."[3]

Originally, the band thought "Missing Person" to be the album's standout track, not realizing "I Got You" would become the hit. "I Hope I Never" was mixed differently for the Australian single release, with strengthened percussion. "Nobody Takes Me Seriously", "What's the Matter with You" and "Poor Boy" were released as singles in the northern hemisphere.

A synthesizer melody played in "I Wouldn't Dream of It" was first introduced in an early Split Enz recording, aptly titled "The Instrumental".


The album cover was initially released in four colour combinations – yellow and blue, red and green, purple and yellow, and blue and orange – but would ultimately be given another four makeovers with releases in lime green and pink, hot purple and burnt orange, gold and platinum (to mark its sales milestones), and finally yellow, blue and red.

When it was later released on the A&M label, wild, imaginative shapes and patterns covered the vinyl using a technique known as "laser-etching". When light hit the record, these designs would protrude and spin about the room. The album was the first to ever use this technique, originally designed to discourage the creation of counterfeit copies.

Crombie later said, "There was a lot of resistance initially. For some reason they thought people would get confused. It was just playing with it really. Why not? In the end there were 11 covers. The rarest one is the black and white one that got sent out to the press. There's about 100 of them, with Textas to colour your own. So, if you're really keen, you'll have 11."[3]


True Colours was remastered by Eddie Rayner and re-released on two occasions. Firstly in 2003, and yet again with the rest of the Split Enz catalogue on 20 May 2006 with the bonus tracks "Things" and "Two of a Kind". In October 2010, the album was listed at number 22 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums, despite being a New Zealand production.[4]

On the 40th anniversary of the release in 2020, the album was remixed by Rayner, reissued as True Colours: 40th Anniversary Mix and reached number one on the New Zealand Albums chart again.

Critical reception[edit]

Reviewed in Roadrunner at the time of release, it was described as, "a thoughtful, reflective album. The approach to songs is more straight forward, more serious, than the Split Enz we are all used to."[5]

Crombie later said, "I think we split our audience to some extent. It seemed like a real sort of dividing point. Suddenly we had a lot of teenage girls in our audience and it moved into a different kind of vibe in terms of live performance. Tim Finn agreed, "If you were a Mental Notes freak, you might have taken a step back at that point."[3]

Track listing[edit]

Close up of the laser-etched A&M release

All tracks are written by Tim Finn unless noted.

Side A
1."Shark Attack"2:52
2."I Got You" (Neil Finn)3:24
3."What's the Matter with You" (N. Finn)3:02
4."Double Happy" (Instrumental) (Eddie Rayner)3:15
5."I Wouldn't Dream of It"3:14
6."I Hope I Never"3:24
Side B
7."Nobody Takes Me Seriously"3:32
8."Missing Person" (N. Finn)3:32
9."Poor Boy"3:19
10."How Can I Resist Her"3:26
11."The Choral Sea" (Instrumental (T. Finn, N. Finn, Rayner, Noel Crombie, Malcolm Green, Nigel Griggs))4:29

NOTE: On the A&M version (SP-4822), tracks 1 & 2 are inverted. The listing above is the original Mushroom (AUS) / Polydor (NZ) listing.

2006 re-release[edit]

True Colours Tour, Commodore Ballroom.

All tracks are written by Tim Finn unless noted.

Side A
1."Shark Attack"3:00
2."I Got You" (Neil Finn)3:29
3."What's the Matter with You" (N. Finn)3:09
4."Double Happy [Instrumental]" (Eddie Rayner)3:27
5."I Wouldn't Dream of It"3:22
6."I Hope I Never"4:34
7."Nobody Takes Me Seriously"3:30
8."Missing Person" (N. Finn)3:39
9."Poor Boy"3:28
10."How Can I Resist Her"3:33
11."The Choral Sea [Instrumental]" (Split Enz)4:51
12."Things" (N.Finn; single, released October 1979)2:48
13."Two of a Kind" (Recorded at Harlequin Studios, Auckland, June 1979)3:41

40th Anniversary Remix Edition (2020)[edit]

All tracks are written by Tim Finn unless noted.

1."Shark Attack"2:58
2."I Got You" (Neil Finn)3:28
3."What's the Matter with You" (N. Finn)3:19
4."Double Happy [Instrumental]" (Eddie Rayner)3:31
5."I Wouldn't Dream of It"3:26
6."I Hope I Never"4:34
7."Nobody Takes Me Seriously"3:30
8."Missing Person" (N. Finn)3:37
9."Poor Boy"3:25
10."How Can I Resist Her"3:31
11."The Choral Sea [Instrumental]" (Split Enz)4:41
12."Firedrill" (Live from the Capitol Theatre Sydney, July 1982)4:43
13."Hard Act to Follow" (Live from Logan Campbell Centre Auckland, December 1984)4:00
14."I Walk Away" (N. Finn; live from Festival Hall Melbourne, November, 1984)3:40
15."Log Cabin Fever" (N. Finn; live from the Capitol Theatre Sydney, July 1982)4:31
16."Lost for Words" (Nigel Griggs; live from the Capitol Theatre Sydney, July 1982)3:41
17."Ninnee Neez Up" (Noel Crombie; live from Festival Hall Melbourne, November, 1984)4:10
18."Wail [Instrumental]" (Rayner; live from the Regent Theatre Sydney, March 1981)2:57

12-18 are CD bonus tracks.


Split Enz[edit]


  • David Tickle - producer


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1980–81) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 1
Canada (Music Canada)[7] 10
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[8] 1
UK (Official Charts Company)[9] 38
US Billboard 200[10] 40

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[11] 3
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[12] 2
Chart (1981) Position
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[13] 20

See also[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[14] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[15] 2× Platinum 200,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

  • NB: The album is "multi platinum" in New Zealand.[16][17]


  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Hepworth, David. "Albums". Smash Hits. No. 7–20 August 1980. p. 28.
  3. ^ a b c Dan Condon. "'We wouldn't let the industry defeat us': How True Colours changed Split Enz forever". Double J.
  4. ^ O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.
  5. ^ Robertson, Donald (8 February 1980). "Albums". Roadrunner. Parkside, SA: 21.
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. p. 288. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. NOTE: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1970 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988.
  7. ^ "RPM Canadian Charts". Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  8. ^ " – Split Enz – True Colours". Hung Medien. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  9. ^ "The Official Charts Company". Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  10. ^ "Split Enz Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 432. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1980 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1981 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  14. ^ "New Faces to Watch" (PDF). Cash Box. 25 October 1980. p. 10. Retrieved 3 December 2021 – via World Radio History.
  15. ^ "Split Enz Bio". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  16. ^ "Split Enz and True Colours". August 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Great NZ Album: Split Enz True Colours". RNZ. August 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.