Phil Judd has created a brand new studio album – his first in nearly a decade. The title comes from a song he wrote in the early days of Split Enz – performed live a few times, surfacing online in demo-form only here it is recast as title track and album centerpiece. The music on Play It Strange reconnects Judd with some of the members of the original Enz – Mike Chunn and Emlyn Crowther are the rhythm section on the track When, guitarist Wally Wilkinson appears and co-wrote a couple of the tunes.
Recorded by Judd at his Phudd Phactory the album is available now via his Bandcamp page – $10 for the digital copy or for $20 (AUD) you’ll get the download and a signed CD copy (shipping September 01, 2014).
I’ll be back with a formal review soon but I’m compelled to write this right now, my first listen to the album. The title song glorious – just one shining example of Judd’s immense talent as writer and singer. The songs here – all of them – a reminder that he was so crucial the original spirit and energy of the Enz and that in his careers since then – across bands (The Swingers, Schnell-Fenster) and solo records he has created some inspiring, alluring music.
I first interviewed Phil Judd around a half-decade ago. It was a huge moment for me, I’ve been a fan of his music since I was at kindergarten – raised on the music of Split Enz, I grew up in the same town as Judd, my mother went to school with him. My brother was taught by the same art teacher. It’s that small-town New Zealand thing. My brother’s art teacher, a fan forever of Judd’s music, introduced us to the Schnell-Fenster music – that was life-changing for me.
When I first interviewed Judd – I spoke to him again for my book, On Song, where I featured two songs by Judd (one a co-write with Tim Finn – that’s how I was able to sneak in two songs by Judd where any other writer was only mentioned once) – he told me he thought he had one more album in him. He was nervous but hopeful. He reckoned he could do it.
He’s done it.
And it’s emotional hearing this music – knowing in some way a small part of the journey he’s been through to make this. And then applying, of course, my own journey, a journey of expectation around this album too – in recent years anyway…
This, for me, is one of the most special albums of 2014. And on first listen I can already hear that magic. He continues to play it strange. He continues to exude that which no one else has. Welcome back Mr Phudd. Welcome back Phil Judd. Thanks for this music.