100 Beautiful, Strange and Frankly Incredible New Zealand LP Covers: Volume One
Welcome to an incredible picture gallery collection of 100 albums selected not by jury or a sales chart, but an avid collector of albums — and one of the best chroniclers of modern-day New Zealand.
Award-winning author and journalist Steve Braunias fell into record collecting one fateful Christmas at the Salvation Army Family Store in Henderson, West Auckland (see photo above). He flipped through a box of old vinyl records and the sight of one mad, beautiful New Zealand album cover after another gave him the idea to present them in a book.
It only took six years! He amassed a collection of over 800 LPs made in New Zealand and Cover Story showcases the best 100.
The records are from a golden age in New Zealand music — from 1957 (when the first LP was made here) to 1987 (the year records stopped being made here). The covers reflect our silliness and our sexiness, our love of a scenic backdrop and our DIY creativity.
Cover Story features LPs made by Country & Western hayseeds, born-again Christians, hard-drinking piano players and a few genuine legends of New Zealand music: Peter Posa . . . Hello Sailor . . . The Yandall Sisters . . . Some guy who owned a menswear store in Whanganui . . .
They all answer the question: what does Kiwi music look like? Steve writes stories behind the record covers, through a series of interviews and small essays.
The discography (see page 165 of the book) lists records by acts as diverse as children's entertainer Max Cryer, Fijian rock band Mantis, Invercargill's country music sweetheart Suzanne Prentice, genius stoned hippie Corben Simpson, and the Patea Maori Club, whose masterpiece of album art Poi E is displayed over two pages in the centrefold.
As Steve puts it, Cover Story is 'Thirty years of record covers, making a sketch of New Zealand cultural history, sometimes frankly incredibly, quite often strangely, very often beautifully.'
Cover Story is arriving in good bookstores across the nation this week.
Steve Braunias began raiding op shops for old New Zealand albums in 2015 and has since amassed over 800 LPs that no one else wanted. The author of ten books, including Civilisation (winner of the 2013 New Zealand Book Award for General Non-fiction) and Missing Persons (his second collection of true-crime stories), Steve is a staff writer at the New Zealand Herald and literary editor at Newsroom. He has won more than 40 national awards for writing. He lives in Te Atatu, Auckland.